Point of View: Sustainability
Bending the Cost Curve Through Sustainability
John Messervy, Director of Capital and Facility Planning for Partners HealthCare, shared his thoughts on the Connect with Partners blog about a recent study published by The Commonwealth Fund. The study, titled "Can Sustainable Hospitals Help Bend the Health Care Cost Curve?”, found that by implementing a set of initiatives meant to reduce the impact health care has on the environment, hospitals and health care organizations are realizing positive economic, environmental, and health-related effects.
Partners' Commitment to Reducing Its Environmental Impact
By John Messervy, Director of Capital and Facility Planning for Partners HealthCare
Health care in the U.S. casts a long environmental shadow. We consume 8% of the nation’s power and generate nearly 8% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Department of Energy Information Agency. We also generate thousands of tons of regulated medical and hazardous waste each day, some of which is incinerated, releasing toxins into the air. Environmental factors are implicated in chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, and respiratory problems. This leads one to pose the question: If a hospital’s fundamental commitment is to health, don’t we have a unique obligation to be leaders in making positive environmental change?
For Partners Healthcare, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Partners is taking a leadership role in publicly committing to reduce its environmental footprint. Partners is a founding member of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a coalition of eleven of the country’s most progressive health systems, including Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), and Hospital Corporation of America.
Recently, in Washington D.C., the HHI announced its goal to recruit 2,000 hospitals to join with the sponsoring systems to reduce the environmental footprint of health care. Six challenges were identified:
- Engage leadership on environmental health and sustainability
- Reduce energy use
- Reduce waste and recycle
- Use safer chemicals
- Purchase environmentally preferable products
- Serve healthier foods and beverages
A remarkable characteristic of these challenges is that while they intend to optimize the care of our patients, the wellbeing of our employees, and conserve natural resources, they also save us money.
Partners’ hospitals are active in all the challenge areas. Most notably, Partners is well on its way to reducing energy consumption by 25% by 2014. Some specific examples at our hospitals include:
- North Shore Medical Center has adopted a single-stream waste management program.
- Massachusetts General and Newton-Wellesley Hospitals have initiated lines of healthy food choices.
- Brigham and Women’s is capturing and reprocessing chemicals used in its clinical lab.
- McLean Hospital has replaced bottled water with filtered tap water dispensers
- Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital is building a replacement hospital that is designed to operate on 42% less power than the current energy code standard.
With the personal commitment to the Healthier Hospitals Initiative from Partners CEO, Gary Gottlieb, Partners is poised to be a national leader in its response to the many environmental challenges facing health care.
John Messervy recently spoke with Plastics Today about Partners' sustainability initiatives and Partners' involvement with the Healthier Hospital Initiatives, and he shared his views on how the health care industry needs to change to reduce its impact on the environment.
Advancing Health Care: Sustainable Initiatives
Partners HealthCare has made a commitment to several systemwide sustainable initiatives to decrease our footprint on the environment.
Hear from John Messervy, Director of Capital and Facility Planning at Partners HealthCare, about some of these specific initiatives, and why Parnters has made sustainability a priority.