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  • Writer's pictureTom Petersen

Notes from Practice Greenhealth's CleanMed 2010 Annual Conference

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

(reBlogged from Codgell Spencer ERDMAN)

CleanMed’s mission is to “Accelerate the health care sector’s commitment to environmental sustainability and regenerative health to improve the health of people and the environment.”

I recently returned from Baltimore after attending Practice Greenhealth’s annual conference CleanMed 2010. The three day gathering attracted more than 800 participants; representing healthcare administrators, facility directors, physicians, clinicians and sustainability coordinators. Five key themes resonated for me, generating rigorous discussion by key leaders and experts in their respective fields.

CleanMed 2010 Key Themes:

* Global climate change and the existing and future impact on public health * The relationship between healthy food and healing outcomes * Greening the operating room * Environmentally preferable purchasing and the reduction of toxic chemicals in the delivery of care * The implementation and measurement of the greening of healthcare facilities construction and operations

A convergence is occurring between the greening of the ‘bricks and mortar’ and the operations and how capital investment in green facilities represent best practices for healthcare organizations to advance their sustainability model and reap the long term benefits. The large healthcare systems are leading the way with well established green teams and green appointed leadership roles.

Key operational strategies are in the reduction of toxic chemicals in the delivery of care. Solid waste versus red bag waste continues to be a low hanging fruit opportunity for reducing operational footprint and costs. The greening of the operating room is a key initiative in the inpatient setting. The goal here is to help the healthcare industry generate cost savings, maintain staff and patient safety while reducing the environmental footprint of the nation’s operating rooms. Many of these strategies are transferable to freestanding ambulatory care facilities.

Kaiser Permanente continues to make great strides recently launching their environmentally preferable purchasing guidelines in collaboration with Catholic Healthcare West and Premier. Josh Miller, Spectrum Health‘s Sustainability Coordinator presented an informative session on “Sustainability Metrics and Analysis: Measuring Change and Leveraging Information.”

Another convergence exists between sustainability strategies and evidence based design (EBD) in healthcare. A body of research is emerging correlating design strategies and environmental interventions such as, views and access to nature, and natural daylight in influencing healthcare outcomes. The overlap of these two areas of expertise support the business case for EBD activity around this growing body of research.

Practice Greenhealth hosted a Leadership Awards Ceremony in which Annie Leonard served as the keynote. Ms. Leonard is the host of the online film sensation ‘The Story of Stuff’ which has generated more than eight million viewers in 200 countries since its launch in 2007. Her work can also be found on the New York Times bestseller’s list in a book of the same name. To view the Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence and Leadership Award recipients, visit: Cogdell Spencer ERDMAN has worked with many of these healthcare organizations including System for Change Award Winner Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH), 2010 Partner for Change with Distinction Award Winner Stony Brook University Hospital (Stony Brook, NY) and Partner for Change Award Winner Franklin Square Hospital Center (Baltimore, MD). We applaud these and others in their continued efforts as stewards of the environment.

On Wednesday morning, author, blogger, physicist and climate expert, Joseph Romm delivered a keynote. His clear and scientific based message was somewhat disconcerting. He commented that just like when you visit the doctor, you want the truth. He expressed his concern that business as usual going forward would create a scenario in the next 20 years that would significantly change the geography in many parts of the world, and in this country significantly. He stated that pollution from energy is the greatest impact on human health and that a wait and see approach is a too late approach. He challenged each of us to do our part to shift the way we do business.

This is my fourth time attending CleanMed and what continues to attract me to this opportunity is the accessibility of key stakeholders and sharing of best practices across a broad range of expertise. Unlike any other conference, this event caters specifically to leadership in sustainability in healthcare. It is where all of the founders, pioneers and emerging leaders gather to share best practices, report successes and inspire advancement towards reducing healthcare’s environmental, social and economic footprint, thereby advancing the health of the community. I’m already looking forward to what’s in store for CleanMed 2011 – Creating Healing Environments in Phoenix.

Beth Churchill, LEED AP BD + C – Senior Consultant Strategy + Insight, Sustainability



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