Earth Day (April 22) is an annual reminder to recognize the importance of our planet Earth, not just on Earth Day but every day. Hospitals have gotten on board with the environmental movement as they make changes in sustainable buildings, new waste deposal norms, and healthier meals for patients. Here’s what’s up with greening the healthcare world.
- New York City’s public hospital system is cutting edge with its commitment to vegan meals. The largest municipal hospital system in the country, New York’s 11 public hospitals began serving plant-based lunches as the default choice in April 2022.
- In January 2023, it began serving vegan dinners, too—meals inspired by culinary flavors from around the globe. Patients can still choose a meat and dairy-based meal, but more than 50% of patients are choosing plant-based.
- The goal is to put patients on the path to better health but what’s good for patients is also good for the planet. Raising meat requires more irrigation and cropland while also producing the most greenhouse gases of any crop. Other hospital systems are trying out sustainable meal programs, too.
Efficient power systems
- In its push to be carbon neutral by 2030, Boston Medical Center has installed a co-generation plant to produce electricity for the hospital campus. That means the hospital doesn’t have to buy as much power from outside power suppliers, and the co-gen plant makes the electric and heat system much more efficient (70% compared to 35% at a traditional power plant).
- Importantly, the co-gen plant can still run if a storm like Hurricane Sandy cuts all power, which allows the hospital to keep treating patients during a blackout. Check out what else BMC has going on.
Reducing waste in the operating room
- Operating rooms contribute a lot of waste to landfills. Practice Greenhealth, a sustainability initiative that partners with hospitals, recognized Providence Portland Medical Hospital in Portland, Oregon, for its leadership in “greening” its operating rooms.
- Many others are also eager to reduce OR waste, and there were plenty of recognition awards. Reducing waste includes putting waste in the proper bins, creating recycling programs, and using fewer disposable supplies.
These are just three areas in which hospitals are getting creative with environmental excellence. They’re making strides in sourcing food locally, investing in clean energy, repurposing surgical blue wrap plastic, collecting unused medications, and conserving water. Check out this list of 2022 GreenHealth environmental winners to learn more.
If hospital sustainability efforts have you inspired to consider a nursing career, St. Paul’s School of Nursing is here to help. Learn about our Associate Degree in Nursing program and give us a call at (855) 822-3018 to speak to one of our admissions advisors or to schedule a campus tour.