RESTON, Va. — The Healthier Hospitals Initiative recently released its 2013 Milestone Report, which shows that more leading hospitals are adopting innovative sustainability practices to reduce their environmental footprint, lower costs and improve the health of patients and staff. Launched in April 2012, HHI is a national campaign to promote a more sustainable business model for healthcare while addressing the health and environmental impacts of the industry.
“Hospitals nationwide are transforming their purchasing practices to avoid toxic chemicals, buy healthier food and beverages and become energy efficient and less wasteful,” said Gary Cohen, president of HCWH and founder of HHI. “This report shows that clear trends have emerged and innovative hospitals are implementing strategies to reduce costs, improve their environmental performance and support broader environmental health goals.”
The report summarizes HHI’s second year of progress with more than 630 HHI enrollees—hospitals big and small, rural and urban—submitting data that quantified their sustainability efforts. The HHI campaign nationally has reached more than 1,000 total enrollees in 2014.
- Figures show big trends around local, sustainable food and healthier beverages as more hospitals commit to modeling healthy behavior and reducing diet-related, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. By creating healthier menus, buying from local farmers, reducing the amount of meat served and procuring more fair trade and certified organic products, leading hospitals made substantial progress.
- The majority reported spending more than 15 percent of their food budget on local and sustainable food, with an average of $23.7 million spent in 2013. These figures represent an increase of more than 350 percent in local/sustainable spending from the previous year.
- The purchase of sugar-sweetened beverages decreased, with more than 65 percent reporting an increase in the purchase of healthier alternatives. Beverage purchases totaled $54.2 million, with $41.6 million spent (77 percent) on healthy beverages.
Additional report highlights include:
- The percentage of hospitals purchasing PVC/DEHP-free products increased by 60 percent. These facilities reported spending $62,840,560 on PVC/DEHP-free products in 2013, more than 40 percent of the total spent on these products in 2012. PVC/DEHP is commonly used in medical devices, such as IV bags and tubing. Concern over its health impacts has grown in recent years, as scientific studies have linked PVC/DEHP to reproductive birth defects and other illnesses.
- The number of hospitals demanding that upholstered furnishings do not contain toxic flame retardants or other unsafe chemicals are on the rise. A total of $688,654 was spent on compound-free furnishings in 2013, which accounts for a 20 percent increase from 2012. Chemicals used as flame retardants have been linked to reproductive problems, developmental delays and cancer, among other health problems.
- Hospitals continued to move away from disposing of medical devices after one use. More than $45 million was saved as a result of single-use medical device reprocessing, a 33 percent increase in 2012.
- More than 121,000 tons of materials recycled, plus an additional 29,200 tons of construction and demolition waste kept out of landfills through reuse and recycling.
The data in the report was collected from more than 630 HHI-member hospitals in six key challenge areas: engaged leadership, healthier food, leaner energy, less waste, safer chemicals and smarter purchasing. Each HHI member has committed to improve the health and safety of patients, staff and communities by implementing at least one of the challenges.
“This report shows that we have made significant progress, but our work is not done,” said John Messervy, AIA, chair of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and director of capital and facility planning for Partners HealthCare. “As we move into the third year of the initiative, we will continue encouraging hospitals to purchase more environmentally preferable supplies, serve healthier foods, use less energy and reduce waste.”
To learn more about the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, or to download a copy of the full report, visit www.HealthierHospitals.org.