The primary responsibility of those engaged in healthcare is to heal and to promote human health, but hospital operations can have large-scale negative effects on the natural environment. It has been established that energy usage, waste and toxic chemicals have a direct effect on public health. So healthcare facilities are taking the lead in correcting and preventing their negative impacts on the environment — while at the same time implementing ways to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively. The organization Practice Greenhealth has found that the most successful environmental sustainability programs in healthcare facilities have support from their leadership. In 2010, 83 percent of Practice Greenhealth award winners had representation from senior leadership on their green teams. Engaged leadership in environmental sustainability programming includes building a team (with team leaders), using a set of reporting metrics, developing an annual plan and setting goals, and communicating success stories.
- Develop education and communication strategies to convey the organization's sustainability initiatives
- Host a sustainabiilty internship
- Develop visual displays to patients, describing the organization's sustainability commitment
- Implement ways to operate more efficiently
- Investigate ways to recognize staff for innovative environmental sustainable programming
- Participate in Healthier Hospital's Engaged Leadership Challenge
Stony Brook University Hospital was the first hospital in the nation to pledge to reduce its environmental impact through a Go Green Memorandum of Understanding agreement with the EPA. The signed agreement outlined extensive goals and strategies to reduce energy, conserve water, recycle solid waste, and implement environmentally preferable purchasing and green landscaping.
We built a robust healthcare sustainability program inspired through these initiatives: Less Waste, Safer Chemicals, Greening the OR, Healthy Food, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, Energy/Water Conservation, Green Building and Engaged Leadership. Each initiative was assigned a leader, a team and a set of reporting metrics to develop an annual strategic plan and set goals.
We developed a solid structure of reporting sustainability results, via our Healthcare Sustainability Committee. Reporting is done on an annual calendar year basis. Strategic goals are reviewed for completion and new goals are developed for the next reporting year.
Over the years, we’ve been recognized for our innovative environmental programming. We have received many awards for our efforts, including the Vizient Sustainability Excellence Award, the Making Medicine Mercury Free Award, EPA’s Environmental Quality Award, the SterilMed Best Practice for Environmental Excellence Award and several Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change awards.
EC0069 Hospital Recycling and Sustainability
EC0040 Reusable Hospital Surplus Property
LD0105 Clinical Products Request, Standards and Evaluation Program and Process
Carol Gomes, Jill Kavoukian