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.