11th Annual Healthy Work Healthy Home Event
BIDMC Today: Humans Impact on the Environment Explored During Healthy Work/Healthy Home
The keynote speaker of the Healthy Work/Healthy Home Environmental Action Awards Breakfast had a simple, yet powerful message.
"If you see something that is environmentally destructive, say something," said Eric Chivian, MD, Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Psychiatry at BIDMC, and winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, in his address titled "How Human Health Depends on Nature."
The 11th annual Healthy Work/Healthy Home Environmental Awareness Day echoes Chivian's message by honoring staff who have identified ways to make BIDMC more environmentally friendly. The grand prize of $1,000 went to Paul Anderson, Operations, and Amy Lipman and Tanyah Gray of Capital Facilities and Engineering. The group developed a recycling program for used furniture and medical equipment. Instead of going to landfills, these items are donated to the United Way, saving the medical center the cost of storage, removal and disposal. This process also decreases the amount of landfill waste.
Lipman was just named BIDMC's first Environmental Sustainability Coordinator.
Second place and a $500 prize went to staff from Maintenance and Capital Facilities and Engineering for creating a program to improve indoor air quality through HVAC systems. Team Bright Lights included Tom Schnare, Nancy Marjollet, Dennis Ingram, David Flanagan, Kevin Barry and Mark Lukitsch. The new air handling units eliminate 99 percent of allergens and pathogens as well as save BIDMC $36,000 in utility costs.
A $250 prize and third place was awarded to a team of employees from Healthcare Associates and Facilities for opting to reupholster instead of replace 40 patient exam tables. A new patient exam table costs $1,200 and a new handicap accessible table costs $3,200. Reupholstering only costs $290, a significant cost savings and a reduction in waste.
Both the grand prize and second place winners decided to donate their monetary awards to the medical center. The $1,000 first place funds will go toward reupholstering three more beds. The $500 second place prize will be used to purchase and plant trees after parking spaces near the Kirstein building are removed.
Once the awards were announced, Chivian took to the podium sharing with the packed Leventhal Conference Room how his new book "Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity" links human survival to caring for the environment and the millions of species that inhabit the earth.
"Many people think that humans are separate from the environment and that a loss of a particular species would have no affect on us," Chivian said.
An example of this interconnectivity can be found by studying bees. Chivian said the overuse of pesticides in Nepal has led to the demise of bees used to pollinate apple trees. It now takes 25 people pollinating these trees by hand to do the work of these bees.
"We take the ecosystem's services for granted," Chivian said. "They've recreated the pollination process in Nepal, but there are many services you can't recreate."
Visitors to and staff of BIDMC learned more about what they can do to respect the environment during the Healthy Work/Healthy Home Environmental Action Fair immediately following the breakfast. Reusable grocery bags were available along with drop boxes for used batteries and old cell phones.
Ralph Fiore, Manager, Linens, had a display at the fair detailing BIDMC's linen usage for March of 2009. In that month alone, more than 76,500 sheets and 73,000 pillow cases were used. Fiore said he is using this information to stress the importance of not excessively stocking patient rooms with linens.
"Once the linens are brought into the patient's room, regardless of whether they are actually used or not, they have to be cleaned," Fiore said. "I am using this information to help floors determine their par levels so that they don't take more than they need."
Adam Mitchell from Save That Stuff said his company picks up the cardboard, scrap metal, paper, cans and bottles that BIDMC recycles. In 2008, the medical center recycled 585 tons, the carbon equivalent of removing 445 cars from the road each year, he said.
"It helps when you put statistics like these in terms that people can understand because they see how much of an impact recycling has," Mitchell said.