WellSpan Health has announced clinical and operational changes designed to improve the health of South Central Pennsylvanians and our planet. Strategic changes include partnerships with local suppliers, greening of clinical operations and increased water and energy conservation through efficiencies in business operations.
As part of this commitment, WellSpan has signed on to 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. WellSpan has also joined the Good Food, Healthy Hospitals initiative, and is working toward Gold LEED Certification for the WellSpan York Hospital expansion project.
“Our Path to 2030 sustainability strategy will deliver on our promise of improving the health of our communities across South Central Pennsylvania by taking action to protect our environment,” said Roxanna Gapstur, Ph.D., R.N., president and CEO of WellSpan Health. “This is not the path of least resistance. Rather, it is vital to reimagining healthcare and will lead to a better future for all of us.”
Environmental factors pose an increasing threat to health. According to Practice Greenhealth, the U.S. healthcare sector is a major contributor to adverse environmental conditions - responsible for 8.5% of national greenhouse gas emissions, spending $8.3 billion on energy annually and generating more than 30 pounds of waste per hospital bed per day. WellSpan is committed to implementing sustainable practices that reduce our environmental impact – with initial efforts focused on three areas.
First, to reduce WellSpan’s environmental impact while strengthening the local economy, we are taking deliberate steps to diversify our supply chain. We are increasing our reliance on local suppliers, partnering with local food suppliers like Bell & Evans and Wayne Nell & Sons Meats for chicken and beef, J Mar Farm for produce, and various local dairy farmers for milk to ensure we offer superior nutritional value and food quality to WellSpan team members, patients, and their families We are also considering factors such as local, diverse and sustainable criteria – in addition to product quality and price – when evaluating purchasing decisions for any good or service. Through The York Connector program, a collaboration with the City and the York Economic Alliance,WellSpan helps stimulate neighborhood economies by sourcing products through local small and diverse business.
Second, WellSpan is implementing a framework of sustainability in clinical operations. WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon has taken the first steps that has since earned the Practice Greenhealth 2022 Partner Recognition Award for achievement and innovation in environmental sustainability. The framework includes:
- Reducing regulated medical waste by establishing centralized bins and reusable sharps containers,
- Conserving resources in the operating room, which accounts for roughly 30 percent 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.
- Reprocessing single-use disposable medical devices
- Addressing the carbon footprint of anesthesia gas
- Recycling of clinical plastics where appropriate
Last year WellSpan Health avoided 112,000 pounds of waste to landfill through clinical device reprocessing alone. The plan is to build on these best practices to improve operational sustainability systemwide.
Third, WellSpan is focused on reducing energy, waste generation, and chemical use.
- The system plans to introduce hybrid vehicles into its fleet, along with more electric charging stations. WellSpan has installed its first charging stations at our facilities across South Central Pennsylvania and is expanding the program now.
- Evaluating plans to expand use of solar energy to support facilities across the system, building on success in leveraging green energy from a solar farm at the WellSpan Philhaven campus in Mount Gretna.
- And WellSpan is also working to improve inefficiencies in its courier service through routing optimization that will conserve energy and expenses.
WellSpan plans to announce specific goals for water, waste, and chemical use reductions in the near future.
“So many of these steps seem obvious, but it takes a real commitment to the overarching goals of this mission to address them one by one and find all the ways to think green,” said Keith Noll, senior vice president and chief administrative officer, WellSpan Health. “It’s having a different mindset, and one that we know will play a critical role in our future as an organization, and the health and wellbeing of our communities.”
For more information on WellSpan’s sustainability mission, visit www.WellSpan.org/Sustainability.