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At least three new hospitals or health systems have joined the Healthier Hospitals Initiative since the program’s launch last week. Now Boulder Community Hospital, Norwalk Hospital and Gunderson Lutheran Health System have joined eleven others that are leading the way with innovations.
President Gary Cohen of founding HHI organizer Health Care Without Harm says the effort is to reinvent hospitals as centers of community health. “We understand that it is getting more and more difficult to support healthy people on a sick planet. We have an epidemic of cancer, obesity, diabetes, asthma and other chronic diseases that threaten to overwhelm our entire health care system. A growing body of research confirms these diseases are linked to environmental exposures in our food, air, water and consumer products. From both an economic and public health perspective it is no longer viable to simply focus on treatment of chronic diseases which now account for 70 percent of all health care costs. We need to prevent them from happening in the first place.”
John Messervy of Partners HealthCare implores, “If a hospital’s fundamental commitment is to health then we have a unique obligation to be leaders in making positive environmental change. It means that the Hippocratic oath of do no harm extends beyond the operating room, the exam rooms, out to the communities that we are part of and that we serve.”
HHI is inviting every hospital in America to join in one or more core achievements. These include:
*Engage in leadership on environmental health and sustainability
*Serve healthier foods and beverages
*Reduce energy waste
*Reduce waste and recycle
*Use safer chemicals
*Purchase environmentally preferable products
HHI founders already have concrete examples to share of how reducing waste and updating purchasing strategies can save hospitals money. When new members join, they have free resources available from a team of health and environmental experts.
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