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Healthy Health Care Leader – Kaiser Permanente

2009 October 15

One of my closest friends, Stephanie Davis, did pioneering work in the early days of green health care. As she battled cancer, we often laughed and cried about the unhealthy hospitals and medical practices she endured.

So I really appreciate Kaiser Permanente’s recognition that healthy communities and a healthy environment are critical to the health and wellness. Kaiser Permanente received an EPA Pacific Southwest Environmental Award for their green ways. Here are a few examples, Kaiser –

  • Recycled 100% (WOW –- 100%!) of the building materials generated during the demolition of two warehouses in San Leandro, California.
  • Opened a green medical center in Modesto, California, with solar panels, energy-conserving technology, permeable pavement, and safer materials.
  • Hosted 28 farmers markets at facilities in six states, delivered produce “farm boxes” to employees without close access to farmers markets, and served milk from cows not treated with artificial hormones.
  • Resold and recycled 74,000 pieces of electronic equipment and ensured that no hazardous e-waste was exported outside of the U.S.
  • Used 107,143 gallons of water per bed per year in California hospitals — 40% less than the average hospital water consumption nationally.
  • Telemonitored heart patients remotely to improve the quality of care and reduce car trips.

Kaiser Permanente has also worked on changing employee behavior. Their “Reduce Your Use” campaign that encouraged employees to reduce waste by providing tips on ways to be more environmentally responsible with specific participation goals. The campaign resulted in employee pledges that eliminated the use of over 240,000 sheets of paper and 20,000 disposable bags.

Kaiser is definitely leading the way on greening heath care. I wish Stephanie was able to see the great progress Kaiser has made to improve the health of the health care system. Do you have green health care ideas you’d like to share?

About the author: Timonie Hood has worked on EPA Region 9’s Resource Conservation Team promoting waste reduction, recycling, and green building for 10 years in EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Johnny R. permalink
    October 16, 2009

    Doctors and hospitals are obliged to deal with the symptoms their patients present for treatment. Instead, if every person practiced a self-educating healthy lifestyle they would hardly ever need medical attention. But today the situation is exactly the opposite. Advertising lures people to indulge their appetites that cause disease, then offers risky medicines to releave the symptoms, never mind the underlying causes — all for huge profits. Call it social insanity.

  2. Jackenson Durand permalink
    October 16, 2009

    That would be a great example for new healthcare generations’ professionals.
    This profession should be more compassionate than paychecks accumulations.
    Volunteerism should be never stopping living in an individual life even, in the case of any life modification situation.
    “This is in the critical time that we need best hands”.
    Helping people for the rest of a life style should be dedicated indestructible in life course.

  3. Kathy Eliason permalink
    October 25, 2009

    I would really like our hospital in Richmond Ca. Kaiser to recycle the surgical wrappers. it is such a waste to see the trash full of this nice product. I know it could be better used else were. I have other articals on recycling this product but before I look further into this I just needed to know if other Kaisers already do it and who do they call to pick up the wrappers. My old job use to recycle them unisource our vendor would pick up the used wroppers. Can you help me out.

    Kathy

  4. Sharron permalink
    November 5, 2009

    As a practitioner of Oriental Medicine and other wellness modalities for over 30 years LumaSun, I have witnessed over the years the difference preventative care can make in the life and wellness of hundreds of people. I have found it quiet astonishing that with all the knowledge that exists today about the impact of preventative care, we do not see more action from the government in the education of the public on this subject. Education needs to start at school and expand from there to the general public. It is my humble opinion and quiet frankly a well known fact that if humans would just drink more clean water, many of the symptoms we suffer from today would simply go away. On average we need to drink one half of our body weight in ounces per day of clean water. How many of us are drinking even half of that? and how many are aware of this fact? Just this little bit of knowledge and action taken by people could save many lives and greatly reduce health care costs.
    No good healthcare reform can be complete without the critical attention to preventative care.

  5. Kate DuBois permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Timonie, first of all, I’m so sorry that you lost your friend Stephanie. What a huge loss. And what a gift to know that Kaiser has acted on her legacy. Makes me want to switch insurance companies.

    You asked about green healthcare ideas. One of my favorites is simply reminding people that the best green healthcare practices start with taking better care of themselves. If people invested in greening their own health the way Kaiser has in their green recycling and water conservation, imagine the world we could live in.

    A book I recommend to help create a new healthcare model is Bend the Health Care Trend by Mark Guarya and Jill Borislow. There are some great tips on how to create a consumer driven healthcare plan (CDHP) either personally or within an organization that focuses on transparency, accountability, and responsibility, all factors that help support the green healthcare movement.

    Best wishes,

    Kate DuBois

  6. Erika permalink
    April 7, 2010

    Hi. I work for a fairly large medical center in St Louis. We are interested in recyling our surgical wrapppers. Can anyone steer me in the right direction to get that started? Thanks!

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