Eric Legras … THEDOCTORFACTORY … Health & Wellness Strategic Marketing

Healthier Hospitals Agenda Aims to Improve Sustainability by The Doctor Factory
Posted by: Chris Gaerig, Online Editor

Six leading healthcare systems recently announced that they have formed the Healthier Hospitals Initiative to help speed the healthcare sector toward environmental sustainability. The six systems—Advocate Health Care, Catholic Healthcare West, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA, Inc.), Kaiser Permanente, MedStar Health, and Partners Healthcare, introduced the Healthier Hospitals Agenda, a document that outlines specific activities that hospitals can take to reduce their environmental footprint and improve health outcomes. The overall goal of this national initiative is to use a coordinated approach to achieve sustainability throughout the healthcare sector.

“Collectively, the healthcare sector can stimulate the marketplace to make more eco-friendly products available, and we can inform public policies that support and facilitate the transition to environmental sustainability,” stated John Messervy, AIA, director of capital and facility planning, Partners Healthcare Boston, Massachusets. “These measures can greatly reduce the overall costs of healthcare, as well as help protect the health of our patients, staff and community.”

The healthcare sector, comprising 16% of GNP, has a large environmental footprint. Hospitals are the second most energy intensive buildings in the country, generating 6,600 tons of waste a day.

“Practicing good environmental stewardship is one way of fulfilling our role as healthcare providers to the communities we serve,” stated Kathy Gerwig, vice-president for workplace safety and environmental stewardship officer, Kaiser Permanente. “A sector-wide approach to sustainability will provide the benefits of better health not just in one community, but to the entire nation—by reducing the overall disease burden of the population, and the enormous financial and human toll associated with it.”

Goals of the Healthier Hospitals Agenda include:

  • Improve environmental health and patient safety: engage in environmentally preferred purchasing, reduce chemical use, actively seek alternative sustainable products, engage in green building, and purchase and serve healthy food and foods made in sustainable ways
  • Institutionalize sustainability and safety: make sustainability principles an organizational priority with CEO-level support. Integrate into all areas of the organization and its activities, internally and externally. Encourage and incorporate sustainability as an essential element in the culture of the organization.

Hospitals can demonstrate their support for the program by becoming a sponsoring organization, or by signing a pledge of endorsement and participating in activities to implement the Healthier Hospital Agenda in their institutions. They can also participate in the online sharing of information and expertise and collaborate with other healthcare institutions to encourage and assist with sustainability efforts.

Health Care Without Harm, Practice Greenhealth, and The Center for Health Design will provide expertise and technical assistance and will develop and implement training and other programs to help hospitals carry out the HHI agenda recommendations.


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