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What Hospital Administrators Should Consider When Going Green

The health care industry is going green, and the environment stands to benefit in a big way. Between energy needed to keep hospitals running 24 hours a day to physical food and paper waste, hospitals in the U.S. account for 8 percent of the country’s total carbon footprint, according to GreenBiz.1

The good news is opportunities for green innovation in health care continue to grow. Programs that educate the leaders of tomorrow, such as The University of Scranton’s online Master of Health Administration program, prepares students for work in this ever-changing industry. Developing students’ critical-thinking and analytical skills will give those working in hospital administration the background they need to properly assess sustainable advancements.

Here are a few things hospital administrators should consider when going green:

Is there a green alternative—or can this product be eliminated entirely?

It’s counterintuitive to treat patients for cancer at the same time chemical-laden cleaning supplies infiltrate the hospital air. Some of these chemicals can trigger health issues.2 Thanks to the latest green innovation in health care, there are products that can clean at a medical-grade level that are also safe for patients with terminal diseases to be around. The newsletter Healthcare Business & Technology suggests buying cleaning materials that have a “Green Seal” certification.3

Swapping current products for green ones is a good start, but hospital administrators should also consider if some materials could be eliminated altogether. A study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery found almost $1,000 worth of disposable supplies goes unused or wasted during each procedure in the operating room.4 Hospital administrators should talk with nurses and surgeons to hear which materials and tools they regularly use and which they can operate without.

How will this affect our bottom line?

Going green doesn’t mean hospitals need to invest in a new, state-of-the-art facility powered by solar panels. Reducing, reusing, and recycling what the hospital already has can make a difference, too.

Consider this: The energy use intensity for hospitals is three times that of other commercial buildings in the U.S., according to U.S. Department of Energy.5 Simple changes, such as installing vacancy sensors to automatically turn off lights in empty rooms or screwing in LED light bulbs, can significantly decrease a hospital’s energy use and boost its bottom line.6 Taking advantage of the hospital’s natural light is another way to cut back on electricity.7

When assessing the economic impact of switching to more sustainable materials, it’s important to consider the lifetime of the product. If the green product lasts longer than the original or requires less upkeep, it could make economic sense despite the initial steeper sticker price.8

Will patients and the community benefit?

Embracing green practices isn’t just about saving money. Sustainability has environmental, economic, and social benefits. By finding the right sustainability measures to pursue, hospital administrators can help protect the Earth’s resources, keep patients healthy by eliminating toxins in the air, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions to benefit the entire community.

The Master of Health Administration program gives future health-care leaders the opportunity to learn about how green innovation can change the way hospitals are run. Find out more about the program by contacting The University of Scranton or requesting additional information today.

Sources:

  1. Fleischer, D. (2015). 5 best practices to green healthcare. Retrieved from https://www.greenbiz.com/article/5-best-practices-green-healthcare
  2. Healthier Hospitals (2015). Safer chemicals. Retrieved from http://healthierhospitals.org/hhi-challenges/safer-chemicals
  3. White, J. (2015). 5 practical ways for your hospital to go green. Retrieved from http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/hospital-green-sustainable/
  4. Castellucci, M. (2016). Hospital ORs may waste millions a year in disposable medical supplies. Retrieved from http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20160907/NEWS/160909935
  5. U.S. Department of Energy (2013). Advanced energy retrofit guide. Retrieved from http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/57864.pdf
  6. U.S. Department of Energy (2013). Advanced energy retrofit guide. Retrieved from http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/57864.pdf
  7. Fields, R. (2011). Going green: 5 ways to build a sustainable hospital. Retrieved from http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/going-green-5-ways-to-build-a-sustainable-hospital.html
  8. Lee, S. (2013). Hospitals go green on cleaning supplies. Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Hospitals-go-green-on-cleaning-supplies-4497107.php