First Do No Harm: Why Sustainable Healthcare Needs You

Brenna Davis

CSR Wire

May 16, 2014

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, health care has taken the spotlight around the globe. Our industry is being driven by a mandate for high quality care at the lowest cost.
 
At Virginia Mason, we are well positioned to thrive in this new era, having been on a path to transform health care since 2002. For instance, we were the first health care organization in the U.S. to adapt principles of the Toyota Production System to remove waste, improve quality and safety, and lower costs.
 
As a recent Talkback post by Johnson & Johnson's Joe Wolk examined, hospitals are expensive to operate – and just as taxing on the environment.
 
In fact, hospitals represent 8 percent of the total U.S. commercial energy use, health care generates millions of tons of waste each year, and global health care supply chain expenditures are about $4.2 trillion.
 
Reducing Cost, Protecting the Future
 
Think of a hospital as a small town, except that it is bustling and using energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We use eight percentHealth care supply chain of total commercial energy in the U.S. to power infrastructure that is essential to providing a safe and comfortable environment for our patients.
 
The numbers speak for themselves and at Virginia Mason, we saw the opportunity early, deciding to focus on sustainability for three main reasons: reducing human health impacts, reducing cost and protecting the natural world for future generations.
 
When our team members use alternative transportation, we reduce air pollutants that affect respiratory illness. When we conserve energy, we lower the cost of quality health care. When we reduce our carbon footprint, we protect the environment for future generations.