Partners HealthCare | McLean Hospital Filtered Water Program


The adoption of a plumbed-in filtered water system into McLean Hospital has resulted in the elimination of plastic bottles.

  • In the inpatient areas alone: The FY08 baseline water per patient day expense was $0.97. By FY2011, patient per day expense was reduced to $.02. Annual recurring savings estimated at $38K (comparing FY08 to subsequent years)
  • Reduced waste: plastic waste, and wasted time & effort (ordering, delivering, stocking), storage space and expense

The Problem

The Team:

  • Director of Administrative Services
  • Director of Operations Improvement
  • Director of Facilities
  • Staff support

Four issues:

  • Expense: FY08 bottled water expense was $59,708. Of this, $43,650 was in inpatient areas alone.
  • Waste: Unfinished 8 ounce bottles and opened gallon jugs. Total quantities up to 45,000 bottles.
  • Clutter: Individual-sized plastic bottles cluttering patient areas. Storage issues.
  • Time and expense: Unit staff placed orders, counted received items, food vendor ordered and delivered water daily as requested.
  • Green concerns: Plastic bottles have a negative impact on the environment.

The Strategy Selected

Purchasing selected Poland Springs to provide water filtration devices and services that taps into existing water supplies and offers both hot and cold options. No set-up fee. Filtration system rental fee: about $20/month per filtration system unit. Rental fee includes annual filter replacement

Implementation Process

  • Identified inpatient areas with highest usage. 53% of bottled water (≤24,000 bottles) was consumed by one inpatient unit
  • Facilities began Installation in high-use patient areas in July 2008, then rolled out to other inpatient units, then to non-patient care areas
  • Removed bottled water from inpatient “floor stock” order forms
  • Analyzed water usage by tracking floor stock expenses over time
  • Switched from floor stock to par system where vendor delivers quantity and type of items on list for each unit.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

  • Positive feedback (via survey): “Patients and staff are completely satisfied with the new water filtration system.” “Water is readily available and cold.” “We no longer have plastic bottles all over the unit.”
  • Reduces risk of injury related to heavy lifting (cases of water). Positive for employees.
  • Reduces plastic bottle waste.

Demographic information

Partners HealthCare consists of 15 principal facilities in Boston and eastern Massachusetts providing acute inpatient care, ambulatory care and rehabilitation with a total of approximately 3,300 beds. Including administration, the total built assets amount to 16 million square feet, of which approximately 10 million SF is owned and 6 million SF leased.

McLean Hospital is the principal psychiatric facility in the system. It supports 177 inpatient beds in buildings totaling 623,754 square feet in a suburban campus setting.

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