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EPA Signs Environmental Self-Audit Agreements Covering Fourteen New York Hospitals, Two-Thirds of the Hospitals in Greater Rochester Area

Release Date: 08/25/2004
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(#04135) New York, N.Y. -- Fourteen members of the Rochester Regional Healthcare/Joint Ventures Corporation have signed agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) committing to conduct comprehensive environmental audits of all their buildings and facilities. This represents 67% of all the hospitals in the Greater Rochester region. The agreements were reached through EPA's Healthcare Compliance Initiative, an innovative environmental program that helps hospitals and healthcare facilities comply with environmental regulations through self-audits. Participants assess their compliance with all major environmental programs and report and correct violations. If these institutions correct all violations and abide by the other terms of their individual agreements, EPA has agreed to waive "gravity-based penalties," which are penalties normally based on the seriousness of the violations.

"I am confident that other New York healthcare institutions will follow the lead of these hospitals, and enter into healthcare compliance agreements with EPA," said EPA RegionalAdministrator Jane M. Kenny. "Every institution that audits its environmental practices is working to safeguard the environment as well as its workers, patients and visitors. By signing self-audit agreements, healthcare facilities are ensuring that they are good environmental stewards and good neighbors to the communities they serve."

The participating institutions are:

    • Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville
    • St. Joseph's Hospital in Elmira
    • Schuyler Hospital in Montour Falls
    • Lakeside Hospital in Brockport
    • Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital in Bath
    • Highland Hospital in Rochester
    • Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira
    • St. James Mercy Health in Hornell
    • Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital in Penn Yan
    • Thompson Health in Canandaigua
    • Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville
    • Geneva General Hospital
    • Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic
    • Medina Memorial Health Care System
"By bringing together this large group of healthcare institutions in the region, we enabled our hospitals to meet their environmental obligations to the communities they serve in a highly effective manner," said Ronald Van Stean, the Corporation's Director of Contract Administration. Working together cooperatively, the Rochester area hospitals were able to build in an educational component through sharing of information and training to enhance their knowledge of the environmental regulations that affect their facilities.

EPA 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.

To date, EPA has signed51 self-audit agreements with hospitals, as well as colleges and universities in New York and New Jersey. Additional agreements are being developed and more are expected.