URBANA — As a mission-based organization, Mercy Health has a continued commitment to the health and wellbeing of the patients and communities it serves.
This includes a commitment to developing a sustainable culture through environmental stewardships and working with others to protect the environment and communities’ health now and for future generations.
Through efforts coordinated by a collaborative council of multi-disciplinary stakeholders across their ministry, Bon Secours Mercy Health (BSHM) implemented system-wide sustainable initiatives that earned environmental excellence awards form Practice Greenhealth, a leading sustainability member organization for hospital networks.
BSMH won the System for Change Award, which recognizes health systems that are working cohesively to set system-wide sustainability goals, track performance data, benchmark, and support intra-organizational learning and implementation within their institutions.
Major health system successes that led to the award include:
• Achieving system-level recycling at Practice Greenhealth’s median percentage; (BSMH’s average of 27% exceeds Practice Greenhealth’s target); At Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center, the hospital is working with Medline ReNewal and Johnson & Johnson to reduce waste by reprocessing surgical instruments and devices through the operating room. Medline also provides custom surgical packs that are specific to each procedure to help reduce outer packaging waste.
• BSMH eliminated the use of desflurane as an anesthetic gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because of this change, Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital avoided releasing 10.72 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent(s) into the atmosphere in 2021. This is the equivalent of 2.3 driven passenger vehicles driving 26,600 miles and using 1,206 gallons of gasoline.
“I feel very grateful that so many people across the ministry have helped to demonstrate our commitment to strengthening our connection to our mission through sustainability. Receiving such an abundance of accolades speaks volumes to the environmental stewardship within our culture. It is clear we are a ministry that diligently cares for our common home,” said Noah Dunlap, vice president of insights and innovation, Bon Secours Mercy Health and Advantus Health Partners, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bon Secours Mercy Health.
In total, 31 BSHM hospitals received recognition for their specific green initiatives from Practice Greenhealth, including Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital receiving the Partner for Change Award and Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center earning a Partner Recognition Award, though their sustainability efforts are just beginning.
In Spring of 2022, Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center began a composting program. The hospital says it fills around two dozen 50-gallon containers every month, reducing their trash output by five tons. There are also plans to put in a garden at the back of the hospital by Spring of 2023 that will be used to grow produce that can be utilized in the cafeteria, with any leftovers being donated to local food banks.
“In a shifting health care landscape, a focus on sustainability can help build resilience while better protecting the health of patients and the community,” said Practice Greenhouse Founder Gary Cohen. “Bon Secours Mercy Health and its hospitals demonstrate the kind of leadership, innovation, and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices.”