April 27, 2012
Healthier Hospitals Initiative: Steps Towards ‘Greening’ the Healthcare Industry
By: Eliza Machek
The newly formed Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) is committed to integrating sustainability into the Healthcare Industry with a focus on improving the health and safety of patients, staff and communities.
The coalition of more than 500 hospitals has announced a “call to action” for those in the Healthcare community to create positive change on the environmental impacts of the field. Large quantities of waste, in combination with massive energy usage, have made the Healthcare Sector a major consumer of natural resources. The Healthier Hospitals Initiative seeks to educate and activate those in the industry through offering an assortment of free resources to any hospital interested in joining the initiative.
The process towards injecting sustainability into the Healthcare Industry has been streamlined into 6 challenge areas:
- Sustainability implementation needs to start from the top, whether it is in the form of Strategic Business Plans or the gradual integration of ‘green’ practices into daily routines.
- The Healthcare Industry has the power to promote and model healthy eating habits through providing access to healthier foods. Simple changes, such as purchasing healthy beverages and local/sustainable foods, can have a significant impact on the health and welfare of a Hospital’s patients, employees, visitors and the communities they serve.
- Currently hospitals use more than 8% of the nation’s energy. The HHI provides free ‘how-to’ guides to encourage and direct hospitals towards lowering their energy consumption and costs.
- By increasing recycling and diversion rates through the use of a waste management action plan, Hospitals and Health Care Systems can make a significant decrease in the nearly 11.7 thousand tons for waste generated daily.
- HHI promotes the switch to safe and effective chemical alternatives which reduce worker and patient exposure to harmful substances that result in health problems. Helpful resources, including a compilation of safer chemicals policies, will enable Hospitals to take the steps towards reducing or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals.
- The immense purchasing power of the Healthcare Industry has the potential to impact the market in a positive and environmentally-friendly way. By supporting the use of products that are reusable and eco-friendly, HHI guides Hospitals and Health Care Systems to use their dollars to generate less waste and protect natural resources.
The Healthier Hospitals Initiative challenges those within the Healthcare Industry to play a key role in affecting widespread change. The initiative has received major buy in thus far from companies leading the industry, such as Bon Secours, Tenet Healthcare, Advocate Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Health Initiatives, and many others.
Understanding the value of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative enables Timmons Group to provide our clients within the Healthcare Industry with an opportunity to advance both their company and the Healthcare field as a whole.