April 20, 2012

Earth Day roundup of recent environmental stewardship work

The people of Kaiser Permanente have been busy with a myriad of projects that are helping to “green” our care delivery system and lead the way in sustainability. In honor of Earth Day on April 22 — and in celebration of environmental stewardship at Kaiser Permanente — here is a round-up of some of recent success stories and initiatives that are underway.

Conversion to eco-friendly IV supplies

Thanks to persistent efforts by our Procurement & Supply teams, Kaiser Permanente announced in January that it is converting its IV medical equipment to more eco-friendly alternatives by purchasing IV solution bags that are 100 percent PVC- and DEHP-free and intravenous tubing that is 100 percent free of DEHP.

Adding momentum to the sustainable food movement

At Kaiser Permanente, we continue our efforts to source more sustainable food. Last October, Kaiser Permanente sponsored the second annual Food for Health Forum in San Francisco.

The Forum brought together physicians, health care leaders, and sustainable food experts — including local farmers and acclaimed journalist Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation — to galvanize a growing healthy food movement within health care. Learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s leadership in sustainable food.

Setting a goal to reduce our carbon footprint

In February, Kaiser Permanente announced an ambitious plan to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020, compared to its 2008 levels. The strategy includes plans to invest in clean and renewable energy sources while also targeting energy conservation measures.

Reprocessing or recycling single-use medical devices

Single-use medical devices are costly and can add tremendously to medical waste. By safely sterilizing and remanufacturing some of these devices, they can be used more than once, thereby conserving resources and diverting trash from landfills.

In 2011, Kaiser Permanente increased its use of reprocessed medical devices by 4 percent compared to 2010, and diverted approximately 346,000 pounds of single-use medical devices from landfill. The overall medical-device recycling program saved the organization $8.2 million in purchasing and waste disposal costs throughout the year.

Collaborating with others to green the health care sector

On April 3, Kaiser Permanente stood with six other hospital systems to pledge to support a series of aggressive measures for a more safe and sustainable hospital system.

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative is based on the premise that a coordinated sector-wide approach to how we design, build, and operate hospitals can improve patient outcomes and workplace safety, prevent illnesses, create extraordinary environmental benefits, and save billions of dollars. Kaiser Permanente is proud to partner with other hospital systems to move the HHI agenda to the next level.

Building healthier environments in the community

Kaiser Permanente recognizes that healthy environments make for healthy communities. And healthy communities help all of us to be healthier people. Through our Community Benefit work and our investments in total health, Kaiser Permanente seeks to influence policies and environmental changes that promote health in the places where people live, work and play.

From creating healthier corner stores stocked with fresh produce to building biking and walking paths for safe recreation, Kaiser Permanente supports making the healthy choice the easy choice in communities around the country. Learn more about Community Health Initiatives at the Community Benefit website.