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Green Teams Driving Change in Healthcare

blogpicOver the past several years, the healthcare industry has made great progress toward the greening of facilities and operations with the advent of organizations such as GGHC (Green Guide to Healthcare), Healthcare Without Harm, and Practice Greenhealth. These organizations complement each other to offer comprehensive resources and services that support healthcare organizations in their effort to go green.

Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading membership and networking organization for institutions in the healthcare community that have made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices.” I recently attended their webinar: Getting Started With Practice Greenhealth.

Of particular interest to me was learning about the important role that green teams play in the greening of the healthcare industry. In fact, Practice Greenhealth recommends multi-disciplinary green teams as the cornerstone of their program to impact systemic change in the complicated field of healthcare.

Similar to the origins of green teams in other industries and institutions, members are spurred by their passion to create positive environmental change in their workplace. Green team members represent all organizational disciplines, they create and monitor measurable goals, seek leadership support, communicate effectively and award success. Hospital green teams may include staff from administration, nursing, facilities, food services, marketing, environmental services, and the like. Goals may focus on the elimination of mercury, waste reduction or serving healthier foods.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Green Team provides an excellent example of what a successful hospital green team can accomplish. The team was formed in January 2008 as a grassroots/voluntary effort. Their 2009 goals and objectives include:

• Reduce environmental waste;

• Establish a campus-wide recycling program for paper, plastic, glass and aluminum;

• Recycle items such as eyeglasses, cell phones, toner cartridges, and durable medical equipment;

• Purchase and use environmentally preferred (green) products;

• Educate the community at large about sustainability in our culture;

• Lessen use of energy and water resources where and when possible.

The greening of healthcare has gained a great deal of traction in a few short years. There is no doubt that this effort began at the grass-roots level and it is this same spirit that will continue to drive these efforts forward toward a sustainable future. I welcome your comments.

Do you know of any green teams in the workplace? If so, please let me know and I may feature it in a future blog posting.

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4 Responses to “Green Teams Driving Change in Healthcare”

  1. dani says:

    Comments?

  2. PAUL FEINER says:

    THank you for this post. Today I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony of Regeneron, a bio tech company. The company showed us some of their green initiatives- green roof, and other green initiatives for employees.

  3. Our organization has been a leader in electronic medical record (EMR) development. We have used an EMR for 11 years,and in addition to its many advantages in terms of the organization of care, we have cut down tremendously on paper use. Lab results come in via the computer, prescriptions are ordered through the computer, there are no longer any paper charts, etc. There are many areas however where change is needed. We have a lot of solid waste, for example plastic speculums and paper gowns.
    I really appreciate the suggestion of forming a “green team” to look carefully at what can and should be changed in our daily practices. This is very exciting work and a great website!

  4. Liz Winson says:

    Although the medical facility where I work is paperless, I see so many other areas where we can be greener, beginning with the simple task of recycling. I look forward to passing on this website and the information offered to our corporate headquarters.