Washington, DC

“Dear PoPville,

I was hoping you could call attention to the problem of MedStar Georgetown employees discarding used personal protective equipment–like gloves, masks, and medical caps (see above)–on the streets and sidewalks of Burleith. While this has medical waste issue has been consistent June 2019, the problem has taken on special significance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The community has to track the problem.

As of writing, approximately 129 medical masks, gloves, caps, and the like have been found in Burleith, including 42 since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11th.

The MedStar Georgetown hospital administration has been repeatedly notified of the issue and even provided photos and video of their employees, but has not taken any significant action to prevent medical waste from being discarded in our neighborhood. The concern is particularly troubling because of the proximity of this medical waste to nearby Ellington Track and Field where neighborhood children and adults often play and exercise.

The DC Department of Health investigated the issue in October 2019 and found that “[t]here is no refuting that the Burleith Community is experiencing an issue regarding discarded medical latex gloves, caps, masks and the like for several months,” but refused to take action because it said it did not have jurisdiction to do so. The Office of the Attorney General agreed to look into the matter in December. Likewise, the DC Department of Public Works met with a MedStar Georgetown administrator in January of this year to address the problem, but the medical waste problem has nevertheless continued.

I am sensitive to the timing given that DC hospitals generally, including MedStar Georgetown Hospital specifically, are likely to be inundated with COVID-19 patients, but the fact remains that the potential danger posed by the improper disposal of medical waste is unfortunately at its highest point right now and MedStar Georgetown hospital administrators have had a significant period of time in which to remedy the issue since they were first notified in June 2019.”


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