Most of us using today’s healthcare system would be interested to know the initiatives that are taking place across the country to encourage healthcare organizations to shift to a more sustainable business model and address environmental impacts. Healthier Hospitals Initiatives (HHI) is a national campaign organized to lead change in the healthcare sector with a call to action for the entire industry.
It’s logical that healthy people need a healthy environment. HHI initiatives encourage healthcare systems to measure the impact on improved patient, worker and community health while reducing costs. According to HHI, “Twelve of the largest, most influential U.S. health systems, comprising over 490 hospitals with more than $20 billion in purchasing power, worked with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Center for Health Design and Practice Greenhealth to create HHI as a guide for hospitals to reduce energy and waste, choose safer and less toxic products, and purchase and serve healthier foods.”
Baseline objectives for the organization include:
Actively engaging leadership and garnering support throughout the organization with commitment statements and measurable benchmarks.
Providing staff, patients and visitors with a signed, formal pledge to provide a healthier food policy.
Work to reduce consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by metering energy use.
Increase recycling and reduce waste including solid waste, regulated medical waste, and hazardous waste.
Pledge to transition to materials that feature safer chemicals including DEHP/PVC reduction.
Purchase environmentally preferable products including medical products.
Participating healthcare organizations establish measurable objectives and identify metrics for each. Reports are regularly generated for the challenges that have been committed to. In addition, HHI also publishes Case Studies such as the Partners Healthcare Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s remediation and redevelopment of a waterfront brownfield site reflecting their commitment to the “rehabilitation of people and place”. In fact, two years ago Partners hired a Director of Sustainable Initiatives and formed a Steering Committee to guide this important work!
Tools, infographics and more information on the Healthier Hospitals Initiative can be found at healthierhospitals.org.