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A Green Health Care Organization Grows in Baltimore

LifeBridge Health incorporates green practices into its daily operations

Most people go to a hospital because they want the best treatment from the best doctors and physicians. The same goes for a rehabilitation center or a nursing home. Patients and families want to feel comfortable and safe in their surroundings.

In addition to providing quality health care services, one way that a facility can make people feel safe is by eliminating extra toxins and waste. By incorporating system-wide environmental initiatives, an organization can provide better overall physical, mental and emotional stimulation.

One shining example of an organization that has set high standards for quality health-related services and environmental commitment is LifeBridge Health. LifeBridge Health is a regional health care organization that consists of Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and their subsidiaries and affiliated units, including LifeBridge Health & Fitness.

What makes LifeBridge so green? For starters, LifeBridge Health was one of the first systems in the eastern region to enact system-wide green policies. For almost a decade the organization has been committed to sustainable practices such as food composting, recycling, waste elimination and energy efficiency. Every month a dedicated group of individuals, known as the “Freedom to Be Green Committee,” meet to discuss and evaluate green policies and procedures.

Composting

One of the most successful green initiatives that LifeBridge has implemented is system-wide composting. Since 2005 Sinai, Levindale, Northwest and Courtland Gardens have been composting leftover cafeteria food waste. In fact, in 2010 over 150 tons of food waste was composted from these four facilities.

How does the composting process work?

The kitchen staff separates the food waste during preparation and after disposal.

The food is then held in containers until it is picked up by a commercial composting facility.

The composting facility turns it into soil, which is used at various LifeBridge buildings for:

Campus-wide landscaping.

Therapeutic planting exercises for senior Levindale and Courtland Gardens residents.

Free giveaways to employees.

Energy

Energy efficiency also plays a large role in LifeBridge’s sustainability efforts. In 2010 Sinai Hospital began to replace its fluorescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LED light bulbs.

The purpose of doing this was not only to reduce its energy consumption, but also to prevent people from being exposed to the toxic element of mercury, which is found in traditional fluorescent lights.

Since this change was implemented the hospital has saved $850,000 in overall lighting costs, and it will save an additional $140,000 in 2012.

As of today 11, 700 working light bulbs and 1,172 ballasts have been donated to The Loading Dock, a non-profit organization located in Baltimore. They are reused for low-income housing and community projects. Anything that is not donated to The Loading Dock is properly recycled.

Greening the OR

The average hospital operating room generates between 20% -30% of a hospital’s overall waste. To reduce its OR waste stream Sinai implemented waste separation and recycling procedures for:

  • Blue wrap (a polypropylene plastic product that is used as a sterile protective cover to wrap and store sterilized instruments and trays)
  • Red bags (bags for infectious or hazardous material)
  • Clear bags (bags for non-infectious waste)

All other plastic is also recycled.

Since September 2008 the OR has captured and recycled over 20, 260 pounds of blue wrap!

Sinai’s OR also has glass, plastic and aluminum can recycling bins.

As well as non-confidential recycling containers.

Certain areas in the OR also use reusable gowns, back table covers, towels and basins.

Another green feature of the OR is the implementation of the Neptune Waste Management System. This is a self-cleaning, closed system that collects surgical waste fluid.

The benefits of using the Neptune system are that it minimizes human contact with hazardous and infectious fluids, it reduces solid waste disposal costs and it reduces the amount of time needed to turn over rooms.

Plus, every full fluid Neptune manifold (valve) can replace up to seven full fluid canisters, dramatically reducing red bag waste by 86%.

Other green features at LifeBridge Health include light switches that automatically turn off when the room is unoccupied, eco-friendly cleaning products, battery recycling and a green roof.

In recognition of its successful sustainability programs in mercury elimination, waste reduction and recycling LifeBridge Health has received five environmental awards: two Partner for Change Awards, a Communitas Award, an EPA Trailblazer Award and a Baltimore Business Journal Green Policy Award.

LifeBridge Health continues to work towards sustainable business practices. To learn more visit the LifeBridge Health Freedom to Be Green pages.

About Trish Broome

Trish is a half Korean hip hop head who writes satire music articles on The Rap Insider and muses over culture and diversity on Mixed Nation. In her spare time you can find her eating kimchi or tweeting at @TheGreenGroove.

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