Date: April 5, 2012
- Gary Cohen, President and Co-Founder, Health Care Without Harm
- John Messervy, AIA, Director of Capital and Facility Planning, Partners HealthCare, Inc.
- Amy Collins, MD, Emergency Physician, MetroWest Medical Center; Chair, Go Green Committee, MetroWest
How green is your hospital? Green, as you know, has become shorthand for everything from recycling to the use of safer products to shrinking one's carbon footprint to preventing pollutants from spewing into the air. There are any number of urgent reasons for the health care sector to be examining its green practices. One of them is just the sheer amount of resources hospitals consume: in the US, that’s tons and tons of water and 836 trillion BTU of energy annually. These same hospitals dispose of 6,600 tons of waste per day. Fortunately, we can all now point to visible efforts at most hospitals to “think and act” a lot greener. But even these well-intentioned efforts have a tendency to stall or lose steam, too often dependent on staff volunteers and lacking a bigger, bolder vision that cuts across the entire organization and how it's run.
Aiming to build on existing progress and to make a giant leap forward on the environmental front, three organizations are now joining forces to launch what’s being dubbed the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. The new effort is anchored by some large hospital systems in the US whose green practices are already exemplary and demonstrate the wisdom behind linking environmental stewardship to efforts to improve safety and reduce health care costs. The Healthier Hospitals Initiative hopes to enlist some 1,000 hospitals in the broad-based campaign, focused on an agenda that includes increased use of safer materials and products for patients and staff alike; reduction of energy consumption and waste; and adoption of policies to ensure sustainability.
WIHI host Madge Kaplan welcomes three guests to the program. Gary Cohen is the co-founder and president of Healthcare Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth, whose work has helped lay the groundwork for this larger initiative. Dr. Amy Collins, who leads a number of efforts at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, is helping MetroWest garner a number of environmental excellence awards. John Messervy founded the Partners Sustainability Initiative in 2008, and he has tremendous knowledge of the environmental engineering changes possible throughout a large hospital system.