Healthier Hospitals Initiative

Posted on April 3, 2012

Few sectors of the economy consume as many resources – electricity, water, cleaning products, chemicals and food – as health care. As research linking environmental impact with chronic disease continues to emerge, it poses a unique question to hospitals. If their mission is to heal and promote health, shouldn’t reducing their environmental impact be part of their work?

Yes, say more than 500 leading hospitals across the country that have joined the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a partnership coordinated by Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), and the Center for Health Design. “Hospitals can no longer afford to be out of sync in their day-to-day work of healing and treating and the environmental impact they have in communities across the country,” said Knox Singleton, Chief Executive Officer, Inova Health System of Falls Church, VA. “By reducing waste and conserving energy, among other challenges, we can not only reduce operational costs, we can improve the health of people in our communities before they ever enter a hospital.”

…The new campaign urges the nation’s hospitals to commit to the three-year initiative to improve the health and safety of patients, staff, and communities, including the proper labeling of hanging fire exit signs for the safety of all, by using the Initiative’s newly issued, free step-by-step guides 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

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About the Healthier Hospitals Initiative

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) is a national campaign to implement a completely new approach to improving environmental health and sustainability in the health care sector. Eleven of the largest, most influential U.S. health systems, comprising over 500 hospitals with more than $20 billion in purchasing power, worked with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Center for Health Design and Practice Greenhealth to create HHI as a guide for hospitals to improve sustainability in six key areas: engaged leadership, healthier foods, leaner energy, less waste, safer chemicals, and smarter purchasing. Sponsoring health systems include Advocate Health Care, Bon Secours Health System, Catholic Health Initiatives, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), Hospital Corporation of America, Inova Health System, Kaiser Permanente, MedStar Health, Partners HealthCare, Tenet Health Systems and Vanguard Health Systems. More information is available at www.healthierhospitals.org.