Boston Globe reports that, More than 40 hospitals in Massachusetts, including all 10 in the Partners HealthCare system, and 900 hospitals nationwide have joined a healthier hospitals initiative, launched in 2012. “Hospitals have healing as their core value, yet they unwittingly contribute to chronic disease in our society by selling junk food, being enormous users of toxic chemicals and energy resources, and generating a ton of waste,” said Gary Cohen, president of the nonprofit group Health Care Without Harm that organized the initiative.
The health care system will also see fiscal improvements from hospitals that practice conservation: A 2012 study by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit health care research organization, calculated that the nation’s medical care costs would be reduced by $15 billion over 10 years if all hospitals switched to energy-efficient systems; reprocessed and reused operating room supplies; and reduced medical waste through more recycling. The study — which based its projections on changes made by Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and 16 other hospitals nationwide — challenges the assumption that the high upfront costs will cancel out any savings, Messervy, of Partners HealthCare, said.
In developing the healthier hospitals initiative, Cohen said he believes it’s the larger mission of hospitals to lead the way toward sustainability. “We started with hospitals, but we’re hoping this idea will spread to other institutions.”
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