An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News & Gallery


News | Jan. 10, 2024

Walter Reed Gains New Momentum in 2024 Supporting the Defense Health Agency’s Sustainability Initiative

By James Black, WRNMMC, Office of Command Communications

A new generation of leaders committed to sustainability takes the helm at Walter Reed, anxiously accepting the invitation from the Defense Health Agency to find creative solutions to creating greenspace, managing hospital resources and disposing of waste in more environmentally friendly forms.

U.S. Army Cpt. (Dr.) Carl R. Tischbein, who earned his medical degree from Drexel University’s College of Medicine, recently joined Walter Reed’s Sustainability Team, eager to share his insight and ideas.

Insider’s Perspective on Operating Room Waste Disposal

“My goals are to offer an insider’s perspective on perioperative waste and develop plans to simultaneously reduce waste generation, save taxpayer money and play a small part in preserving our planet for the next generation,” shared Tischbein, a New Hampshire native who enjoys sports and the great outdoors.

According to Tischbein, in the United States 40 percent of anesthesia-specific waste and a large portion of surgical waste is recyclable yet most if not all of it is typically discarded or incinerated. “Most disposable products have reusable alternatives that are just as safe and are actually more cost effective than their single-use alternative,” noted Tischbein.

That’s why he wants Walter Reed to partner with device manufactures that encourage equipment reprocessing. It’s all part of a milieu of ideas Tischbein proposes to explore more deeply, including working with pharmacy and drug manufacturers to optimize concentrations and dosing of common medications to reduce drug waste, which must be incinerated.

Like most greenspace advocates, Tischbein wants to encourage manufacturers to switch to more bio-degradable ways to ship and store products, vastly reducing reliance on plastics which take up an abundance of landfill and ocean space, endangering wildlife and aquatic species.

Changing the Dynamics of Hospital Energy Use

Tischbein believes there’s merit in optimizing the efficiency of Walter Reed’s operating rooms HVAC systems, which reportedly account for 65 percent of the average hospital’s energy use.

As an anesthesiologist resident at Walter Reed, Tischbein understands that anesthesia gases contribute to a small but not insignificant portion of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Finding Solutions Is a Continual Process of Discovery

Prior to discovering his interest in medicine, Tischbein wanted to become a pilot or an entrepreneur. But at Lehigh University, Tischbein’ s interest in the natural sciences surfaced, becoming an unexpected voyage passion and voyage into the world of medicine.

Even after applying to medical school, Tischbein wasn’t sure what field of medicine he wanted to practice. However, as a third-year medical student Tischbein experienced an “ah ha” moment after spending a few weeks rotating on an anesthesiology service.

“It’s a perfect mixture of procedural and critical care skills that are relevant in almost any environment,” explained Tischbein. “Every single day is different and exciting, and as anesthesiologists, we get to play an important role in a variety of procedures.”

Mentors Matter

Tischbein credits U.S. Navy Commander (Dr.) John R. Benjamin, a professor with the Uniformed Services University’s F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, with mentoring residents by leading by example.

“He’s always calm and composed, even during the most stressful situations, and knows exactly what steps to take next,” shared Tischbein.
“Dr Benjamin constantly goes out of his way to teach residents and medical students’ important skills and facts that they will carry with them throughout their medical careers.”

On the Path to a More Sustainable Future

Earlier this year, Walter Reed received the Greenhealth Partner for Change Award from Practice Greenhealth, the nation's leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. The award was presented during the CleanMed 2023 Conference held May 23-25 in Pittsburgh.

Walter Reed’s Sustainability Team met in December, discussing progress on dispersing more recyclable receptacles throughout the hospital and investigating partnering with vendors who earn high marks from Practice Greenhealth.
Don't forget to keep your family's information up-to-date in DEERS.