Hospital Initiative Urges Development of Safer Interior Furnishings

Hospitals Want Safe Environment for Patients and Staff as Chicago Tribune Exposé Questions Effectiveness and Safety of Chemical Ingredients

Washington, D.C.— The 11  major U.S. hospital systems that form the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) have sent letters to scores of manufacturers urging them to accelerate the development of products that do not contain halogenated flame retardants. HHI’s 11 hospital systems represent 500 hospitals and more than $20 billion in health care purchasing power.

In the letters, the HHI hospital system representatives incentivized the development of HFR-free products, pledging, “As products that meet these requirements are developed, our commitment to the HHI Challenges means our organizations will purchase these safer affordable alternatives.”

“The letters to the manufacturers represent the type of work that the HHI sponsoring systems envisioned when they founded the initiative,” stated John Messervy, AIA, director of capital and facility planning for Partners Healthcare and chair of HHI.  “HHI believes that by working collectively, and aggregating our hospital market share toward safer products, we can rapidly transform the health care sector toward sustainability with resulting improvements in public health.”

Already of concern to the environmental community, halogenated flame retardant chemicals came under additional scrutiny after a recent in-depth Chicago Tribune series highlighted concerns about the safety and efficacy of flame retardants currently approved for use.  The series caught the attention of hospitals, many of which are already working to eliminate potentially unsafe chemicals of concern from the health care environment.

“Hospitals see people at vulnerable periods in their lives, and we are committed to providing the safest possible environment for our patients, employees, visitors, and the communities that we serve,” wrote Albert L. Manshum III, AIA, Vice President, Facilities & Construction, Advocate Health Care, and 10 other HHI hospital system representatives in the letters to manufacturers.  “We are committed to moving the health care supply chain to offer the highest performing, most cost-effective, safest products possible that do not expose our employees, patients, and communities to toxic chemicals.”

HHI is a sector-wide campaign that seeks to embed environmental health and sustainability into the core strategy of health care.  Its 11 sponsoring institutions are dedicated to moving the health care sector toward greater sustainability by committing to improvements in six areas of hospital operations (called the HHI Challenges). HHI recently asked other hospitals across the nation to commit to improvements in the challenge areas. One of the challenges, the “Safer Chemicals Challenge,” calls for the elimination of halogenated flame retardants and other chemicals of concern in health care interior furnishings.

Health Care Without Harm, one of the NGO co-sponsors of HHI, also sent letters to hospital furnishing manufacturers asking them to commit to manufacturers to endorse the Guiding Principles for safer chemicals and sustainable materials developed by the Business-NGO Working Group (BizNGO). BizNGO is a unique collaboration of leaders in business and non-governmental organizations who are creating a roadmap to the widespread use of safer chemicals and sustainable materials to the economy.  HCWH will make available a list of manufacturers that endorse the Principles at a later date.

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About the Healthier Hospitals Initiative

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) is a national campaign to implement a completely new approach to improving environmental health and sustainability in the health care sector.  Eleven of the largest, most influential U.S. health systems, comprising over 500 hospitals with more than $20 billion in purchasing power, worked with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Center for Health Design, and Practice Greenhealth to create HHI as a guide for hospitals to improve sustainability in six key areas: engaged leadership, healthier foods, leaner energy, less waste, safer chemicals, and smarter purchasing.  Sponsoring health systems include Advocate Health Care, Bon Secours Health System, Catholic Health Initiatives, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), Hospital Corporation of America, Inova Health System, Kaiser Permanente, MedStar Health, Partners HealthCare, Tenet Health Systems, and Vanguard Health Systems.  More information is available at  Follow HHI on Twitter at @HHIorg and on Facebook at

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