Healthier healthcare program grows to 837 hospitals

By Doug Smock
Published: January 27th, 2014
Plastics Today
 
The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), which was launched in 2010 by twelve hospital systems, is rapidly growing as healthcare organizations buy into the goals to boost sustainability, improve purchasing practices, and lower energy costs. "We currently have 837 hospitals enrolled, and more enrolling every week!" HHI's Sherry McDonald told Plastics Today.
 
More than one-quarter of the group's members are targeting safer chemicals. The focus on phthalate plasticizers in polyvinyl chloride has continued to expand, while a few also are questioning the safety of other plastics including polycarbonate.
 
The newest organization to support HHI is HealthTrust, a large healthcare purchasing group based in Brentwood, TN.
 
"HealthTrust has always been dedicated to ecological responsibility," said J. Michael Jones, director of Clinical Education and Sustainability. "One of the forerunners of our formal sustainability program is a longstanding commitment to the advancement of reprocessing and remanufacturing medical devices--an initiative with a significant effect on both the environmental impact and economic strength of our member facilities."
 
HHI is an offshoot of Practice Greenhealth and Healthcare Without Harm, a group started by Gary Cohen in1996 after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified medical waste incineration as the leading source of dioxin, a carcinogen. The group shifted its focus to mercury as hospital waste incineration collapsed under its own weight as economically unsustainable.
 
The mercury program was a huge win.
 
The market for mercury-based medical equipment in the United States has been virtually eliminated and mercury thermometers are banned in the European Union. A global treaty is now in place to end the manufacture, import and export of mercury-based medical devices by 2020.