UMHS Named Practice Greenhealth’s “Partner for Change”

June 1, 2016  //  FOUND IN: News,

UMHS recently received the 2016 “Greenhealth Partner for Change” Award from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading healthcare community dedicated to transforming healthcare worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability, and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. The award is one of the organization’s Environmental Excellence Awards given each year to honor outstanding environmental achievements in the healthcare sector.

The Greenhealth Partner for Change Award recognizes healthcare facilities that continuously improve and expand upon their mercury elimination, waste reduction, and recycling and source reduction programs. At a minimum, facilities applying for this award must be recycling 15 percent of their total waste, must have reduced regulated medical waste, must be well along the way to mercury elimination, and must have developed other successful pollution prevention programs in many different areas. 

UMHS Highlights:

  • Recycling: Of the standard items that Practice Greenhealth counts toward recycling totals, UMHS had an 11% recycling weight increase over the previous year.
  • Water: We scored well with water consumption (as measured in gallons used per building square footage). UMHS = 36.58 with a Practice Greenhealth member median of 42.9. On May 12, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers began implementing a different linen schedule to conserve water and improve our environmental footprint. Patient linens will be changed four days a week unless otherwise requested from patients and families.
  • Energy: Last October, the Regents approved two energy efficiency upgrades to University Hospital. A $3 million project for new occupancy sensors and a $1.3 million project for an air handler upgrade.
  • Chemicals: Much work has been done toward replacing hazardous chemical with safer alternatives. Examples include, cleaning chemicals and the switch from glutaraldehyde to OPA, as well as a switch to lab equipment that use less solvents. Glutaraldehyde use has been eliminated in 37 of 71 departments. Environmental Services and Infection Prevention piloted a different sporicidal disinfectant, Oxycide (from Ecolab), in August of 2015. The results of the pilot were positive; it effectively disinfected without the same destructive/corrosive properties of bleach. Moreover, it removed a lot of the built up bleach residue and made fixtures look much better.
  • Greening the OR: We are moving toward “low flow” anesthesia delivery. This will lessen waste gas by as much as 50%. Our net savings this year has been $1,100 at the East Ann Arbor Surgery Center. Plastic recycling in the ORs increased 23% over the previous year, and we used nearly 10% more reprocessed items, by weight, over the previous year.
  • Food: In our retail areas, all meat and poultry is non-therapeutic antibiotic free. Patient and Family Nutrition Services uses chicken that is antibiotic free. In a new trial program in the Children and Women’s kitchen, 33,280 lbs. of pre-consumer food waste were composted during CY 2015.

This marks 13 consecutive years that UMHS has been recognized as a leader in environmental stewardship by Practice Greenhealth.

“As a Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change Award winner, UMHS is committed to improving the health of our patients, staff, and community as a whole,” said Tony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “We take pride in our sustainability efforts to lessen our impact on the environment.”