The Tomah journal of Wisconsin reports that Dr. Cassandra Thiel of the University of Pittsburgh described that the key to raising the environmental sustainability of hospitals is to find ways to reuse and recycle.  “(Sustainability is) meeting the needs of today without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their needs,” Thiel said.

Thiel researched the topic for her dissertation at the University of Pittsburgh. Her team’s research measured the environmental sustainability of medical surgeries.  “We’ve looked at how much material and energy they need to perform each operation and then what all the environmental impacts are that are associated with creating those materials and burning all that energy,” Thiel said.  Her research showed that the largest factor was where the surgical materials came from.

“Unfortunately a lot of healthcare tends to be very disposable. There (are) a lot of disposable products,” Thiel said.  To become more sustainable, hospitals need to move away from the disposable mindset and find better ways to operate that still take their patients’ health into account.  “We’re trying to do good things for people’s health… But we’re saying that there’s probably a better way to do it where you’re not compromising people’s overall health, the health of the community.”

Sustainability also helps the financial health of the hospital.  “We’re basically identifying areas of waste, and where there is waste, there is potential for all kinds of savings.”

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