The University of California's five medical centers support the clinical teaching programs of UC's medical and health sciences schools and collectively comprise one of the largest health care systems in California
From foodservice and nutrition, to new hospital design, UC Medical Centers are increasingly adopting operational practices that further their mission of advancing health
UCSF Medical Center Receives Recognition for Sustainable Practices
UCSF Medical Center has received recognition for participating in environmentally conscious operations from Practice Greenhealth, an independent non-profit organization focused on improving health care's environmental performance. On May 12, UCSF received the Partner for Change Award at the CleanMed conference in Baltimore, Md.. The award is given annually in national recognition for outstanding environmental innovation in health care by Practice Greenhealth. In addition to the actual award, all Practice Greenhealth award recipients including UCSF will have 100 trees planted in Haiti on their behalf.
UCSF was recognized for integrating environmental responsibility into their practices and policies to be part of the standards at UCSF. The Partner for Change award recognizes health care facilities that continuously improve and expand on environmental programs to be more sustainable.
To be eligible for this award, facilities applying must be recycling 10 percent of their total waste, have a mercury elimination program with a plan for total elimination, and have developed other successful pollution prevention programs. "This award reflects a dedicated effort from medical center staff and leadership to make our operations more sustainable year after year," said Tim Mahaney, executive director of UCSF Medical Center Facilities and Support Services. "We are working to continuously improve sustainability practices for our existing and future facilities."
UCSF's Commitment to Green Building
With 24-hour operations and volumes of regulations, the task of designing, building and operating an environmentally sustainable hospital can be costly and daunting. However, studies in 2004 (pdf) and 2006 show that there is no significant difference in average costs in green buildings as compared to non-green buildings. UCSF Medical Center Facilities & Support Services is embracing ecologically friendly design by adopting Leadership in Environmental Energy & Design (LEED) principles. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system. In addition to the Mission Bay LEED Gold project goal, three additional UCSF buildings are being submitted for certification through LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance. Facilities & Support Services is supporting LEED accreditation for an increasing number of staff to increase their knowledge on such topics as water and energy efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, and indoor environmental air quality. These LEED-trained staff will make our buildings healthier for patients and staff, the surrounding community and the environment.
UCSF Joins Practice Greenhealth
In November 2009, UCSF Medical Center became a member of Practice Greenhealth. Practice Greenhealth is the nation's leading membership and networking organization for institutions in the healthcare community that have made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices. Members include hospitals, healthcare systems, businesses and other stakeholders engaged in the greening of healthcare to improve the health of patients, staff and the environment.
Facilities staff at UCSF Medical Center are already finding tremendous value in the benefits associated with this partnership. Benefits include: free access to Webinars and Webinar Archives on issues from green building and operations to water saving to food services; eligibility for prestigious sustainable health care awards; a 50% discount to the annual CleanMed Conference; Green Team support; and more.
Savings Achieved With Switch to Reusable Supplies
Materials Management at UCSF Medical Center will save more than $500,000 this fiscal year by switching from certain disposable products to those that are sanitized or sterilized and reused, making them more environmentally friendly. Carl Solomon, director of Hospitality Services and co-chair of the Recycling Work Group of the UCSF Sustainability Steering Committee, said UCSF has contracted with Stericycle, a medical waste and sharps disposal company, to collect, disinfect and reuse plastic containers for "sharps," which are hypodermic needles and other sharp tools such as scalpels, as well as certain containers for medications. This change will divert more than 100,000 pounds of plastic waste from landfills and save about $275,000 a year.
In addition, the medical center is switching from disposable patient pillows to vinyl-covered reusable ones that are cleaned and disinfected after each patient is discharged from the hospital. Each pillow is expected to last about six months rather than thrown out after each patient's hospital stay. In the past, the medical center purchased about 160,000 disposable pillows a year, resulting in 296,000 pounds of waste. The change to reusable pillows is expected to save the medical center an additional $250,000 a year. Amy Nichols, director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, said these changes were implemented after proposals were analyzed and approved by the medical center's Value Analysis Committee, a committee created last July to evaluate products in regard to cost, ease of use and effectiveness, and patient safety.