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Health Care Industry Leaders Earn Top National Awards

Release Date: 4/19/2005
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

Kaiser Permanente Hawai'i honored

HONOLULU -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently honored Kaiser Permanente's Hawai'i Region Waste Minimization Team and 15 other health care organizations throughout California as part of a national program to promote pollution prevention in hospitals.

Last week the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) Program announced its annual Environmental Leadership, Champions for Change, Partners for Change and Making Medicine Mercury Free Awards. Nearly one quarter of the 60 award winners nationwide are from California and Hawai'i.

The EPA, the American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association and Health Care Without Harm have joined forces to eliminate the use of mercury, cut health care waste, and to phase out the use of hazardous substances and persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic chemicals.

"We applaud the leadership efforts of these health care facilities in thinking of new and fresh ways to reduce their mercury and other waste," said Jeff Scott, director of the EPA's Pacific Southwest Waste Division. "This innovative work to prevent pollution generated by hospitals will make hospital environments healthier and may very well prevent hospital visits in the first place."

The Environmental Leadership Award is the premiere national recognition for outstanding achievement in environmental innovation in health care. The Environmental Leadership Award and the Making Medicine Mercury Free Award were presented to the following facilities in California and Hawaii:

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii Region in Honolulu, Hawaii
Kaiser Permanente's Hawaii Region Waste Minimization Team works closely with Kaiser's strong, national team to share goals, initiatives and best practices and boasts an energy savings of $30,427. An aggressive environmentally preferable purchasing program ensures "green" fabrics in furniture, panel and tack boards are purchased. Contracts for construction require the recycling of construction and demolition debris. A mercury-free purchasing policy guarantees mercury containing devices are replaced with non-mercury alternatives, when possible.

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, Calf.
A deep commitment to recycling and ongoing waste reduction education programs earned Alta Bates this honor. This year, the center recycled 757 tons of mixed paper, co-mingled cans and bottles, and over 50 percent of construction and demolition materials. An equipment reuse program netted the facility $53,500, and included 10 truckloads of equipment donated to international relief programs and the auctioning of old equipment that would otherwise be disposed.

H2E's Champions for Change Awards honor groups that take a leadership role in promoting H2E goals to their members, and whose members have implemented programs in support of these goals. The Champions for Change Award was presented to the following groups in California:

California Department of Health Services Hospital Pollution Prevention Program
California DHS has coordinated with other departments and the California Healthcare Association to provide local training, on-site assistance, and recognition to hospitals reaching the national H2E goals. Activities in 2004 include expanding mercury reduction efforts to include clinics and medical offices, promoting reprocessing of single use medical devices, and working to keep pharmaceutical waste out of wastewater.

Catholic Healthcare West
Catholic Healthcare West has achieved system-wide progress toward H2E's goals by instituting a mercury-free purchasing policy, reducing overall waste by 9 percent in 2004, decreasing energy use by 7 percent and hazardous waste generation by 23 percent, despite growth in facilities. CHW environmental improvement projects include such innovative programs as the cultivation of organic gardens, composting of food waste, and use of biodiesel fuel.

In addition to honoring these environmental leaders in the health care industry, H2E presented 11 health care institutions in California with the Partners for Change Award and Making Medicine Mercury Free Award. These awards honor institutions that are eliminating mercury, reducing waste and use of toxic products and practicing environmentally preferable purchasing.

Partners for Change Award winners included: Santa Cruz's Dominican Hospital, Kaiser Permanente Oakland, Richmond and Roseville Medical Centers, San Bernandino's St. Bernardine Medical Center, and Red Bluff's St. Elizabeth Community Hospital.

Making Medicine Mercury Free award winners included Anaheim Memorial Medical Center, Gilroy's Saint Louise Regional Hospital, Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, San Diego's Scripps Mercy Hospital, and University of California San Diego Medical Center.

For more information on the Healthy Hospitals for the Environment visit: http://www.h2e-online.org.

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