Making Health Care Green: Local Hospitals Honored for Sustainable Practices

Tom Giffey

Three Chippewa Valley hospitals received awards this spring for their commitment to making the health care sector more earth-friendly. HSHS Sacred Heart in Eau Claire, HSHS St. Joseph’s in Chippewa Valley, and Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire were all honored with the Partner for Change Award from Practice Greenhealth, a nationwide nonprofit organization that promotes  environmental sustainability. According to the organization, “The Greenhealth Partner for Change Award recognizes superior performance in environmental sustainability, covering a range of different sustainability programs and activities.” This includes reducing mercury use, reducing and recycling waste, sourcing products sustainably, and more, a press release stated. Among the hospitals’ specific achievements: Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s recycled more than 275 tons of co-mingled materials in 2017 and donated more than 6,400 pounds of medical equipment and supplies to development countries, while Mayo Clinic Health System reduced its energy use by 20 percent (three years before its 2020 goal to do so) and expanded recycling programs in patient areas. Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire also received the Greening the OR Recognition Award for making “substantial progress in reducing the (environmental) impact of the surgical environment.” In addition, Hospital Sisters Health System – which includes Sacred Heart and St. Josephs’s – was one of only 16 health systems nationwide to be given the System for Change Award, which honors the pursuit of system-wide sustainability goals.