Partners HealthCare Sustainable Initiatives
Partners Healthcare is a system of 17 hospitals in eastern Massachusetts consisting of the two flagship teaching hospitals, Massachusetts General and Brigham and Womens, as well as McLean psychiatric hospital, the Spaulding Rehabilitation network, other hospital affiliates north, south and west of Boston and 21 community health centers. Altogether the facilities (including administrative offices) amount to 16.5 million square feet of owned and leased space. Partners is the largest private employer in the state with over 54,000 employees supporting more than 4 million outpatients visits and 150,000 inpatient stays per year. Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals are the two top independent hospitals in the country for receiving National Institute of Health research grants. Considering the scale of the organization it is clear that Partners (in common with other hospital systems) should be making a major effort to reduce our environmental impact and to avoid contributing to the health problems of the patients we are treating.
Partners launched a Sustainable Initiatives program in the Fall of 2008. The goal of the SI program is to pursue the ‘triple bottom line’ of “promoting a healthy environment, optimizing the care of our patients and the well-being of our employees while conserving the resources we expend.” Joining forces with five other systems nationwide to form the Healthier Hospitals Initiative in 2010, Partners has committed to the six challenges of the HHI agenda: Leadership; Safer Chemicals; Smarter Purchasing; Leaner Energy; Reduced Waste and Healthier Food.
Partners President and CEO Dr. Gary Gottlieb MD has made a public commitment to lead the organization in pursuit of these challenges and is co-chairing Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission healthcare sector energy committee, supporting the city’s Climate Action Plan and the goals of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act. Partners is on track to reduce energy consumption by 25% in 5 years through the implementation of energy conservation measures, on-site combined heat and power generation, renewable energy technologies and the adoption of the EPA’s Portfolio Manager Energy Star software for managing energy and water consumption. A comparable program for managing waste is underway through the implementation of single stream recycling and the adoption this summer of the EPA’s WasteWise Re-TRAC software. A growing dossier of ‘Best Practice’ case studies documents success stories covering the implementation of healthy food choices, food waste composting; elimination of bottled water on patient wards; saving power through computer shutdowns; reduction of commuting miles and office space through a “Connected Work” program, and many more.
In almost all of the projects implemented so far we have found significant cost savings as well as human health and environmental benefits. The biggest challenges ahead are organizational – building teams to implement the work; and data documentation to measure and manage progress. This is just the beginning.