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Promoting Sustainable Health Care

The President of Health Care Without Harm discusses the Healthier Hospitals Initiative's campaign to promote sustainability in hospitals and health care facilities across the country
Health Care Without Harm President Gary Cohen

Health Care Without Harm President and Founder Gary Cohen speaks during a panel discussion at the White House event on Sustainability and the Health Care Industry (White House Council on Environmental Quality)

Imagine energy efficient hospitals that save money on energy bills to use for critical patient care, and that promote renewable energy as a community health and resilience strategy. Imagine hospitals that create healthy food environments to help address the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in our country. Imagine hospitals that lead society in reducing toxic chemical exposures , and that are reducing their waste, saving money and improving patient care at the same time. Imagine a health care system that redefines “community benefit” to include improving the living conditions of communities that hospitals serve, and focusing on the prevention of disease through environmental health in addition to treatment. Imagine a health care system that makes up over 20 percent of the U.S. economy and becomes the driving force for safer products, cleaner energy, and healthier communities.

This vision is what the Healthier Hospital Initiative is bringing to reality today and is proud to share with the Obama Administration at the White House event on Health Care and Sustainability. We have created a roadmap for hospitals to embed sustainability into their core business model and are providing technical assistance to offer every hospital in America the chance to participate for free. Health Care Without Harm has joined with our sister organization Practice Greenhealth, The Center for Health Design and 11 of the largest hospital systems in America to create the Healthier Hospital Initiative and drive this movement in health care for healthier hospitals. We already have the participation of more than 600 hospitals and we aim to recruit 2,000 overall and track the progress of the sector in achieving our goals.

This initiative is about accelerating the adoption of sustainable practices across the spectrum of American health care, and building a global learning community so hospitals around the world can learn from each other as they travel on the path toward healthier people, healthier communities and a healthier planet. Health Care Without Harm is proud to be a sponsor of the Healthier Hospital Initiative and eager to embed environmental health and sustainability into the way that health care does business.

Gary Cohen is President and Founder of Health Care Without Harm