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Health systems urge hospitals to go green

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Eleven health systems, including several with operations in Virginia, began a national campaign Tuesday urging hospitals to conserve energy and reduce waste.

The health systems are sponsors of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a partnership coordinated by Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and the Center for Health Design. HHI noted that few sectors of the economy consume as many resources—electricity, water, cleaning products, chemicals and food—as health care.

“Hospitals can no longer afford to be out of sync in their day-to-day work of healing and treating and the environmental impact they have in communities across the country,” Knox Singleton, CEO of Falls Church-based Inova Health System, said in a statement.  “By reducing waste and conserving energy, among other challenges, we can not only reduce operational costs, we can improve the health of people in our communities before they ever enter a hospital.”

In addition to Inova, the sponsoring health systems include Advocate Health Care, Bon Secours Health System, Catholic Health Initiatives, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), Hospital Corporation of America, Kaiser Permanente, MedStar Health, Partners HealthCare, Tenet Health Systems and Vanguard Health Systems.

The campaign urges the nation’s hospitals to commit to the three-year initiative to improve the health and safety of patients, staff and communities by:
• Engaging in leadership on environmental health and sustainability.
• Serving healthier foods and beverages.
• Reducing energy use.
• Reducing waste and recycle.
• Using safer chemicals.
• Purchasing environmentally preferable products.

Inova said that under its program, the health system has eliminated a million pounds of regulated medical waste and recycled more than 4 million pounds of material.


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