Q&A with executive director for Practice Greenhealth

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | January 30, 2014
From the January 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Gone are the days when being ecofriendly or business-friendly were mutually exclusive. In fact, in the current world of health care, it’s often quite the opposite. Doing a little bit of homework and intelligently greening your health care offerings can have a positive impact on your bottom line. DOTmed Health Care Business News recently spoke with Practice Greenhealth’s executive director, Laura Wenger, to find out more about the association and about going “green.”

HCBN: Can you tell me how and why Practice Greenhealth was formed?
LW: It started officially through a grant as Hospitals for a Healthy Environment. A decision was made to create an implementation arm and the best way to do that was to create a membership association. So since Practice Greenhealth’s beginnings in 2008 with 50 hospitals, we’ve grown to 1,300 hospitals among our members today. And our membership has been growing at a rate of about 15 percent year-over-year for the past couple of years while maintaining greater than 90 percent retention.

We also have about 80 business members of Practice Greenhealth as well.

HCBN: What do you feel has been the association’s biggest accomplishment?
LW: I think it has been the broad increase of awareness and the broad uptake of sustainability in hospitals — really changing the mindset. We’re doing the best for health care, helping the bottom line, but also helping the environment so that everyone’s a winner. It’s taken time to get that message across, but they’re finally making the connection.

Another achievement is our awards program — we literally have several hundred questions to complete for the application, including uploading files, documents, images. It really shows across the country who our top performers are and what they can achieve. Also, with the metrics we have developed for this program we find that they use those metrics to set their own facility level goals for the year.

This coming year, we’re launching a new awards application and tracking system that should be more user-friendly and should allow for better data. With the new tracking system we’ll be able to identify the top 25 sustainable hospitals in the country.

Each different award category looks at key performance indicators and weighs questions, based upon 10 categories for health care;
  1. Leadership

  2. Waste

  3. Chemicals

  4. Greening the OR

  5. EPP

  6. Food

  7. Energy

  8. Water

  9. Climate

  10. Green Building

HCBN: How do you consider performance in regards to climate change?

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