Gundersen earns prestigious environmental awards

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For the 10th consecutive year, Gundersen Health System has been recognized by Practice Greenhealth for its environmental initiatives.

Gundersen received the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award and four Circles of Excellence Awards last week during CleanMed, the national environmental conference for leaders in healthcare sustainability, .

“This recognition is meaningful confirmation by our peers that we are on the right path,” explains Mark Platt, senior vice president of Business Services at Gundersen. “But we don’t do this work for the fancy awards. We do it because it is the right thing to do for our patients, their families, our staff and all the communities we serve. The work we do embodies the mission and values of Gundersen Health System.”

According to Cecelia DeLoach Lynn, member of the Practice Greenhealth Awards team, “The Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award is a competitive award, encouraging hospitals to continue their pursuit of sustainable innovation across the healthcare sector. Gundersen Health System has been identified as one of the leaders in this sector, driving sustainability and embedding environmental stewardship into the very core of its culture.”

Cecelia explains that the Circles of Excellence honor up to 10 of the highest performing hospitals in 10 areas of sustainability expertise. Gundersen has been awarded the Circles of Excellence in Leadership, Waste, Energy and Climate. “These awards highlight those hospitals that are pushing the envelope and driving innovation in sustainability performance in each sustainability category,” Cecilia explains.

“We are one of only a few healthcare organizations in the country that have sustained this high level of environmental stewardship and been recognized for a decade or more,” says Tom Thompson, sustainability coordinator at Gundersen. “While this is a great accomplishment, our work isn’t finished. We are always coming up with new projects and initiatives as we continuously improve projects and processes for even better outcomes.”

To learn more about Gundersen’s Envision program, go to gundersenenvision.org.

 

Visit us at CleanMed – booth 403

May 17-19, Dallas, TX

What happens when longtime sustainability leaders Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm bring together people from across the country and around the world to talk about green healthcare? CleanMed happens.

CleanMed is the premier conference behind the movement for greener, more effective healthcare. Over a thousand people come to a different city every year to take part in three days of learning, networking, and inspiration. This includes representatives from hospitals, healthcare systems, group purchasing organizations, food service directors and healthcare architects and designers—and representatives from Gundersen Health System.

This year’s Gundersen presenters or co-presenters at CleanMed include:

  • Eric Bashaw, Facilities Operation Manager
  • Mark Platt, senior vice president of Business Services
  • Stephen B. Shapiro, MD, GACS, General Surgery and Colorectal Surgery
  • Jeff Thompson, MD, Executive Advisor and Chief Executive Officer Emeritus

At Gundersen Health System we’re passionate about helping healthcare leaders deliver greener healthcare. Gundersen Health System’s environmental program, Envision® has become known as a model for healthcare organizations nationwide. We can show you how developing or enhancing a portfolio of sustainability projects can help lower costs while improving the health of the communities you serve.

CleanMed is a chance for us to learn more about where healthcare is headed including the sector’s biggest challenges and opportunities, and how our products and services can help bridge those challenges.

Visit us at booth 403 to get a firsthand look at the services we offer.

Find out more about Envision at www.gundersenenvision.org.

Employees step up to reduce cost of hazardous waste disposal

It is no secret that Gundersen Health System has a nationally recognized in-house pharmaceutical waste program. However, the program wouldn’t be as successful if it weren’t for the hard work of employees who directly handle the pharmaceutical waste. Thanks to them, the program has undergone significant improvements since its creation in 2009.

For example, at the beginning of the program, Gundersen was spending $151,000 per year disposing of pharmaceutical waste. Through comprehensive measures and teamwork, Gundersen spent less than $10,000 on hazardous waste disposal in 2015.

The ongoing efforts of employees allows the program to improve each year. The success is a collaboration of many departments including Pharmacy, Nursing, Environmental Services, Security, Environmental Compliance, Sustainability and Facilities.

The following images showcase a few Gundersen employees who directly participate in the pharmaceutical waste program on a daily basis. Pictured below is Theresa Seebruck, lead pharmacy technician in the Pharmacy department, disposing of pharmaceutical waste in the hazardous waste bins.

Harzardous waste 1

Gundersen’s controlled substance witness waste program prevents controlled substances from being dumped down the sewage drains. Since the creation of the pharmaceutical waste program, 345 pounds of controlled pharmaceutical waste was diverted from going down the sewers in the first six months.

Gundersen no longer flushes any pharmaceutical waste and instead ensures that all pharmaceuticals are incinerated according to best environmental practices. Shown below is Jennifer Lee, also a pharmacy technician, showing how to use the witness waste container.

Hazardous waste 2

Chad Olstad, environmental specialist in Environmental Services, is shown removing a hazardous waste container from a department.

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The waste is taken to Facilities employees  who sort and separate the waste for shipment. These efforts have eliminated the need for a third party vendor to package the waste.

These are just a few examples of employees who participate in the pharmaceutical waste program. Many others are involved in making the program successful and their hard work is commended.

Please share your waste management or other sustainable practices by emailing envision@gundersenhealth.org.

 

 

Happy Earth Day from Envision

Mug shots

Earth Day was first celebrated more than 45 years ago, and is still celebrated on April 22nd of each year.  Rallies, conferences, outdoor activities and service projects are occurring worldwide today in observance of our planet and its protection.  Perhaps you have plans to participate!

At Gundersen, however, Earth Day is more than just a single day.

Being environmental stewards is a system-wide mission for Gundersen.  Gundersen has been nationally recognized for their innovative environmental initiatives, and is considered a leader in healthcare sustainability.  Improving the health of the communities Gundersen serves is a role taken very seriously, and is a shared responsibility of all employees at Gundersen.

One example of this is Gundersen’s current “Cut the Cup” employee challenge.  The goal of the challenge is to bring awareness to the number of disposable cups used at Gundersen, and to encourage employees to reduce their use of throw-away cups.  To participate in the challenge, employees must use reusable cups for the beverages they consume at work.  Employees are having fun with the challenge by taking creative photos of themselves using their reusable cups, and submitting them to a “show your mug” contest.  Every quarter, a prize is awarded to the employee with the most creative “mug shot”!  Check out some of the pictures below!

Are you doing anything at your workplace and/or home to support a healthy environment?  We want to hear about it!  Tell us by using the comment feature below this post.

Happy Earth Day!

www.gundersenenvision.org

Waste not, want not

Earth day

Earth Day is April 22. Now is a good time to think about our commitment to the environment. Reducing waste is critical to environmental sustainability.

The most effective way to reduce waste is not to create it in the first place. Reducing and reusing are effective ways to save natural resources, protect the environment and save money.

Ideas on how to reduce and reuse:

  • Buy used. You can find everything from clothing to building materials at reuse centers and consignment shops. Used items are often less expensive and just as good as new.
  • Bring reusable shopping bags with you to the store.
  • Look for products that use less packaging. Buying in bulk, for example, can reduce packaging and save money.
  • Buy reusable items instead of disposable items. Bring your silverware and cup to work.
  • Maintain and repairs things such as clothing, tires, and appliances so they won’t end up in the landfill.
  • Find creative ways to reuse old stuff.
  • Borrow, rent, or share things infrequently used like party decorations, tools, or furniture.
  • Trim the bare minimum from vegetables to help reduce food waste.

Find out other ways to reduce waste at www.gundersenenvision.org.

 

Healthcare sustainability: Reducing food waste

Watch our “Lean” approach to reducing food waste video.

One of the key components of any environmental program is reducing the amount of waste that is generated. As with any dietary program, there will always be some amount of food leftover from the service line and scraps from food prep.

At Gundersen Health System, the Nutrition and Hospitality Services department uses a tracking program called LeanPath® to determine exactly how much and what food is thrown away every week. The data is fed into a software program that gives staff valuable information, such as the time of day or day of the week that the most food waste is generated or the type of food that is thrown away most often.

Based on the data, changes are made to reduce the waste. Many of the changes are fairly simple to accomplish, like adjusting the amount of soup that is warmed up at certain times of day or educating staff on how to prepare vegetables so there is less scrap waste. These simple changes can add up to huge cost savings.

A byproduct of the food waste reduction program is a food donation program to the local Salvation Army. Each day, food is left over that is still safe to eat but cannot be served in the hospital due to food service regulations. Instead of throwing away the food, Nutrition and Hospitality Services staff package it up, label it and set it aside in the cooler or freezer. A Salvation Army member picks up the food to be served in their soup kitchen. Gundersen donates more than 500 meals a month.

By rethinking how food is prepared and finding ways to use leftovers, you can reduce the amount of food that is being put into the waste stream.

Learn more about reducing food waste at gundersenenvision.org.