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EPA Agrees to Montefiore Medical Center Environmental Self-Audit

Release Date: 01/02/2004
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(#04001) New York, N.Y. Montefiore Medical Center, one of the largest healthcare systems in the nation, has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a comprehensive environmental audit of its facilities. This agreement was reached through EPA's Healthcare Compliance Initiative, an innovative environmental self-audit program. It covers dozens of buildings located throughout Montefiore's facilities.

"Every institution that enters into a healthcare compliance agreement is working to safeguard the environment as well as its workers, patients and visitors," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "By reviewing its environmental practices, Montefiore can ensure that it is following environmental regulations and is a good environmental steward and a good neighbor."

"This initiative is consistent with our history of leadership in the revitalization and protection of our community," said Spencer Foreman, M.D., president of the Montefiore Medical Center. "As a leading provider of highly-specialized medical services to patients in the New York metro area, we see this as yet another way to care for the people we are here for, every day."

Under the agreement, signed by EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny and Montefiore's Executive Vice President Donald L. Ashkenase, Montefiore will audit its environmental practices at the Moses Division in the Norwood section of the Bronx, the Weiler/Einstein Division adjacent to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Pelham Parkway section of the Bronx, Children's Hospital, Greene Medical Arts Pavilion, Montefiore Medical Park and numerous primary care offices throughout the Bronx and Westchester County. It will self-report any violations, correct any deficiencies in its environmental management processes and take steps to prevent further recurrence of violations. The medical center has six months to conduct the audit and submit its disclosure reports to EPA. If Montefiore corrects violations and abides by the other terms of the agreement, EPA has agreed to waive "gravity-based penalties," which are penalties normally based on the seriousness of the violations. The agreement covers all major federal environmental programs including air, water, pesticides, solid and hazardous wastes, hazardous substances and chemicals, environmental response, emergency planning, community right-to-know and toxic substances control.

The Agency established the self-audit policy for healthcare providers to encourage prompt disclosure and correction of environmental violations, safeguarding people and the environment. Many hospitals were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws or had failed to implement effective compliance strategies. As part of the initiative, EPA contacted all the hospitals in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and provided free workshops and an informational Web site to alert them to their duties under the law. The Agency also warned them that inspections of their facilities with the risk of financial penalties were imminent. Hospitals can join the Agency's voluntary self-audit program, through which they can investigate and disclose environmental violations to EPA and, as a compliance incentive, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.

This is EPA's thirteenth self-audit agreement with a hospital in this region. In addition, thirteen similar self-audit agreements have been signed under a program for colleges and universities. Additional agreements are expected.

Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is an internationally recognized leader in patient care, education, research and community services. Located in the Bronx, Montefiore provides treatment programs for patients with all major illnesses and has distinguished centers of excellence in heart care, cancer care, children's health, women's health and surgery.