April 5, 2013

Healthier Hospitals initiative tackles sustainability

As part of its ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship, Kaiser Permanente has joined leading health care systems to formally launch the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, a partnership aimed at accelerating progress in health care sustainability.

Together with 10 other health care systems representing more than 500 hospitals across the country, Kaiser Permanente committed to implementing a series of strategies aimed at reducing its environmental impact and improving the health and safety of the patients, staff and communities it serves.

“Kaiser Permanente is proud to be a founding sponsor of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative,” said Kathy Gerwig, vice president of Employee Safety, Health and Wellness and environmental stewardship officer for Kaiser Permanente. “As a total health organization, we understand the crucial role that environmental health has on the well-being of our members, and we believe that we can make the greatest strides in protecting our members’ health and the health of our communities by joining with others in the health care sector to support strategies for environmental sustainability.”

Representatives from the sponsoring health care systems gathered on April 2 at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health in Washington, D.C. to pledge their commitment to implementing the HHI Challenges:

  • Engage in leadership on environmental health and sustainability
  • Serve healthier foods and beverages
  • Reduce energy use
  • Reduce waste and recycle
  • Use safer chemicals
  • Purchase environmentally preferable products

HHI expects to enlist upwards of 2,000 hospitals over the next three years to implement sustainable operations. HHI will track the progress of each hospital in addressing these challenges in order to demonstrate that such programming can make a measureable impact on the health of patients, staff and communities, while also yielding financial savings in the overall cost of care.

Three non-profit organizations working towards sustainability in the health care sector are coordinating HHI — Health Care Without HarmPractice Greenhealth and the Center for Health Design.

“This is about driving better health, before people even come through the hospital door. The Healthier Hospitals Initiative helps re-invent hospitals as community anchors for health and sustainability,” explains Gary Cohen, founder and president of Health Care Without Harm. “By demonstrating sustainability in all aspects of health care, hospitals will lead the way for other industries in reducing their environmental footprint.“