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Greening our Hospitals Will Reduce Healthcare Costs Now and in the Future

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By Al Iannuzzi Sr. Director Product Stewardship, WW Environment, Health & Safety

As I discussed in an earlier post, “greening” the healthcare system is a hot topic these days.  Healthcare facilities have a distinct and pivotal opportunity to improve their sustainability. To function and provide 24-hour services in the United States, hospitals require significant amounts of energy and water, and generate a lot of waste.   If they could reduce that waste, increase energy efficiency, purchase greener products and conserve water, hospitals could reduce their environmental impact significantly, lower overall costs and help improve the health of surrounding communities.

Because this is such a focus for hospitals – and a passion of mine -- I was honored to participate in a recent forum hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality on “Greening America’s Hospitals.” Helping manufacturers and the hospitals that buy our products find pathways to sustainability is critical for the families and patients who rely on our industry, the healthcare industry and our planet.   Based on our track record of environmentally-friendly business practices, which goes back more than 20 years , Johnson & Johnson has been honored by organizations such as Interbrand, Newsweek and Practice Greenhealth as a leader in sustainability.  Being chosen as the only supplier/manufacturer to participate in this panel was a thrill for me personally, but also a source of great professional pride because it shows that our commitment to being a greener company is recognized as a big part of what we stand for and value as a company.

In addition to sharing our perspective on green healthcare, I also learned a few from my fellow participants.  For example,

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid estimate that healthcare accounts for nearly 18% of spending in the U.S. economy and that number is growing.  That’s one of the big reasons our hospital customers are focusing on reducing their impacts – from waste and water use to phasing out the use of chemicals like mercury and PVC.
  • Some of the leading hospital CEOs are big supporters of this greening movement J. Knox Singleton of Inova Health System,  and Jeff Thompson, of MD, Gundersen Health System, reinforced the commitment  our customers have to sustainability and explained why  it is of strategic importance to them.
  • Our customers also are looking at sustainability as a key factor in selecting suppliers.  Kathy Gerwig, VP Workplace Safety and Environmental Stewardship Officer of Kaiser Permanente, spoke about their sustainability score card for suppliers, which they use to help make purchase decisions.

It was an honor and an educational experience for me to participate in this event.  But the most rewarding part was accepting congratulations for our company’s leadership in sustainability from customers, government officials and environmental groups.  It made me feel proud of all the work we have done to follow our Credo commitments and become a greener company.

To view the White House panel visit here.

To read more about Johnson & Johnson’s sustainability, visit here.

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