Gundersen Health System on international stage

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Gundersen Health System took to an international stage again recently to share its work at the intersection of clinical care and sustainable business practices. Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO emeritus and executive advisor, presented Jan. 17 in Beijing at the International Workshop on Green and Sustainable Healthcare Systems and shared sustainability best practices with senior Chinese research and policy officials.

One key outcome of the conference was an agreement between United States-based Health Care Without Harm and other conference attendees to continue work, over the next five years, to strengthen cooperation and establish an exchange and communication mechanism between the U.S. and China on climate, including its impact on global health.

“Chinese leaders for the first time publicly admitted that 1 million Chinese die each year of air pollution and that they are a low tier country when it comes to health and the environment, ” notes Dr. Thompson. But soon, they will be a leader. Last year China put up two wind turbines–and a football field of solar panels–every hour for the whole year!”

For information on Gundersen’s sustainable best practices, visit www.gundersenenvision.org.

 

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Introducing the Employee Home Solar Discount program

Register for today’s live webinar, Introducing the Employee Home Solar Discount Program, presented by Practice Greenhealth. This webinar is the first in a series of Green Employee Benefits for Practice Greenhealth members.

The webinar begins at 1 p.m. EDT. Click here to request access to the webinar. If you have problems logging in, contact Peggy Rademaker at prademaker@practicegreenhealth.org.

This new program provides hospitals with an incredible opportunity to offer employees the chance to buy or lease solar systems for their homes at a substantially lower rate than the national average. Implementing the program at your health system or hospital provides a great incentive to engage employees and also contributes to increasing the resilience of their communities.

Health systems that are members of the Health Care Climate Council have been piloting the project. Two of these pilot projects – Mark Platt from Gundersen Health System and Sarah O’Keefe from University Hospitals – will share their stories and experiences during the webinar.

Lauren Kleinman from Practice Greenhealth will present the Toolkit to assist members with implementing this Green Employee Benefit at their own hospitals. As an additional incentive, Practice Greenhealth will announce the details of a contest to award free CleanMed 2017 registrations and lodging to the health systems that establish the best Employee Home Solar programs.

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Mark Platt
Senior Vice President of Business Services, Gundersen Health System
In the role of Senior Vice President of Business Services, Mark oversees the Envision program (Gundersen Health System’s sustainability program), in addition to business development and marketing, business health services, community and preventive care services, corporate communications, external affairs and government relations, facilities, and supply chain. He also leads the strategic planning process as a member of the senior leadership team. Mark received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University.

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.

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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.