The WellSpan Spotlight

Cleaning our vroom: Hybrid vehicles join our fleet

Photos of two TOYOTA RAV 4 vehicles wrapped for our sustainability initiative. The vehicle is named FLORA

Meet our new team members, the Floras. 

Flora is the nickname for the new hybrid vehicles that recently replaced some conventional gas engine vehicles in the WellSpan fleet, as part of our Path to 2030 sustainability strategy to green our operations and improve the health of our region. 

Hybrid vehicles combine a gas engine, a battery, and an electric motor, offering higher fuel economy and lower tailpipe emissions.

“The reduction in carbon emissions is going to help us and the cities around us by reducing smog,” says Larry Gipson, WellSpan fleet services manager. “By using these vehicles, we are doing our part to better the air quality for people in our region.”

Environmental factors such as greenhouse gas emissions pose an increasing threat to health. U.S. health care organizations are major contributors to adverse environmental conditions, responsible for 8.5% of national greenhouse gas emissions and spending $8.3 billion on energy annually, according to Practice Greenhealth. 

The impact of our switch to nine hybrid vehicles, which began in 2023, results in a reduction in greenhouse gases. Altogether, the nine vehicles allow us to avoid producing the emissions equivalent to the annual output from six gas-powered vehicles, or from 1,158 propane cylinders used in barbecue grills, or from the burning of 27,772 pounds of coal.

The hybrid vehicles also collectively save us a total of 2,799 gallons of fuel a year, or about $10,000 a year in costs, based on current prices.

Our team members drive Floras to transport lab specimens and blood in York County and to transport Philhaven patients to and from services in Lebanon County.

Look for the white SUVs, which are decked out in a light green and blue design that says “hi i’m flora. let’s help the planet!” with the WellSpan logo and a pattern of leaves sprinkled on the vehicle.

Based on their size and capacity, hybrid vehicles eventually could make up about a fifth of our fleet of about 250 vehicles, Gipson says. We will replace conventional vehicles with hybrids going forward, whenever feasible.

“We benefit from the fuel savings. Our patients and our communities benefit from the reduction in carbon being released,” Gipson says.

Within the last several years, we also have installed five electric vehicle charging stations, available to anyone, across our region. The stations, with credit card capabilities, are located at: the WellSpan Heart & Vascular Center, 30 Monument Road, York; the WellSpan Health and Surgery Center, 1227 Baltimore St., Hanover; the WellSpan Urgent Care, 717 Town Center Drive, York; WellSpan Urgent Care, 100 Eisenhower Drive, Hanover; and the WellSpan Health Center at Penn National, 8131 Spyglass Hill Drive, Fayetteville. We are evaluating each WellSpan site, including hospitals, to determine where more stations will be installed.

The hybrids and charging stations are part of these other steps in our sustainability work:

We are taking deliberate steps to diversify our supply chain. These include increasing our reliance on local suppliers to reduce travel times for the goods we use.
We are reducing medical waste, by establishing centralized bins and reusable sharps containers. 
We are conserving resources in the operating room, which accounts for roughly 30% of hospital waste, by moving to reusable hard cases for surgical kits, replacing disposable containers with a fluid management system, and reviewing kits annually to eliminate unnecessary supplies. Our work in this area, and in reducing medical waste, has been recognized.
We are reprocessing single-use disposable medical devices.
We are working to reduce the carbon footprint of anesthesia gases.
We are partnering in recycling clinical plastics where appropriate.
We are partnering with Zipline, the world’s largest autonomous delivery service. Zipline’s drone deliveries emit up to 97% less carbon dioxide on average than a traditional automotive delivery service and will help us quickly and conveniently deliver prescriptions to patients’ homes.

As part of this commitment, we also signed two significant industry pledges: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthcare Sector Climate Pledge and the Health Care Without Harm Climate Challenge, including a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. We also joined the Good Food, Healthy Hospitals initiative, and is working toward Gold LEED Certification for the WellSpan York Hospital expansion project.

For more on our sustainability initiatives, read our most recent Community Impact Report.