Palomar Health has been honored with the 2012 “Partner for Change” Award from Practice Greenhealth, a national organization for health care facilities committed to environmentally responsible operations.
The honor is one of the organization’s Environmental Excellence Awards given annually to recognize outstanding environmental achievements in the health care sector.
The Partner for Change Award recognizes health care facilities that continuously improve and expand upon their mercury elimination, waste reduction and source reduction programs.
At a minimum, facilities applying for this award must be recycling 15 percent of their total waste, are well along the way to mercury elimination and have developed other successful pollution prevention programs in many different areas.
“Everything we do is directly tied to improving the health of the population, making patient experience better and reducing or controlling the costs of care,” Palomar Health System Sustainability Manager Barbara Hamilton says.
Some examples of the systemwide efforts put forth within the past year:
• Energy efficiencies have been identified that will save more than 6.3 million kilowatt hours or kWh of electricity and 225,000 therms of natural gas, for a potential annual savings of nearly $900,000.
• Annual savings of 15 million gallons of water at Pomerado Hospital as a result of the replacement of the central plant that provides heating and cooling.
• In 2011, nearly 400 tons of municipal solid waste was recycled, producing more than $60,000 in savings.
• Purchasing of sustainable, local and organic produce was increased to 43 percent system wide. “Our original goal was a five percent increase in the first year, so 43 percent was really amazing,” Hamilton says.
• Two programs - reusable linens and reprocessing of medical devices - eliminated more than 90,000 pounds of medical waste.
• Partnered with the North County Transit District to subsidize Route 353, which runs between both campuses, allowing hospital staff to park and ride free by simply showing an employee badge. “That will help us decrease parking impact at the hospitals,” Hamilton says. “Our staff has the ability to park at one of the transit centers and take that bus just a couple of minutes to work.”
The Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards were presented in May at the CleanMed 2012 Conference in Denver, the premier national environmental conference for leaders in health care sustainability.
“This award demonstrates Palomar Health’s commitment to the community to protect public health and preserve the environment,” says Laura Wenger, RN, Executive Director of Practice Greenhealth. “Palomar Health is truly demonstrating leadership for the future of health care.”
Practice Greenhealth members include hospitals, health care systems, businesses and other stakeholders engaged in the greening of health care to improve the health of patients, staff and the environment.
About Palomar Health
Palomar Health, formerly Palomar Pomerado Health, is the largest public health district by area in California. It currently operates two hospitals, two skilled nursing facilities and two outpatient health building as well as other facilities. It is among the largest employers in San Diego County with about 4,000 employees and more than 800 affiliated physicians.
In summer 2012, Palomar Health will open a state-of-the-art, 11-story, 740,000-square-foot hospital in Escondido. The hospital will include 288 beds and have significant room to expand in the future.
To learn more about Palomar Health, visit www.palomarhealth.org.