Ascension Champions Environmental Stewardship in Healthcare
As healthcare organizations strive to serve their communities with greater quality and at lower costs, Ascension is helping lead the way by incorporating environmental stewardship into operations.
The economic benefit of environmental stewardship allows money previously spent on energy and waste management, for example, to instead be directed to our Mission of providing healthcare services to all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. Even as Ascension has grown over the past three years, it has reduced its environmental impact through better management and reduced resource use in nine categories of environmental stewardship.
To share information about its success, Ascension participated in a one-hour online educational session on environmental stewardship offered by the Catholic Health Association of the United States. The session on August 19, 2014 included two Ascension environmental stewardship leaders: Eric Buzzell, vice president, general services and property management for Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Lois Sechrist, LEED AP ID+C, senior analyst, Facilities Resource Group, Ascension Health.
They provided examples of how the Ascension Environmental Stewardship Program, established in 2011, provides a framework for its hospitals and Health Ministries to demonstrate cost savings, reduce the carbon footprint of the organization, and improve health outcomes for patients, visitors, staff and the communities they serve.
The framework includes:
Themes from Catholic Social Teaching that apply to the Church’s concern for the environment.
The “triple bottom line” — the ecological, social and financial benefits of green practices.
The “triple aim” — to provide better patient care, improve population health and reduce costs.
The presentation focused on case studies from the Health Ministries, including:
Energy-efficiency programs at Saint Thomas Health in Nashville, Tennessee, that have reduced energy use intensity per square foot by 27 percent in four years.
Medical waste management at Borgess Medical Center that has resulted in four tons of landfill waste being diverted and $250,000 in cost savings.
A hospital-wide composting program at Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital in Binghamton, New York, which has reduced solid waste costs by 45 percent and provides animal food to low-income farmers in the region.
System-wide reduction in the use of bottled beverages, following a social justice program established by the Daughters of Charity.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Healthcare certification by Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas in Austin and St. Vincent Fishers Hospital in Indiana.
Published October 2014