Leverage with Leadership

By Janet Brown, EDAC Director of Facility Engagement on March 19, 2012

Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harm, and The Center for Health Design have joined with many of the largest hospital systems in the nation to launch the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a three-year, coordinated effort to drive and measure environmental interventions in health care. The ultimate goal of HHI is to incorporate sustainability as an integral part of the health care delivery model by demonstrating positive financial and environmental outcomes.

Advocate Health Care, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), HCA Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Partners Health Care Systems, Inc., Inova Health System, and MedStar Health are the founding sponsors of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. Along with the other sponsoring health systems (see page 26), they have developed the standardized areas of measurement based on proven success and provided the foundation to enable any hospital in the United States to participate in the initiative, at no charge to them. Now that’s commitment!

Mainstreaming of Sustainability

It’s no coincidence that the furthest reaching facilities have firm leadership engagement, synergy with strategy and an established structure to support continuous environmental improvement. Using a lens of healthy environments, leaders see vast opportunities around better building, procurement, food systems, site selection, transportation, and sustainable operations.

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative is based on the premise that a coordinated sector-wide approach to how the sector builds and operates hospitals can create extraordinary environmental benefits and save billions of dollars. The Initiative utilizes evidence-based design and research data on environmental sustainability and community health to outline a prioritized roadmap. It is a method for moving from good ideas implemented by individual facilities to a comprehensive system and sector-wide adoption of sustainable practices and cost reduction. The mass-movement will drive the marketplace and the sector to position health care facilities as the anchors of health in their communities.

So how is HHI different than Practice Greenhealth? The specific activities that make up “greening”—strategy, team building, policy development, data collection, and program implementation—will continue to flourish within the Practice Greenhealth membership community. HHI is a three-year initiative designed to reach further into the sector, beyond Practice Greenhealth’s current members and provide the guidance and support to implement and measure specific strategies. Practice Greenhealth members are urged to participate in HHI to be part of the groundswell and movement that the initiative seeks. The Practice Greenhealth members have paved the way for HHI and their work to date demonstrated win-win strategies that have been tested sufficiently to roll out to the sector in a coordinated fashion.

“In my role as a leader and mentor I’m continually learning from those I work with no matter where they are on their sustainability journey.”

—Mike Geller
Manager, Regional Sustainability
Providence Health & Services, Oregon

The following are the proven interventions that hospitals can “sign on” to for participation at no charge. There’s no limit to level of participation. Many Practice Greenhealth members will have already met some of the goals. Data can be collected for established areas of success and new challenges can be addressed within the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. This will engage all hospitals, wherever they fall on the greening spectrum and regardless of size or budget. Several specific goals and metrics have been developed for each of the following areas:

  • Leaner Energy
  • Less Waste
  • Smarter Purchasing
  • Safer Chemicals
  • Healthier Foods
  • Leadership and Culture

Program Development and Kick-off

Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth staff are finalizing the metrics and “how-to” implementation guides for each area of focus. Case studies and a new website are under development, gearing up for the exciting launch and press briefing, scheduled for April 3, 2012, in Washington, D.C.

The HHI Learning Community

Practice Greenhealth is kicking off the Hospital Mentor Program for Practice Greenhealth members to apply to “mentor” on a specific HHI intervention or one of the several “Practice Greenhealth membership-only” interventions. Mentors must be Practice Greenhealth members. Through case studies, sharing calls, forums, and more, the Mentor Hospital Program will be one of the methods to implement the proven strategies for the HHI and to further expand into other topics within the Practice Greenhealth community. This is an opportunity for Practice Greenhealth members to shine in their area of success—whether it is red bag reduction, mercury elimination, healthier food, safer materials, or other areas. The Mentor Program will further connect members with each other and increase learning opportunities and information sharing. Mentors can apply at www.practicegreenhealth.org/mentor.

“One of Practice Greenhealth’s greatest gifts to its members is access to each other,” says Janet Brown, Practice Greenhealth’s director of facility engagement. “The Practice Greenhealth membership community is a place where we’re all teachers, and we’re all students. The Mentor Program will increase the number of voices in the community.”

“Practice Greenhealth is very pleased to support the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. The efforts of HHI will demonstrate the environmental and financial benefits to improved environmental performance and Practice Greenhealth members have an additional opportunity to shine. The combined purchasing power will further markets for environmentally superior products at cost-competitive prices.”

—Laura Wenger, RN
Executive Director, Practice Greenhealth

Health Care Systems Participating
Individual Mentor Program Benefits

  • Recognition in the Community as a Topic Expert
  • Certificate of Participation
  • Spotlight in Practice Greenhealth website and Greenhealth Magazine
  • Identification as Content Expert for Media Inquiries
  • Much more information will come soon. In the meantime, reach out to info@healthierhospitals.org for questions or requests for more information.

Learn More and Get Involved

Healthier Hospitals Initiative

Practice Greenhealth Mentor Hospital Program