Zoo News: May 2023

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From Tom Atherton – CEO

Welcome to the May edition of Zoo News.

This edition of Zoo News is one of the largest yet with loads of interesting and engaging content.

In this Zoo News we interview Randy Rufo, the Nurse Unit Manager – Sterile Processing Services for RVEEH. We feature some great tips about maintaining blanket warming cabinets and changes to the timeframe for NSQHS implementation for Australian and New Zealand standards. We also take time to celebrate the announcement of the Epworth/Atherton Educational Scholarship, the fundraising efforts of some of our staff, our support towards the prevention of cardiac death in the workplace and one epic fish. Enjoy!

Tom Atherton | CEO



Randy Rufo

Nurse Unit Manager – Sterile Processing Services
The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear hospital

Randy Rufo

Describe your role, how long have you been working in this role and at this location?

I am the Nurse Unit Manager in the Sterile Processing Services (SPS) Department of the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH). I have been in this role at the RVEEH since May 2022. I have been working in a management capacity in this environment for about 7 years. Prior to working in sterilization services, I worked as a perioperative nurse for many years. I have also worked as an instrument technician overseas in a busy 24-theatre hospital. My experience in both nursing in theatre and as an instrument technician helps me in decision-making when dealing with matters pertaining to instruments, procurement, set-up among others. My experience and understanding of both theatre and sterilization areas helps me better address matters when need be.

What is your connection with sterilisation products, which of Atherton’s products do you use?

My connection /relationship with Atherton is as a client with our new SPS department supplied with brand new equipment by Atherton. This includes automated washer disinfector, ultrasonic machines, steam and plasma sterilizers, automated chemical dosing system, and accessories. The equipment supplied by Atherton for reprocessing surgical instruments include the Gorilla steam sterilizers, Dragon plasma / low-temperature sterilizers, Platypus Ultrasonic cleaner and automated washers. We also operate the accessories that come with the equipment which are supplied by Atherton which include washer and sterilizer racks, trolleys and height adjustable sinks. Atherton also maintains the SQUID chemical dosing system we use for our automated washer including supply of detergent. The involvement of Atherton extends to servicing the equipment to ensure maximum operability, reduce downtime, and prolong the life cycle of the equipment.

How do you describe your job to friends and family?

My job is to manage a vital department in the organization that supports the maintenance of a safe environment through the provision of thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and/or sterilized instruments for patient use. My job also entails ensuring compliance with all standards, infection control and work health and safety policies and procedures.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Each day in my department is different and challenges come in different levels of difficulty or complexity. The challenge is how to maintain the same level of service every day in order to provide excellent support, and prevent disruption of services or cancellation of planned surgical activities. It is important to have a team with a good understanding of the standards and their relevance to their practice. It is also important to have a team that has sufficient understanding of the importance of meeting the challenges in the department without compromising on safety for themselves and clients through adherence to the established infection control and work health and safety practices as well as to national and international standards. Maintaining a good relationship with clients to facilitate communication and resolution of any concerns or issues is likewise paramount. Furthermore, a “can do” attitude coupled with “thinking outside the box” will go a long way in facing the challenges in this environment.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Problem solving is one thing that I enjoy and knowing that I am able to contribute to the resolution of problems or issues gives me satisfaction. As a Manager, I see my decisions as bearing strong impact on clients and in how my department runs and therefore am very careful when making decisions. Knowing that the impact of my decisions will make it safer, easier, maximize resources, reduce manual handling or meet other compliance requirement is a satisfying part of my job. Furthermore, working with diverse group of people with differing views and perspectives allows me to grow as a person.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My free time is currently occupied by playing a mobile game called Mobile Legends. It’s a competitive game of strategy and patience which suits my personality. I have not been a gamer in the past and only recently started playing this game (less than a year) as a challenge to myself. Playing this game takes me out of my usual pattern of activities helping me keep up with the current trend and at the same time testing my motor skills.

What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

Having worked with people from different backgrounds over the years, I have learned to be more open-minded. We live and work in a very diverse environment and it is to our benefit to be open-minded and learn from each other so that we can foster a work environment or community that is conducive to living and working for everyone. I have also learned not to limit myself but to give myself opportunities for growth. Sometimes we do not give enough credit to our skill set or capacity to advance and this prevents us from achieving more in our career or in life. Another lesson I have learned is to trust myself. We work with people with their own vested interests and sometimes their views affect our decision making. We should learn to trust ourselves and stand for our views and decisions for as long as we have the best interest at heart.

You’re happiest when?

I am happiest when I am home with my family!



The importance of a lint-free warming cabinet

Lint 3

Routine scheduled maintenance is vital to all essential sterilization and washing equipment because breakdowns cost time and money, but sometimes the ramifications of failing to maintain equipment can be a bit more extreme. Allowing too much time between the maintenance of blanket warming cabinets can cause lint to build up in internal cavities and around the fan. Lint is dry and fine and easily builds up over time, much like in a household dryer. The circulation fan is a common spot for the lint to build up as the air flows around this area and it is by its very nature, hot when the unit is running. If left too long this creates the right type of environment for lint to smoulder and even catch fire.

Atherton recommends an annual service for their blanket warmers but in extremely busy environments bi-annual servicing is suggested to ensure there are no issues. Maintenance includes emptying the contents of the cabinet including the shelving, and removing the internal side covers. Any built-up lint is then swept out of the internal cavities and from around the 240V circulation fan.

It takes approximately one hour per unit to fully service a blanket warming cabinet and Atherton recommends this process is undertaken on all brands of blanket warming cabinets.

For information about servicing of blanket warming cabinets contact us at salesandservice@atherton.net or phone on 1300 580 870.


Catch of the day


Steve Irvine WA Service technician Steve Irvine has been servicing and validating equipment for our Kimberley customers for more than a decade and in doing so has cleverly combined his passion for fishing with work. Steve can regularly be found in his spare time between service visits at local fishing spots.


Winner of the Epworth/Atherton Educational Scholarship Program Announced.

Image011Atherton is very pleased to announce the winner of the Atherton CSSD Staff Scholarship, Shannon Gracie. Shannon is the Acting Nurse Unit Manager at Epworth Geelong.

Atherton is proud to be able to present the Atherton CSSD Staff Scholarship in partnership with Epworth. Atherton has a long history of partnering with the medical industry over its 130 years, and investing in the future through the Epworth staff scholarship program is a perfect way of reflecting Atherton’s own commitment to development in people, innovation, education and research.




Atherton Study Days


Melbourne – July 20 and September 21st

Seats are still available for the next Atherton Study Days in July and September. These in-house training sessions offer an opportunity for new and experienced CSSD staff to learn about steam and low-temperature sterilisation, mechanical decontamination and validation while getting hands-on with the equipment. The day also includes a tour of the facilities where our world-class sterilizers are manufactured.

Date: July 20 or September 21, 2023.

Location: Atherton Head Office, 372-376 Darebin Road, Alphington. Victoria

Numbers are limited so don’t miss out. To book call Customer Service on 1300 580 870 or salesandservice@atherton.net to reserve a place.

Tea and coffee along with a light lunch will be provided. Closed shoes must be worn for the factory tour.


FSRACA National Conference 2023

Make sure you book your tickets for this year’s Federation of Sterilizing Research Advisory Councils of Australia (FSRACA) National Conference (Wednesday 9th – Friday 11th August). This year’s conference is shaping up to be a huge one and Atherton will have a booth at the expo so be sure to come and visit us to have a chat.


Atherton and Heart of the Nation 


Atherton is proud to support Heart of the Nation – an initiative that recognises organisations that demonstrate they take the prevention of sudden cardiac death seriously by having an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) on site. As a supporter, Atherton now has AED’s at all of its offices around the country.Pictured here is Atherton NSW Service Manager Scott Tattersall with founder and CEO of The Heart of the Nation, Greg Page (also ex Yellow Wiggle).


Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital

Study Days at Atherton

Atherton recently had the pleasure of hosting three workshops for the CSSD staff from the Victorian Royal Eye and Ear Hospital at our facility in Alphington.

Hosted by Brett Benz, our guests learnt about how steam sterilizers work, validations on steam sterilizers, washer disinfectors and plasma sterilizers and were treated to a tour of the manufacturing floor.

The study days were enjoyed by all the staff who attended.

Ear Study

L to R: Jc Samaniego, Olga Rybalko, Oggie Guangul, Cristina Alvarado, Randy Rufo


Ear Study 4

L to R: Criz Amar, Mercy Quinones, Jenene Marshall, Sinsy Xavier, James Cherappat


Ear Study 3

L to R: Kaylah Sollis, Johnny Cirelli (Atherton factory), Sharon Tang , Lorenzo Palumbo, Georgina Caruana, Sonu Mohan, Suchitra D’Avoine


Timeframe for NSQHS Standards reviewed

The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) has reviewed the timeframe for the implementation of AS/NZS 4187:2014, requiring the gap analysis and subsequent implementation plans to be finalised by December 31, 2023. These outline the compliance with national or international standards for:

  • effective segregation of clean and dirty activities
  • storage of sterile stock in compliant shelving
  • cleaning, disinfecting and sterilising equipment
  • monitoring water quality.

The changes are in response to concerns raised by health service organisations and state and territory health departments.

The required plans must include:

  • A strategy to identify and manage any current and emerging risks associated with the compliance gap(s)
  • The timeframes and actions required to address the compliance gap(s) for:
    • Segregation of clean and dirty activities
    • Design of storage areas for sterile stock
    • Replacement of AS/NZS 4187:2014 non-compliant cleaning, disinfecting and sterilising equipment
    • Monitoring requirements for water quality
  • Executive endorsement.

Extensions on these deadlines can be sought for new or redeveloped facilities or locations with planned and funded redevelopment scheduled to be completed after December 31, 2024. These will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Whenever an organisation commences occupation of a new build, the new facility must be compliant with relevant national or international standards for the segregation of clean and dirty activities.

All of Atherton’s cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing equipment meets the requirements outlined in AS/NZS 4187:2014 and we can also provide the water quality testing. Contact the Atherton Sales and Service team on 1300 580 870 or email at salesandservice@atherton.net for replacement of non-compliant cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing equipment or to organise monitoring for water quality or if you want us to check if your current equipment is compliant.

For more information on the standards and the requirements click here.


Pushup 600pxAtherton team member takes on push-up challenge. 

Atherton’s Victorian Project Manager, Leigh Peterson, has signed up for this year’s Push-Up Challenge. This fitness event involves raising money for mental health by committing to 3,144 push-ups between June 1-23 – that is almost 137 per day, and one for every Australian who committed suicide in 2021.

Help Leigh to raise money for this important cause by clicking here.



Atherton Study Days


Date: July 20 or September 21, 2023.

Location: Atherton Head Office, 372-376 Darebin Road, Alphington. Victoria

FSRACA National Conference 2023

Federation of Sterilizing Research Advisory Councils of Australia (FSRACA) National Conference
Wednesday 9th – Friday 11th August


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