Hospitals and other medical facilities are responsible for keeping people healthy, but what about keeping the planet healthy? Sustainability is a key concern for many hospital administrators, but implementing green practices while still running an efficient, patient-focused facility is a challenge. Take a look at why sustainability is so important for hospitals and learn how hospitals are striving to develop more eco-friendly practices.
Conquering the Need for Sustainability
According to MedAssure, hospitals across the nation generate roughly 5,500 tons of waste per day. That equals about 2 million tons of waste per year. That may not seem like a significant amount when compared to the 254 million tons of municipal solid waste that the United States produced in 2013, but any effort to keep materials out of landfills is a worthwhile endeavor.
Sustainability is important for more than what it does to help the environment. It can also help hospitals run more efficiently. Hospitals and Health Networks says that sustainability can reduce costs, reduce risks, and promote a positive public perception.
Furthermore, by serving as community leaders in sustainability, hospitals show that they recognize the impact that improperly handled waste can have on public health.
Creating Sustainability Initiatives and Goals
Fortunately, many hospitals and healthcare leaders are showing that they recognize the vital need for sustainability. An article from Environmental Leader points out that more than half of healthcare professionals worldwide use sustainability as a factor in their decision-making, and about 80 percent want to make that the case in the near future.
There are plentiful resources that can help hospitals move toward sustainability. For example, Sustainability Roadmap for Hospitals is an online initiative that provides information to hospitals that can help them plan and implement a path toward greater sustainability.
Specific sustainability goals differ between specific facilities according to their circumstances. Administrators need to consider a range of factors when they’re setting these goals, such as what can be achieved within a reasonable amount of time and how the goals will impact daily operations.
Recognizing Sustainable Hospitals
Advocate Christ Medical Center and Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, topped Becker’s Hospital Review’s list of the 50 of the Greenest Hospitals in America for 2015. The hospital won this honor thanks to its energy conservation efforts and its other green initiatives. All of the hospitals on the list have demonstrated in one way or another that they place emphasis on protecting the environment.
Another hospital that stands out as green is the Mayo Clinic’s main campus in Rochester, Minnesota. The facility has been actively recycling since the early 1990s, and it does more than recycle basics such as cardboard and plastic. It also recycles light bulbs, ink cartridges, batteries, and appliances. The Mayo Clinic even reduces food waste by sending it to local farms.
Healthcare administrators face the challenge of balancing quality patient care, financial issues, and environmental concerns. It isn’t an easy task, but by recognizing the need for sustainability and setting appropriate goals, it is possible for hospitals to move toward a greener future.