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Numerous facilities join Healthy Hospitals Initiative

Sunday April 8, 2012
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More than 500 hospitals in 11 of the largest U.S. health systems have joined the Healther Hospitals Initiative, a three-year program to improve the health and safety of patients, staff and communities by using newly issued guidelines in the following areas:

Engage in leadership on environmental health and sustainability; serve healthier foods and beverages; reduce energy use; reduce waste and recycle; use safer chemicals; and purchase environmentally preferable products.

HHI is a partnership coordinated by Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harm and the Center for Health Design. "The growing burden of chronic disease in the U.S. makes it imperative to accelerate the healthcare sector’s adoption of smart, cost-saving environmental practices," Gary Cohen, founder and president of Health Care Without Harm, said in a news release.

The American Nurses Association has pledged its support for the initiative

The initiative’s launch coincides with the Health Care Without Harm/HHI Research Collaborative’s release of "Creating a Culture of Sustainability: Leadership, Coordination and Performance Measurement Decisions in Health Care," a report by Tonya Boone, PhD, of George Mason University, examining the outcomes of environmental sustainability initiatives at eight healthcare systems in the United States.

Boone's research focused on illuminating organizational factors that contributed to the programs’ achievements and cost savings. For example, by creating an environmentally preferable purchasing program, nationwide provider Kaiser Permanente estimated it would save about $26 million a year. Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West) saved $5.4 million in 2010 by increasing the amount of reusable products it purchased for its hospitals and clinics in California, Arizona and Nevada.

During the next three years, HHI will gather data and metrics from participating hospitals to demonstrate the impact these strides are having on the health and safety of patients, workers and communities, and on reducing healthcare expenditures.

Key successes already are apparent in the industry, Cohen said: "We’ve already taken carcinogens out of cancer centers and chemicals linked to asthma and birth defects out of children’s hospitals. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s smart business."

The 11 sponsoring health systems are Advocate Health Care, Bon Secours Health System, Catholic Health Initiatives, Dignity Health, Hospital Corporation of America, Inova Health System, Kaiser Permanente, MedStar Health, Partners HealthCare, Tenet Health Systems and Vanguard Health Systems.

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