Newswise — Inspired by the amplified courage, empathy and continuing dedication of healthcare professionals over the past two years, the Sculpture and Fashion students of North Bergen High School, North Bergen, NJ, created an elegant, angelic-type dress using clean, recycled blue (sterilization) wrap, the material that surgical devices are wrapped in, sourced from Hackensack University Medical Center. The story behind the design of the dress - aptly named “The Nightingale” - was that it was submitted to a contest sponsored by Junk Kouture, an organization that challenges high school students, aged 13-18, to design, create and model couture made from 100% recycled materials. 

Blue wrap plays a critical role in maintaining the sterility of surgical instruments prior to use in the operating room. But Practice Greenhealth estimates some 255 million pounds of it is thrown away each year.

For hospitals without a sustainability program, “what to do with all that wrap” is a common dilemma. For those intent on reducing their environmental footprint, like Hackensack University Medical Center, the durable fabric has endless possibilities which is why it was donated to North Bergen High School. 

One study shows that blue wrap equates to 19% of the medical waste stream. The wrap made of 99% polypropylene then ends up in landfills where it can take anywhere from 20-30 years to totally break down. This characteristic poses massive environmental concerns because the additives used in the manufacturing may include toxins like cadmium and lead.

“Donating the blue wrap to North Bergen High School where the students will repurpose it into something new and exciting is a wonderful collaboration,” says Bonnie Eskenazi, Managing Director, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center. “It gives our hospital a significant opportunity to reduce waste while sparking creativity and giving new life to the product.”

The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Center’s mission is to identify, control and  ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health. 

“The Nightingale,” which is also made of discarded pool insulation, is meant to symbolize the bravery and comfort that healthcare heroes embody everyday. Students incorporated 600+ flowers, as a symbol of growth and a set of wings made out of polyethylene foam to subtly recognize the Nightingale bird, leading back to Florence Nightingale who was the first nurse who developed the standard of care experienced in the medical industry. Students say that the wings represent a mythological impact nurses have on our lives and wings helped carry that message. 

This masterpiece required the help and contribution of two supervising North Bergen High School teachers - Mrs. Marlene Sapoff, Fashion and Interior Design Teacher and Mr. Steven Defendini, Sculpture Teacher and Art Director - and fashion students Christopher King, Myles Perez, Jazzlynn Vargas, and Josselyn Garcia. 

Maggy Petrosian, long-time HUMC volunteer at The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®, helps prepare the repurposed blue wrap. She painstakingly removes the many pieces of tape that are affixed to the wrap and also separates the blue and white sheets, so that they can be used for art and fashion projects.  

“This dress is a way for us to express our enormous gratitude to all healthcare workers,” said Sapoff. The finalists of the Junk Kouture contest are expected to be chosen in June. 

“The Nightingale” is a true team effort, and Hackensack University Medical Center is proud to be a part of such a beautiful story and creation. 


Hackensack University Medical Center, a 771-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in New Jersey.  Founded in 1888, it was the county’s first hospital. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet®-recognized hospital for nursing excellence, receiving its sixth consecutive designation in 2019 from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The academic flagship of the Hackensack Meridian Health network, Hackensack University Medical Center ranked #1 in New Jersey and #7 in the New York metro area by U.S. News & World Report’s 2021-2022 “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll. Hackensack University Medical Center is also rated as High Performing in 14 procedures and conditions, and sets the standard for all New Jersey hospitals in several specialties including New Jersey's only nationally-ranked Neurology & Neurosurgery and Urology programs; ranked nationally in Cardiology & Heart Surgery; New Jersey’s Best Urology and Neurology & Neurosurgery programs since 2013; with Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics and Orthopedics ranked among the top in New Jersey.  This award-winning care is provided on a campus that is home to facilities such as John Theurer Cancer Center, a consortium member of the NCI-designated Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and recognized as the #1 hospital for cancer care in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report’s 2021-22 "Best Hospitals" Honor Roll; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, recognized as being in the top 1% of children’s hospitals in the nation and #1 children’s hospital in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report’s 2021-22 "Best Hospitals" Honor Roll; as well as the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center. Hackensack University Medical Center is listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. Our comprehensive clinical research portfolio includes studies focused on precision medicine, translational medicine, immunotherapy, cell therapy, and vaccine development. The hospital has embarked on the largest healthcare expansion project ever approved by the state: Construction of the Helena Theurer Pavilion, a 530,000-sq.-ft., nine-story building, which began in 2019. A $714.2 million endeavor, the pavilion is one the largest healthcare capital projects in New Jersey and will house 24 state-of-the-art operating rooms with intraoperative MRI capability, 50 ICU beds, and 150 private patient rooms, including a dedicated 50-bed Orthopedic Institute.


Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit healthcare organization that is the largest, most comprehensive, and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research, and life-enhancing care. 

Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals - Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals - JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick. 

Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 36,000 team members, and 7,000 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The network’s notable distinctions include having four of its hospitals are among the top hospitals in New Jersey for 2020-21, according to U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, the health system has more top-ranked hospitals than any system in New Jersey. Children’s Health is again ranked a top provider of pediatric health care in the United States and earned top 50 rankings in the annual U.S. News’ 2020-21 Best Children’s Hospitals report.   Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker’s Healthcare’s “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019” list. 

The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its first class of students in 2018 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. The Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), housed in a fully renovated state-of-the-art facility, seeks to translate current innovations in science to improve clinical outcomes for patients with cancer, infectious diseases and other life-threatening and disabling conditions.

Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it. 

Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies. 

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Newswise: Wrapped with Inspiration this Earth Day 2022



Newswise: Wrapped with Inspiration this Earth Day 2022