Target 8: Tides bring in medical waste to Tampa’s Bayshore

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Syringes, hospital masks and gloves are all washing up on a small beach near the Davis Islands Bridge by Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard.  Right across the water from where a lot of the waste is washing up, sits Tampa General Hospital.

For more than two years, bicyclist Jay Magner has made it a point to stop his ride and pick up trash floating onto the small beach and ramp.guylooking

After picking up hospital waste week after week, Magner hoped more than a year ago to open some eyes at TGH by delivering a bagful of the goodies he found.  A friend recorded him as he walked into the hospital’s main entrance and dropped off the waste.

“Probably, it doesn’t happen everyday that somebody walks into TGH with a bag of garbage that includes medical waste from the Davis Islands Bridge.  Maybe, I would get their attention, but it did not,” Magner said.

Magner said he first noticed the debris as he bicycled along Davis Islands and Bayshore.

“We find like, medical gloves and masks.  But, we also find syringes and the EKG electrodes and wristbands,” he said.

Every weekend for about two years, he and a couple of friends fill garbage bags with trash and medical waste.

“A lot of it washes into the mangrove, and we take it out of there,” Magner explained.  “And then, all the shrubberies on the other side [near TGH] are always full of garbage.  A lot of it is medical waste, especially the gloves and the masks and the hair nets.”

Target 8 also found several hospital gloves, a wristband, and hundreds of cigarette butts right next to the water, in that shrubbery.

Magner points out, it’s a concern that needs to be addressed.

“Recently, we heard about a manatee that died because it ate so many plastic bags.  We pick up maybe five or six plastic bags out of the water here every single week,” he explained.

In October,  Florida Fish and Wildlife brought a very sick, two-week-old manatee to Lowry Park Zoo.

Staff named him Emoji.

Veterinarians found his stomach full of trash, including plastic bags.

In late January, Emoji died.

Despite numerous phone calls to Tampa General Hospital, Magner has been unable to get a conversation started.

It is TGH’s contention that the trash does not necessarily come from employees and the hospital.

“We strongly encourage our staff to pick up litter anywhere they see it on our campus,” TGH spokesman John Dunn wrote in an email.  “We believe people should act responsibly and not litter.  However, what the public does when they’re not on our property is beyond our control.”

Magner believes there is a simply solution, but he said TGH must first acknowledge there is a problem.

“I want to see garbage cans placed in the areas right adjacent to the hospital property, where they tell people they have to go off property to smoke and where they have to remove garbage,” he said.

If you have something that you think needs to be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800-338-0808.


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