Trina Galbraith — If you’re a nurse, you should know that the ANA, or American Nurses Association, is supporting a new initiative called the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. The three-year plan consists of ways to improve the health and safety of patients and employees, encourage the reduction of waste, conserve energy, increase recycling and the use of environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and to introduce healthier food and drinks. Here’s how the initiative will benefit you in your job:
1. Healthier Food
You don’t have to be a medical professional to know that you should eat as healthy as possible. If you’ve been working in a hospital setting, you know just how unhealthy cafeteria food can really be. The healthy foods portion of the initiative offers three challenges to clinics and hospitals. The balanced menu challenge asks hospitals to decrease the amount of meat that is purchased by 20 percent over a three-year period. The healthy beverages challenge asks hospitals to increase the purchase of healthy beverages by 20 percent over a three-year period. Finally, the local/sustainable food challenge asks hospitals to increase food purchases from local markets by 20 percent.
2. Leaner Energy
The extraordinary amount of energy used by hospitals and clinics causes a negative impact on everyone’s health by increasing air pollution. These pollutants contribute to respiratory problems and, in the worst cases, death. Over a five year period, hospital energy costs climbed 56 percent and totaled eight percent of the nation’s energy consumption. The initiative asks hospitals to decrease weather-adjusted energy consumption by as must as ten percent. If the hospital is already ENERGY STAR certified, the goal is to maintain certification.
3. Less Waste
Because waste can lead to the pollution of air, land and water, it has a tremendous impact on the health of the community. Most hospitals generate a staggering 26 pounds of waste on a daily basis for every staffed bed in their facility. In total, health systems are responsible for producing 11.7 thousand tons of daily waste. Mercury released from incinerators and pharmaceuticals in drinking water is a very real concern in our nation. The initiative challenges hospitals, in part, to increase their rate of recycling by a total of 15 percent when compared to the total amount of waste that they produce.
4. Safer Chemicals
When it comes to hospitals, sterilized rooms can actually do more harm than good. The chemicals used in the cleaners used by most health care facilities are actually harmful. These chemicals can lead to asthma, cancer, birth defects and other medical issues. The Healthier Hospitals Initiative asks health care facilities to increase their purchase of Green Seal or EcoLogo certified cleaning products to 90 percent, eliminate DEHP/PVC from a single product line and to eliminate the purchase of furnishings that contain PVC, halogenated flame retardants and formaldehyde.
When hospitals follow this initiative, they not only create a healthier environment for their patients, but they create a healthier work environment for their staff. As a nurse, you know how important it is to maintain a healthy environment. If your hospital has decided to adopt and follow the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, you can rest assured that you will soon be working in one of the healthiest hospitals in the country.
About the Author
Trina Galbraith is a full-time writer for higher ed blogs and journals nationwide. Several degrees are available in the health field, including University of Southern California Health Degree and University of California, Berkeley Health Degree.