Bon Secours Health System | Engaged Leadership


Bon Secours believes that actively engaged leadership is critical to the success of any initiative and the vitality of the organization as a whole. Engaged leadership, particularly for an organization of its size, helps promote a unified vision and unified effort to realize that vision. This is particularly important when it comes to an issue as sensitive as caring for the environment.

The Bon Secours tagline, “Good help to those in need” succinctly summarizes the mission statement. As a faith-based organization with a commitment to the “healing ministry of Jesus Christ,” diligent care of God’s creation is essential to fulfilling the ultimate mission, in fostering population health by providing a healthy planet for the communities now and for generations to come. 

Engaged leadership has helped Bon Secours attain measurable benefits that illustrate the overall commitment to quality health care and to demonstrate success.

In 2013 alone…


  • Bon Secours recycled nearly 36 percent of all waste, exceeding FY13 goals
  • Reduced regulated medical waste (RMW) to 5.35 percent exceeding FY13 goals and significantly surpassing the HHI goal of 10 percent.
  • Bon Secours facilities recycled over 24 items – some examples include medical plastics, batteries, and cooking oil.
  • The Facilities Departments approach Construction Projects differently, exercising responsible demolition to recycle as many products as possible

Energy Management:

Bon Secours has consistently exceeded goals; including BSHSI Local Systems achieved a 95 percent completion rate of targeted Low Cost/No Cost Energy Conservation Measures

  • Reductions achieved in FY 12 resulted in a 1.6 percent decrease in Greenhouse Gas Emissions attributed the generation of energy used by BSHSU facilities.
  • Despite record high summer temperatures, the system was able to reduce energy level to below target
  • Utilization reductions exceeded target of a 4 percent reduction.

The Problem

Being “green” is a popular catch-phrase, a trend that may or may not endure. Many organizations are motivated to be green for this reason alone, while others look for cash savings, and still others recognize the moral imperative of caring for the environment. While Bon Secours doesn’t dismiss either the financial or moral merits of environmental stewardship, they answer to a higher authority that commands the commitment. As part of the organizational mission, they believe it’s their charge to care for God’s creation…for today and for tomorrow.

Certainly, health care operations such as Bon Secours can have a uniquely adverse impact on the environment in that we’re dealing with medical waste, energy-intensive operations, and resource-heavy activities that can adversely affect the communities in which we serve—our very patients. These combined imperatives, along with our greater calling, means environmental stewardship is a top priority.

With more than 22,000 employees and operations in seven different states, Bon Secours recognizes the critical importance of engaged leadership to ensure the commitment is fulfilled. 


As a faith-based organization, Bon Secours has a long practice of inviting corporate leaders at multiple levels to participate in Ministry Leadership Formation course that help individuals inspire and develop their focus in fulfilling its mission. As part of a class project in 2009, the team considered environmental stewardship and its relationship to our mission to Provide Good Help to Those in Need™. 

Recognizing it was integral to their mission of promoting population health, the team developed a program proposal. Drawing on a framework provided by the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, they proposed to include environmental stewardship into the strategic plan and to promote it as elemental to the corporate culture. The proposal was enthusiastically accepted by the executive team and was refined and formally implemented soon thereafter.

Implementation Process

Environmental stewardship was not new to Bon Secours. Many of the 17 sites had programs and practices in place, yet they were fractured and uncoordinated. The first step was to establish a leadership framework that helped define a corporate vision, then identify stakeholders at the local level, and assign local leaders to help develop a unified program. Core implementation elements include:


  • Headquarters level Executive “Green Team” (steering committee) reports directly to CEO
  • Headquarters level “Energy Management Council” charged with developing and implementing program to reduce carbon footprint; reports to HQ Green Team.
  • Ten local systems level “Green Teams” administer local programs and reports to HQ Green Team


  • In 2009, the team created an Ecological Stewardship Plan, updated for 2013-2015. The plan includes the following major goals, followed by several clearly defined objectives

    • Goal 1: Expand BSHSI Ecology Visibility Internally & Externally
    • Goal 2: Conduct Evaluation Process
    • Goal 3: Build Upon Level Of Excellence In Waste, Recycling
    • Goal 4: Advance Cost-Savings Opportunities Especially Relating To Energy
    • Goal 5: Foster A Culture Of Sustainability
    • Goal 6: Identify Greening Efforts That Directly Link To Improvements In Population Health
  • In a related initiative, in 2011, the team created an independent Energy Management Plan, updated for 2013-2015, which contains very specific and measurable goals, along with incentives to achieve them.

Reporting & Reward

The success of the program relies heavily on achievable priorities, reliable measures, accountability and reward. To that end, to kick off our Sustainability Platform both the corporate and local plans included benchmarks that were tied to the Executive’s Performance Bonus.

Communications & Engagement

Top-down and bottom-up communication is vital to the system wide success. Several practices are in place to support widespread understanding of the commitment, expectations and successes: 

  • Sustainability is part of new employee orientation and ongoing staff training
  • Local systems regularly report to leadership the impact of efforts to ensure continued support and engagement.
  • Corporate HQ and local systems organize both internal community-based initiatives that recruit employee involvement
  • Green programs are included in local annual reports as well as the organizational annual report.
  • Green program reports are routinely included in employee communications, both at a corporate and local level.
  • The team share sustainability practices through leadership meetings and national and regional conferenced. 

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Bon Secours’ mission focus has minimized many of the challenges in adopting new, green practices. Even so, there have been some challenges in identifying and standardizing existing practices to generalize them throughout the organization. Strong linkages between the corporate and local Green Teams has successfully addressed this challenge.

Demographic Information

BSHSI has more than 22,000 Bon Secours employees help people in six states, primarily on the East Coast. Headquartered in Marriottsville, Maryland, our facilities include:

19 acute-care hospitals

one psychiatric hospital

five nursing care facilities

four assisted living facilities

14 home care and hospice services

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