Hospital to celebrate Earth Day with 'scrub' swap, office-supply exchange and clean-up activities
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) has launched a variety of “green” initiatives that not only have significantly reduced energy consumption and eliminated tons of waste, but also are saving the 731-bed hospital in downtown Baltimore tens of thousands of dollars each year.
As part of its “Green on Greene Street” campaign, the medical center has:
To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, the medical center is sponsoring a “scrub” swap for employees to donate their old scrubs and shop for “new” ones. Employees also will have the opportunity to exchange office supplies and remove clutter from their work areas.
“For us, ‘Green on Greene Street,’ is not just a clever slogan. It emphasizes our commitment to create a healthier environment for everyone. Our comprehensive hospital-wide program includes everything from energy conservation and recycling to healthier food choices and even a farmers’ market,” says Jeffrey A. Rivest, president and chief executive officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“Our mantra is: ‘Reduce, re-use and recycle,’ ” adds Denise Choiniere, M.S., R.N., the medical center’s sustainability manager. “And we’ve had considerable success in reducing our environmental footprint since we first started this program in late 2007.”
“We need to dispel the myth that ‘going green’ is more expensive,” Choiniere says. She says that the medical center’s program has had a significant impact on the “triple bottom line” – people, planet and pocketbook. “The return on all three is increasing. It has actually become less expensive to be environmentally responsible, and everyone is benefiting from it,” she says.
Since the “green team” was formed, the medical center has begun to recycle cardboard, plastics, aluminum, paper, alkaline and rechargeable batteries, blue plastic “wrap” used in the operating room and plastic containers for “sharps,” or discarded syringes and other sharp instruments. The sharps containers recycling program alone has diverted 34 tons of plastic from the waste stream, saving more than $100,000 this year. Also, because no new sharps containers are being shipped to the medical center, hospital officials no longer need to dispose of two tons of cardboard shipping boxes.
A new heat-recovery system produces sufficient hot water to meet 50 percent of the hospital’s peak demand for hot water and heat, says Leonard Taylor, Jr., vice president for facilities management. “By recapturing heat in this way, we don’t have to purchase large amounts of high-pressure steam to produce hot water,” Taylor says.
Other state-of-the-art technologies enable the medical center to save an average of 57,000 gallons of water a day – about 10 percent of UMMC’s daily water usage.
In addition, the medical center is using environmentally friendly cleaning products and paper towels and bathroom tissue made of 100 percent recycled material. Vacuums are HEPA-filtered and certified, and the cleaning staff is using microfiber mops, which save more than 500,000 gallons of water a year.
“Our employees and patients really benefit from our decision to switch to green products, thereby decreasing the amount of toxic chemicals in the environment. Over time, exposure to these chemicals can lead to health problems, such as asthma,” Choiniere says.
She notes that when medical center officials make purchasing decisions, they investigate the practices of the companies they are purchasing from in order to ensure environmentally sound shipping, packaging and disposal methods.
The medical center’s program has won numerous awards, and its “green team” has grown to 75 members representing 32 patient care areas. In November 2009, UMMC was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for environmental excellence in health care for its University Farmers’ Market, which is held from May to November. Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (MD H2E) has recognized UMMC as a leader in the statewide movement to adopt more environmentally sound practices.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.