Healthy Work/Healthy Home
Healthy Work/Healthy Home Event Celebrates Its 15th Year
“Health care is about more than just putting a bandage on an injury,” said President and CEO Kevin Tabb, MD, at the annual Environmental Champions breakfast during the Healthy Work/Healthy Home event on April 23. “We take care of the sick, the physically injured, and all of our patients’ needs. When I think about Healthy Work/Healthy Home, I think about this greater meaning. Health care involves understanding our place in the world and also means keeping our environment healthy.”
BIDMC celebrated 15 years of honoring individual and collaborative efforts in meeting the challenge of environmental responsibility. “We have an amazing community of people who roll up their sleeves and ask how they can help,” said Jane Matlaw, Director, Community Relations, and chair of the Healthy Work/Healthy Home committee. “We’ve been able to continue this work for 15 years because of the efforts made throughout the medical center by our employees each and every day.”
What started as a collective effort to eliminate mercury thermometers and blood pressure cuffs across the medical center 15 years ago is now a celebration of environmental leadership and a showcase of ways that staff have gotten involved.
Ten Environmental Champion Awards were given to employees who demonstrate initiative in tackling environmental issues in their units or departments. Click here for the list of winners and the efforts they championed.
One department was also recognized as the inaugural “Green Office” at BIDMC. “Development helped pilot BIDMC’s new Green Office program,” said Tabb. “They engaged employees, reduced waste collectively, and conserved resources to complete level one certification in the Green Office Program.”
Amy Lipman, Sustainability Coordinator, worked with staff in the Office of Development and created this certification process.
“Development proved that it’s not hard to make your office ‘green,’” Lipman said. “It took about a month from start to finish. Changes such as ensuring that there are recycling bins wherever there is a trash bin, printing double sided on paper, turning off lights, and using reusable dishware are all part of the level one certification.”
John McQuillan, CEO of Triumvirate Environmental, who received a special award from BIDMC for Triumvirate’s partnership in the medical center’s green efforts, spoke highly of the sustainable work being accomplished at BIDMC.
“We work with over 350 hospitals from the Florida Keys to Quebec,” McQuillan said. “There is not one that we know of that’s more progressive and more committed to environmental responsibility that this hospital right here.”
Matlaw presented Nora Blake, Director, Food Services, with another special award for her leadership and motivation for sustainability initiatives. “Nora’s leadership revolves around helping people, sustaining the environment, and most of all, encouraging those around her to make a difference,” Matlaw said.
Leadership sentiments about BIDMC were echoed in the keynote address given by Gary Cohen, Co-Founder and President of Health Care Without Harm, and Practice Greenhealth, who was also awarded BIDMC’s community Green Champion Award. Cohen’s organization has been working with BIDMC since it began its Healthy Work/Healthy Home initiatives 15 years ago.
“Health care operates under a mission and ethical underpinning to do no harm,” Cohen said. “When we began collecting mercury thermometers and blood pressure cuffs here at BIDMC, we started a movement. BIDMC’s Mercury Awareness Day collected over 1,000 thermometers that were swapped for digital. Other hospitals in Boston picked up on the idea. Then, mercury-free pledges with the American Hospital Association were made. The sale of mercury eventually became banned city by city, pharmacy by pharmacy.”
Cohen described mercury as the “messenger” for environmental health and sustainability in health care. “It all started here at BIDMC,” he said. “We’ve built a global movement, and we’re really just getting started.”
Following the breakfast, staff shared different ideas and opportunities for improvement at the 2013 Environmental Action Fair. Groups such as Commute Works, provided by MASCO, reminded staff about greener commuter options; Sodexo educated staff about sustainable food systems; Save that Stuff gave away samples of compost, and Mass Save, which offers free home energy assessments, had posters on display and answered questions.
Another new addition to the fair this year was a demonstration of how indoor, home composting systems work. Maura Beaufait, Healthy Food Access Coordinator, Bowdoin Street Health Center, explained the steps of worm composting and the benefits to having a system setup indoors year-round.
Lastly, the Healthy Work/Healthy Home Environmental Action Fair would not be complete without giveaways and raffle prizes. Staff completed a questionnaire about their own green practices and walked away with a reusable, stainless steel BPA-free water bottle as a memento of the 15th anniversary event.
“It’s all about partnership and collaboration,” Matlaw said. “We have been doing this work for 15 years and have created a lens for how we look at daily practices and sustainable behavior in health care.”
Click here to read about this year's Evironmental Action Award Winners