Going Green for Good

Exterior of Pearland Medical Center

HCA Healthcare’s environmental policies produce efficiency and savings

Environmental sustainability is an everyday focus at HCA Healthcare. It’s always a great time to talk about recycling, renewable energy and other eco-friendly policies, and HCA Healthcare is able to lead many of those conversations thanks to its longtime commitment to providing outstanding healthcare in the most sustainable fashion.

“We actively pursue sustainability and cost savings in many operational areas, from new construction meeting environmental goals, to purchasing and recycling programs,” says Anna Ward, HCA Healthcare’s sustainability manager. “We also focus on specific technologies, such as LED lighting and real-time energy metering. Our Sustainability Steering Committee develops strategies and, in partnership with our facilities, advances environmentally sound choices across our company. HCA Healthcare’s sustainability program is supported by our strong leadership, facility and individual involvement.”

Between 2012 and 2014 HCA Healthcare facilities recycled:

  • 119 million pounds of cardboard, paper, aluminum and wood waste
  • 58,977 pounds of rechargeable batteries
  • 229 million pounds of construction debris, an amount similar to more than 64,000 mid-size cars
  • And diverted 3.1 million pounds of waste from landfills by reprocessing single-use devices

HCA Healthcare’s CEO Milton Johnson says, “We have made great strides in implementing a sustainability program. Continued success depends on the support of everyone at our hospitals and other facilities.”

Committees with multiple goals

To keep the sustainable practices momentum going, HCA Healthcare has an active Sustainability Steering Committee headed by Alan Yuspeh, senior vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer. The steering committee, which was created in 2009, releases an annual HCA Healthcare Sustainability Plan, and has four task forces:

  • Construction and Major Renovation
  • Energy and Water
  • Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
  • Waste Stream

The Sustainability Steering Committee and the task forces collaborate with individuals from corporate, divisions and facilities. Every hospital has a sustainability coordinator who’s responsible for taking the annual plan and getting its components put into place on-site, as well as reporting back on problems or innovations that are found along the way.

One area where HCA Healthcare really shines is in new construction. Where practical, new hospitals, outpatient centers and other facilities are built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certifications, which is the standard to strive toward for green building.

To date, HCA Healthcare-spearheaded projects that have achieved or are in line for LEED certification include:

  • Corporate data center in Nashville
  • Medical Center Alliance in Dallas
  • The Reston Hospital Center Medical Office Building in Reston, Va.
  • Nashville’s Lentz Public Health Center (constructed by HCA Healthcare)
  • Pearland Hospital in Houston
  • Nashville Capital View, now under construction (future home of Sarah Cannon Research Institute and Parallon)
  • New hospitals in Texas and Florida

“There’s a lot in place already, and we are approaching every renovation and new build with the goal of being as environmentally sustainable as practical,” says Greg Stein, vice president, design and construction and chair of HCA Healthcare’s Construction and Major Renovation Task Force.

Another way HCA Healthcare is improving efficiency is through its Energy Service Center. The center monitors each hospital’s utility usage and spending, and works to make changes wherever possible to improve efficiency and lower costs. In some facilities energy usage can be monitored in real time, so the savings are immediate.

Where water-saving measures have been implemented, over 3,300 gallons of water is saved a year in each patient room.

“The success of any energy effort relies on building maintenance, facility managers, the Energy Service Center staff, energy conservation engineers and capital investment working together in our journey to deliver high performance buildings that use less energy,” explains Brian Weldy, vice president of FacilitiGroup Infrastructure Solutions and chair of HCA Healthcare’s Energy and Water Task Force.

Many types of waste disposal are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, yet that includes less than five percent of pharmaceutical waste generated at HCA Healthcare facilities. HCA Healthcare’s proactive pharmaceutical waste program reduces the drugs going into the water supply by at least 90 percent.

HCA Healthcare facilities can purchase environmentally friendly items. One example is a program to purchase and use FDA-approved reprocessed single-use devices. Options are also in place for purchase of reusable rather than disposable items.

Emergency entrance of Overland Park Regional Medical Center

Overland Park Regional Medical Center also has received awards for its waste reduction and conservation programs.

“As contracts are renewed, we seek to ensure that greener alternatives are available,” explains Missy Eslinger, director, supply expense management, HCA Healthcare corporate supply chain and chair of HCA Healthcare’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Task Force.

HCA Healthcare uses environmentally sound methods to dispose of waste such as hazardous, infectious and pharmaceutical wastes. The sustainability plan does not stop there. HCA Healthcare is a founding sponsor of the Greening the OR initiative, which seeks to decrease waste from operating rooms. Programs also exist for recycling and reprocessing medical equipment. In addition, all facilities have significantly reduced mercury-containing devices.

By moving to LED lighting in certain areas, last year HCA Healthcare reduced energy similar to the amount of electricity that would be consumed by watching television for about a decade.

“We work with our facilities, analyze data and constantly assess where our waste is going, to look for environmental and cost improvements. We set goals, perform waste audits and seek sustainable solutions,” says Ward, who is also chair of HCA Healthcare’s Waste Stream Task Force.

Exterior of Alaska Regional Hospital

Alaska Regional Hospital has won honors for its multiple sustainability projects.

Facilities have green partnerships

All HCA Healthcare facilities are members of Practice Greenhealth (PGH), a nonprofit organization working with the healthcare industry to provide environmental solutions and best practices. Each HCA Healthcare facility has the opportunity to apply for PGH Environmental Excellence Awards.

In 2015, these hospitals received a Partner Recognition or Partner for Change award for efforts with multiple sustainability projects including waste reduction and conservation:

  • Centerpoint Medical Center, Independence, Mo.
  • Parkland Medical Center, Derry, N.H.
  • Overland Park Regional Medical Center, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Lee’s Summit Medical Center, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
  • Specialty Hospital, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Alaska Regional Hospital, Anchorage, Alaska

A sustainable future

“HCA Healthcare has played a leadership role in environmental practices among healthcare companies,” Yuspeh says. “Our steering committee has representation from across the HCA Healthcare enterprise, and we work with sustainability concepts and innovations that are appropriate for our operations.” Yuspeh adds that HCA Healthcare will continue to assess projects and opportunities with an eye toward implementing new cost-effective environmentally friendly opportunities where appropriate. “We are motivated by seeking to do the right thing for our patients, employees and communities.”

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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