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Caritas Christi Health Care Enters Voluntary Agreement with EPA To Audit Six Member Hospitals and Sixty Facilities For Environmental Compliance

Release Date: 05/25/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865, rosner.sheryl@epa.gov
Andrea Williams, Caritas Christi Healthcare - 617-562-5671

For Immediate Release: May 25, 2005; Release # sraw050501

BOSTON - Caritas Christi Health Care, the second largest healthcare system in New England, has agreed to undertake a voluntary comprehensive environmental audit. Under the agreement, signed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Caritas Christi will voluntarily perform an audit of sixty-six facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to ascertain compliance with all applicable federal and state environmental regulations, and correct any violations it detects.

The agreement is part of a larger effort launched last spring by EPA’s New England office to foster increased compliance with environmental laws by New England hospitals. The Agency’s decision to focus on the healthcare industry was prompted by concerns that many New England hospitals may not be in full compliance with environmental laws. It also was influenced by the experience of EPA’s New York/New Jersey regional office, which took enforcement actions against several hospitals after significant non-compliance was found during inspections of hospital facilities.

"Caritas Christi has long embraced and supported a commitment to just stewardship of our human and material resources," said Michael Kneeland, MD, vice president for medical affairs. "Our environmental health and safety programs reflect concern for our neighbors and are consistent with our desire to ensure environmental compliance in the communities we serve. We enthusiastically partner with the Environmental Protection Agency to continue to improve our environmental programs."

Under the agreement, the hospital will complete a comprehensive environmental audit within the next two years covering all relevant state and federal environmental requirements. Caritas Christi agrees to disclose any violations that it finds to EPA, and correct those violations within 60 days of discovery. If the hospital uncovers violations that pose a serious threat to human health or the environment, it agrees to correct the problems immediately.

“Caritas Christi Health Care should be applauded for embracing a proactive approach to complying with environmental laws,” said Robert W. Varney, New England Regional Administrator. “The Agency looks forward to working with Caritas Christi and other New England hospitals as we embrace this innovative means to achieving compliance.”

In total, the agreement requires Caritas Christi Health Care to audit sixty-six facilities comprising six member hospitals including the following Massachusetts facilities: Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Boston; Saint Anne's Hospital, Fall River; Caritas Norwood Hospital, Norwood; Caritas Carney Hospital, Dorchester; Caritas Holy Family Hospital, Methuen; Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center, Brockton; and associated clinical and research laboratories; physician groups; other affiliated health care entities; and Caritas Labouré College, which grants associate degrees in nursing and allied health professions.

In a statement last April sent to more than 250 hospitals in New England, Varney said, “Many hospital functions such as laboratories, power plants, and vehicle maintenance facilities, have the potential to cause environmental violations if not properly managed. I strongly encourage you to identify and correct any such violations.” Currently, the Region is partnering with 124 New England healthcare facilities through the National Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) program to achieve mercury and solid waste reductions. For more information regarding H2E, go to: www.h2e-online.org Click icon for EPA disclaimer.

Healthcare facilities not only contribute to the economic health of New England but can also pose major environmental and public health concerns. Healthcare facilities are known to contribute to the presence of mercury, dioxin, and other persistent, bioaccumulative toxics in the environment. Nationwide, hospitals generate a wide variety of hazardous waste, and produce two million tons of solid waste, which is 1% of the total municipal solid waste in the U.S.

Information on EPA’s audit policy (http://www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/auditing/index.html)

Information on environmental compliance in Healthcare: (http://www.epa.gov/NE/healthcare/)