CEO Report: Environmental Stewardship
Posted on October 01, 2018
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” – William Shakespeare
Last week I had the opportunity to visit several member hospitals in the Upper Peninsula and was once again amazed by the beauty and significance of our state’s natural resources. Although the focus of our trip was on a host of important issues confronting Michigan healthcare, I was reminded of the impact that hospitals and health systems can have on the wellness of their communities through their energy footprint.
As I often point out in presentations to nonhealthcare audiences, hospitals often utilize more energy than the largest factory in town, serve more meals than the largest restaurant, do more laundry than the largest hotel, and so forth. Given the sheer size and scale of hospitals and their standing as major employers in their communities, their energy utilization can be significant. Hence as healthcare leaders, we have an obligation to lead by example with our environmental stewardship.
Conserving energy, reducing waste and offering healthier and locally sourced food are among the ways hospitals can make a significant difference on their local environment – and contribute to improved community health status. And at a time when we’re all focused on cost containment given funding constraints, these efforts can impact the financial well-being of the hospital, as well. In short, our stewardship is a perfect match with our “quadruple aim” goals.
As it turns out, the MHA has a strong track record of supporting sustainability through our work with the Michigan Green Healthcare Committee. Staffed by the MHA’s Kristen Cavanagh-Strong, this committee has convened a group of energetic and committed sustainability leaders from Michigan hospitals, health systems and partner organizations for many years. Our past accomplishments include:
- Receiving a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency award for our leadership of a successful statewide mercury thermometer exchange program during the early 2000s.
- Leading the successful Smoke-free Hospital Campus Campaign in 2007 that resulted in voluntary adoption of smoking bans in public areas across all Michigan hospitals.
- Being among the first hospital associations in the country to voluntarily model healthy food environments in hospitals statewide through the successful Healthy Food Hospitals Campaign.
- Creating Michigan on the Menu, a joint venture with Cultivate Michigan where participating facilities commit to featuring a local (Michigan) item on their menu each month.
- Encouraging participation in Michigan Battle of the Buildings, a free energy-reduction competition that identifies energy efficient practices and improves the environmental footprint of healthcare facilities. A record number of Michigan hospitals participated in the 2017 program.
To support the efforts of the Green Committee and spotlight best practices in Michigan and beyond, the MHA will be hosting our annual Michigan Green Healthcare Conference next week, Oct. 9 & 10, at the Grand Valley State University Eberhard Center, Grand Rapids.
At this event, we will take a deeper dive into the positive impacts that Michigan hospitals and other healthcare organizations make by encouraging sustainability in healthcare. By learning from our recent success, we can continue our path toward environmental sustainability. I hope you will encourage the leaders at the forefront of green healthcare in your hospital or health system to attend. The registration deadline is this Friday, Oct. 5.
As major, visible organizations in our respective communities, we have an obligation to lead by example. This is one way to do exactly that. As always, I welcome your thoughts.
Posted in: MHA Rounds