REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE
One element of Ministry Health Care’s commitment to keeping our patients first in everything we do is making health care more environmentally responsible and safe.
Nationwide, hospitals produce 7,000 tons of waste per day. Ministry Health Care facilities account for nearly 8 million pounds of total waste annually. Of that amount, 75 percent is solid waste, 6 percent is medical waste, 1 percent is hazardous chemical waste, and 18 percent is recycled/reused materials.
Ministry is working with Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) in the development of a facility self-assessment guide to first evaluate, and then enhance, Ministry’s environmental programs. Other health care organizations that have completed the process have found source reduction and recycling activities that protect the environment and can save hospitals more than $200,000 in reused items.
As Ministry reduces its waste, funds can be reallocated for investment in programs and services, new technology, and capital equipment for the benefit of patients, staff and communities.
Ministry’s current environmental focus is hazardous waste and toxic chemicals, including mercury reduction. Steps taken or already in progress include:
- Using digital thermometers
- Mercury-free motion switches / equipment in future purchases
- Replacing mercury blood pressure units
- Recycling and / or replacing fluorescent bulbs
- A battery collection program
- Conducting facility mercury audits to look for mercury-free alternatives
“We will continue to look at ways to reduce, reuse and recycle, and will communicate these efforts to our employees,” said Wayne Pattengill, director of environmental services at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. “As part of our health care ministry, we have a special obligation to care for all of creation and be good stewards of the earth and to leave a better environmental legacy to our children.”