The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) has won two awards for environmental excellence from Practice Greenhealth, a national membership organization for health care facilities committed to environmentally responsible operations.
The “Partner for Change Award” honors the medical center’s efforts to reduce waste, eliminate mercury from the hospital environment and prevent pollution. At a minimum, facilities must recycle 10 percent of their total waste, have a mercury elimination program in place and have developed other successful pollution prevention programs.
UMMC also has won a separate award for its exceptional mercury elimination program. Criteria for the “Making Medicine Mercury-Free Award” include having mercury-free management and purchasing policies, and recycling programs. Mercury from thermometers, blood pressure cuffs and other equipment poses a potential risk to hospital employees and can pollute the environment.
Practice Greenhealth presents awards in seven categories each year for outstanding environmental achievement in the health care sector. The awards will be presented in Baltimore on May 12, 2010, in conjunction with CleanMed 2010, a global conference for environmental leaders in health care.
In addition to receiving plaques, award winners will have 100 trees (per award) planted in their honor through a partnership with Trees for the Future. More than 30,000 trees were planted in India in 2008 and Haiti in 2009 on behalf of Environmental Excellence Award winners.
“These awards recognize the hard work and determination it takes to protect the environment and public health, yet still maintain cost-effectiveness. We are all working to reduce, re-use and recycle to create better, safer, greener workplaces and communities,” says Denise Choiniere, M.S., R.N., the sustainability manager for 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 hospital tens of thousands of dollars each year. These initiatives include: recycling “sharps” containers; using more environmentally friendly plastic IV tubing: purchasing patient slippers made out of recycled cotton; starting a full-scale waste separation and single-stream recycling program for paper, plastic, glass and aluminum; and reducing energy consumption by 5 percent a year through better management techniques and equipment.
In addition, the medical center has started a weekly farmers’ market to increase the availability of locally grown foods. The market, which started on May 11, will run through November.
To learn more about the University of Maryland Medical Center’s “green” initiatives, visit http://www.umm.edu/green/initiatives.htm.
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