2024-04-22| Special

Earth Day Awareness: Hospitals Embrace Sustainability Efforts

by Bernice Lottering
Share To
Earth Day 2024: Planet vs Plastics (Image source: iStock)

As Earth Day garners increased attention towards environmental concerns, hospitals find themselves under greater scrutiny for their contribution to waste and pollution. With nurses and doctors advocating for environmentally responsible practices, hospital leaders are compelled to respond with meaningful action plans. Healthcare institutions are now allocating more time and resources to mitigate their environmental impact, acknowledging the necessity for improvement in sustainability practices.

Hospitals Embrace Sustainability Initiatives

In recent years, hospitals and health systems have intensified efforts to reduce their ecological footprint. Leaders in healthcare management emphasize the growing importance of sustainability initiatives within hospital operations, which has seen the industry become more involved in environmental stewardship. Kara Brooks, senior associate director of sustainability for the American Society for Health Care Engineering, said, “I think we’ve seen the momentum change, and hospitals are getting more and more involved.”

Similarly, other healthcare leaders note that hospitals are realizing the importance of reducing pollutants and acknowledging the detrimental impact on communities if action is not taken. Jonathan Perlin, CEO of the Joint Commission, emphasized the need for hospitals to prioritize sustainability efforts. “It really is in the context of the first adage of health care: do no harm,” says Perlin. “And as a completely inadvertent consequence of trying to do the best for individuals and society, health care, it turns out, is harming the environment.”

Here we see that medical executives have expressed optimism regarding the increasing focus on sustainability within hospital settings. The establishment of dedicated roles, such as chief sustainability officers, signifies a strategic commitment towards integrating environmental considerations into organizational decision-making processes. Approximately 41% of respondents report appointing leaders like chief sustainability officers or forming environmental teams, with an additional 24% planning to do so within the next three years, according to a January survey by the Commonwealth Fund. Furthermore, roughly three-quarters of clinicians (76%) indicate that their organizations are actively reducing waste, with 69% reporting efforts to decrease energy consumption. This shift towards sustainability not only aligns with broader societal trends but also reflects an evolving understanding of healthcare’s role in promoting planetary health.

Institutional Commitment and Employee Engagement

Sustainability efforts are becoming crucial for attracting and keeping talent in healthcare, as employees prefer employers with strong environmental policies. Hospital executives are increasingly acknowledging environmental concerns raised by both employees and governing boards, recognizing the direct link between environmental health and community well-being. To this end, it appears that employee engagement is driving sustainability initiatives within hospitals.

“I think many hospital leaders have found that as they talk with their employees, the nurses and doctors who see the ill effects of a bad environment on the population that they’re trying to serve, those executives listen to their employees, and are really engaging in part because it is so well received by the staff,” remarks Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and safety policy for the American Hospital Association.

Hospitals are realizing that environmental programs help retain employees. According to the Commonwealth Fund survey, about 79% of clinicians believe hospitals should actively address climate change. Additionally, around 62% consider a potential employer’s climate change policies when deciding to work with the organization.

Furthermore, health systems are witnessing increased involvement from executives and boards of trustees, reflecting a growing recognition of the importance of environmental initiatives. This trend is particularly noticeable in nonprofit hospitals, where boards actively advocate for sustainability efforts, aligning with their commitment to community health and quality healthcare provision.

Greening Healthcare: Transforming Sustainability into Savings

Governmental administrations have encouraged cooperation with the healthcare industry to promote sustainability, providing financial incentives for hospitals. Additionally, hospitals are seeing significant financial gains from implementing environmentally friendly practices, such as reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, and adopting eco-friendly methods. For example, Providence reported annual savings of $11 million through waste reduction, emission reduction, and energy efficiency improvements. Similarly, Dignity Health, a part of CommonSpirit Health, saved millions of dollars by switching to energy-efficient LED light bulbs. These cost-saving measures extend to other areas as well, such as using environmentally friendly anesthesia, which not only reduces emissions but also cuts costs. Overall, efforts to reduce energy usage and adopt eco-friendly practices are proving to be financially rewarding for hospitals, allowing them to redirect saved funds towards patient care.

As hospitals continue to navigate the intersection of healthcare delivery and environmental stewardship, the momentum towards sustainability initiatives underscores a collective commitment to mitigate the environmental impact of healthcare operations. With increased support from federal agencies, alongside internal efforts driven by healthcare leadership and workforce engagement, hospitals are poised to play a pivotal role in advancing environmental sustainability while maintaining quality patient care. 

© All rights reserved. Collaborate with us:
Related Post
The EU Sustainability Directive’s Influence on Pharmaceutical Supply Chains
Arab Health 2024 Sells Out as International Exhibitors Hit Record Levels
GHG Emissions as a ESG Metric
Discrimination Leads to Rapid Aging, Science Shows the Detrimental Effects of this Act
A New Study has Linked Treatment Resistant Depression to Body Mass Index
AI Reveals Sex-Related Brain Differences and Precision Medicine Potential
The EU Sustainability Directive’s Influence on Pharmaceutical Supply Chains
New UC Berkeley Study Challenges Traditional Views on Lactate and Carbohydrate Metabolism
First Person to Receive Transplanted Pig Kidney has Died
Kexing Biopharm Facility Passes EU GMP Certification for Paclitaxel for Injection (Albumin Bound)
Scroll to Top