Think “reuse” when it comes to back-to-school supplies

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Most kids like the idea of buying new school supplies each year, but going back to school doesn’t have to be expensive. Before shelling out lots of dough purchasing new supplies, look at what was left over from last year. You may be surprised to find most notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, and markers can be used again. Use paper bags, leftover wrapping paper, or even a couple layers of newspapers to make book covers.

Reusing school supplies not only saves money, it is better for the environment. Reusing results in less trash sent to the landfill. The plastic found in pens, folders, and calculators are produced with fossil fuels; fossil fuel emissions negatively impact the environment. Paper comes from trees; cutting trees on a massive scale is harmful to the environment.

So think “reuse” when it comes to this year’s school supplies. You can save money and teach your children what it means to be good stewards of their resources at the same time. If you must purchase a few new items, look for products made from recycled paper, plastic, and reclaimed materials.

Learn about other ways to save energy and money at Gundersen Envision.

e-Waste eye openers

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The term “e-Waste” is generally applied to corporate and consumer electronic equipment that are near or at the end of its immediate useful life. e-Waste includes discarded or obsolete cell phones, computers, notebooks, computer game consoles and other electronic devices.

Did you know?

  • e-Waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste.
  • A report from United Nations University (UNU) found that the world produced 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste in 2014 – an amount that would fill 1.15 million 18-wheel trucks. Lined up, those trucks would stretch from New York to Tokyo and back.
  • Large amounts of e-Waste are sent to China, India, Kenya where lower environmental standards and working conditions make processing e-Waste more profitable. It is reported that 80% of all Asian children have elevated levels of lead in their systems.
  • Health impacts from improperly disposed e-wasteo   Nose bleeds, seizures, child development, sinus perforations
    o   Mouth, teeth, gum damage, thyroid damage
    o   High blood pressure, irregular heartbeat
    o   Lung damage, asthma, bronchitis, cancer
    o   Kidney, liver, digestive system damage, fetus neurologic damage, ulcers
    o   Skin cancer, paralysis
    o   Death
  • e-Waste in landfills releases greenhouse gases equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 178,000 cars

What is your e-Waste contribution?

For more information, contact us at www.gundersenenvision.org.

Sources
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-e-waste
https://www.causesinternational.com/ewaste/e-waste-facts
http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/crazy-e-waste-statistics-explored-in-infographic.html
http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/e-waste-infographic.html

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.

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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.

 

 

Cut the Cup

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How often do you use a disposable cup at work when you purchase coffee, soda or even water? It’s alarming to think that over 500 billion disposable cups are sent to the landfill every year.1

To bring awareness to the amount of disposable cups used at Gundersen Health System, and to encourage employees to reduce their use of throw away cups, Gundersen Envision is launching the “Cut the Cup” initiative.

To participate in Cut the Cup, employees must use reusable cups for the beverages they consume at work. Employees are encouraged to show off to their co-workers by taking a creative photo of themselves using their reusable cup. Photos are displayed on the Cut the Cup website for all employees to see. Every quarter, the Envision committee will determine who submitted the most creative “mug shot” and will award a grand prize. Other participants will also be eligible for prizes.

“We as employees can make a difference with the choices we make each day,” says Jeff Rich, executive director of Envision. Whether it is printing less paper, turning off lights in an empty room or reducing disposable cup usage, the decisions we make have an impact on health, finances and the environment.  Wasting less is a healthy and cost conscious choice that we can make at work and at home.”

Why not get creative and launch a sustainability initiative at your organization? By rethinking, reusing and recycling, each one of  us can make a difference!

1International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2014

For more information on sustainability initiatives, visit www.gundersenenvision.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Gundersen featured at White House summit

Gundersen Health System once again stands upon a national stage to educate others on innovative sustainability and environmental program leadership for better public health.GHS featured at White House Summit

(L-R) Kyle Tafuri, sustainability coordinator at The Deidre Imus Environmental Health Center, Hackensack University Medical Center; Gary Cohen, president/ founder of Health Care Without Harm; Rachelle Wenger, director of public policy and community advocacy, Dignity Health; Seema Wadhwa, assistant vice president of sustainability and wellness, Inova Health System; and Gundersen CEO Jeff Thompson, MD.

Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO, joined health and medical leaders, academics and other stakeholders at the White House Summit on Climate Change and Health June 23. The discussion focused “on the impacts of climate change and underscoring the important role the public health community can play in communicating and preventing these impacts.”

“By deeply following our mission of ‘health and well-being for our communities,’ healthcare can be the catalytic inspiration that proves we can simultaneously improve health, the environment, and the economy,” Dr. Thompson told the attendees of a summit breakout session on healthcare resiliency.

The first health system in the United States to achieve energy independence, Gundersen is a model for health systems nationwide. Through Gundersen Envision, the organization’s environmental program, and work with the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and Health Care Without Harm, Gundersen will continue to provide leadership and innovation for the ultimate goal of better health and a better environment for patients, their families and the communities it serves.

Gundersen Health System receives Excellence Award for Sustainability

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Gundersen Health System recently received an Excellence Award for Sustainability from VHA Inc., the national healthcare network. The Excellence Award honors Gundersen’s work in creating a comprehensive sustainability program in 2014 that reduces the environmental impact of delivering healthcare in the local community. The award was presented on Thursday, May 14, during VHA’s national Navigating to Excellence Forum, held in Las Vegas.

The photo above pictures Gundersen Operations Vice President Kraig Schuster (second from left); Gundersen Purchasing Director Lynne Dosch (middle); and Gundersen Purchasing Manager Dave Demorest (second from right) accepting the award.

To determine the VHA sustainability award winners, entries were reviewed by a panel of judges from VHA, VHA member hospitals and experts in the sustainability field. The panel reviewed submitted entries based on the following criteria:

  • Innovation
  • Expandable learnings
  • Measurable results

Gundersen was one of five VHA member hospitals who received an award for a superior sustainability program in 2014.

“Across the country, VHA member organizations are leading the development of sustainability programs that make the delivery of care more environmentally conscious and resource considerate,” said Colleen Risk, VHA executive vice president, member networks and human resources. “Their spirit and commitment to sustainability reflects VHA’s values and mission, and we are proud to recognize Gundersen’s sustainability program achievement.”

Find out more about Gundersen’s best practices in healthcare sustainability.

About VHA Inc.

Effective April 1, 2015, VHA Inc., the national healthcare network of not-for-profit hospitals, and UHC, the alliance of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, combined into a single organization. The combined organization is the largest member-owned healthcare company in the country and is dedicated to leading healthcare innovation, creating knowledge and fostering collaboration to help our members thrive. The company serves more than 5,200 health system members and affiliates as well as 118,000 non-acute healthcare customers. Members range from independent, community-based healthcare organizations to large, integrated systems and academic medical centers, and it represents more than $50 billion in annual purchasing volume. Headquarters are in Irving, Texas, with locations in Chicago and other cities across the United States.