CleanMed 2011: Health care goes green

March 28, 2011
by Olga Deshchenko, DOTmed News Reporter
The phrase "go green" can mean a lot of things, especially in the health care setting. In early April, health professionals who are interested in advancing the environmental sustainability of their facilities and practices will have the chance to explore its many meanings at CleanMed 2011.

CleanMed, a conference dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care, will take place on April 6-8 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel in Arizona. The meeting will bring together hospital representatives and vendors that aid facilities in becoming more environmentally friendly. The exhibit hall will feature approximately 75 exhibitors, ranging from companies that reprocess medical devices to pharmaceutical waste management vendors.

And CleanMed is very selective of who makes it to the hall, since vendors have to meet certain criteria in order to exhibit. "The vendors really have to meet the needs of the sector in a responsible manner," says Janet Brown, director of sustainable operations with Practice Greenhealth, a membership organization of health care professionals dedicated to sustainability. "I think that's challenging just because many vendors have some things to offer that do meet your challenges but they may also offer something that you try to move away from, so it's not always easy to do."

CleanMed expects to see around 800 attendees, who hold a range of positions in hospitals across the country. The meeting brings together sustainability coordinators, facility managers, chief nursing officers, materials managers, engineers and clinicians. "The sustainability community in health care is diverse," says Brown.

In addition to the meeting's numerous sessions and networking opportunities, CleanMed will also offer a number of pre-conference workshops. Attendees will be able to explore the LEED for Healthcare rating system, which was initially approved in November 2010. This will be the first in-depth workshop on LEED for health care training of its kind, says Brown.

There will also be a workshop on strategies for greening the operating room. "The operating room is a major source of revenue but it's also responsible for a huge environmental footprint," says Brown. "[ORs] can generate almost a quarter of the hospital's waste."

At the conference, attendees can expect to hear remarks by Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Catholic Healthcare West, who is this year's keynote speaker. Health care professionals will also have an opportunity to step off the conference's grounds to tour Ascent's reprocessing facility and witness SUD reprocessing first-hand.

And with the underlying theme of sustainability in mind, CleanMed pays attention to another element that's key for attendees -- the food. The conference organizers work to secure as many locally sourced healthy options as possible. "When you come to our conference, the food's really good," says Brown.

Attendees should see the conference as an opportunity to network with both veterans and newbies of health care sustainability, says Brown. "We always welcome new people. People that are newer on the scene often come with degrees that didn't exist 10-20 years ago and it's exciting," she says. "We welcome those new voices and we hope people will feel welcome to this event and find the value that they bring to the sector and to the work."