The Importance of Sustainability in Health Care

Hospitals and health care centers are supposed to be the places where you feel safe. You breathe deeply and leave your muscles relaxed. But, does that mean that you become immune to health and other concerns in that place? Is your interaction with the environment and people there always healthy?

The aim of health care centers and hospitals is to help young and elderly, strong and weak. But, despite the promises and pure intentions, these places do not always walk the walk. Cancer is treated there, but harmful chemicals are found in the furniture and cleaning products. Heart conditions are dealt with, but fast food is served in the cafeteria.

Health care industry is the second highest energy consumer among all the sectors. Hospitals produce more than 30 pounds of waste per bed per day. Health care has to ensure good healthy practices within before patients could be effectively treated.

The Environment and Human Health

Climate change affects human health. The hazardous agents in the environment have the tendency to damage health of the public in more than one ways. Diarrhea and Pneumonia are very small examples of the diseases that can result due to lack of cleanliness. From skin cancer to severe lung diseases, there is a range of conditions that can occur by coming in contact with harmful chemicals or inhaling the air polluted with waste materials.

Think of it – it is quite possible that the health care facilities are affecting the health of the same people that they are committed to serve. Lack of environmental sustainability programs in health care does not help the cause in any way. Some hospitals, however, are making efforts to go green and emphasizing greatly on the sustainability programs.

Prevention

An effective health care program is one that does not only diagnose and treat the problem but also prevents it. Many disease prevention and wellness programs are now being carried out in numerous hospitals and other health care facilities. It is crucial to educate and aware the public on the importance of sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC educates parents on the connection between the environment and human health through prenatal classes and a program called “Baby Steps to Green Parenting”. There are tons of other examples as well.

Cost Savings

When you are implementing on the sustainability programs, you are actually reducing costs significantly. Improving energy efficiency, extending the life of the equipment, using less water and energy, preventing wastes and toxins – all of these activities cut costs. The more long term your plan is, the more long term cost savings you will be ensuring. Through ecological plans, it is possible to reduce your energy use by more than 20%, which means that annually a large amount of energy costs can be saved.

The provider of health care and the consumer, everyone has a role to play in ensuring environmental sustainability. Health treatments can actually be effective in a healthy environment only. Every sector, especially health care, has to consider its environmental impact and reduce its carbon foot print to combat the major global environmental issues.