Hospitals should focus on sustainability for public, financial health, speakers say
By Andis Robeznieks
Published July 24, 2012
Fostering environmental sustainability isn't about "tree-huggers from the '60s"; it's about promoting community health while bolstering a hospital's financial health, according to speakers from the Healthier Hospital Initiative who spoke at a White House Council on Environmental Quality event celebrating the healthcare industry's environmental successes.
Launched in 2010, the initiative is working in some 500 hospitals to reduce the healthcare industry's $8 billion annual energy bill while promoting recycling and serving more-healthful, locally grown food. "You are the ones making this happen on the ground," said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "This administration is on your side."
The "tree-hugger" comment was made by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, CEO of Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis.; he said also that promoting environmental sustainability is part of a hospital's mission, as reducing energy use lowers costs while decreasing pollution-related health problems. He also noted that an initial $2 million investment in energy conservation has resulted in savings of $1 million a year.
"The math is pretty easy there—even for us pediatricians," Thompson said.