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May 10, 2011 > Washington Hospital Receives Prestigious National Environmental Award

Washington Hospital Receives Prestigious National Environmental Award

Washington Hospital recognizes the critical link between the health of each individual and the health of the environment. In recognition of their efforts, the hospital recently earned two Environmental Excellence Awards from Practice Greenhealth, a national organization for healthcare institutions that have made a commitment to environmentally responsible practices.

The "Partner for Change Award" and "Making Mercury Free Award" were presented in recognition of Washington Hospital's achievements in developing programs to prevent pollution, reduce and recycle solid waste, eliminate mercury, reduce water and energy consumption and establish "green" purchasing policies.

"We worked very hard to earn this award and are honored to receive this recognition for the second consecutive year," says Paul Kelley, a Certified Biomedical Electronics Technician and Chair of Washington Hospital's "Green Team" Committee. "Only 245 institutions in the nation received this award, which is a very slim percentage of the many healthcare organizations around the country."

Over the last several years, Washington Hospital has taken many steps to improve its environmental footprint by implementing a number of green initiatives throughout the organization. Some of Washington Hospital's most notable environmental accomplishments during 2010 and so far this year include:

* Reduced usage of bottled water by replacing 5-gallon dispensers with filtered tap water in employee break rooms wherever possible.
* Implemented re-useable sharps containers hospital-wide, which is expected to eliminate sending 9.1 tons of plastic to the landfill.
* Purchased micro-fiber mops that save water, reduce bacteria and reduce use of toxic cleaning chemicals.
* Successfully completed requirements for minimizing and documenting remaining Mercury on site and applied for PGH Making Mercury Medicine Free Award.
* Conserved energy and produced significant dollar savings by using CFLs in place of incandescent bulbs on the construction site for the new energy plant.
* Replaced refrigeration condensers which will save 1.3 -1.4 million gallons of water per year for a cost savings exceeding $30,000 annually.
* Implemented a medication take-back program for the public which allows people to drop off un-used medications.
* Participated on EPEAT (Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool), committee developing new IEEE standards for more environmentally friendly electronics.
* Made changes to paper towel dispensers in bathrooms to reduce accidental waste.
* Organized a "Zero Waste" event for hospital employees where no trash containers where available. All event refuse was recycled or composted.
* Participated in annual Fremont Festival of the Arts booth for two days, educating the public with respect to WHHS Green Initiative and promoting the importance of sustainability to the community.
* Received 2010 StopWaste Business Efficiency award for outstanding achievement in waste reduction and environmental performance.
* Increased and improved recycling efforts to educate employees in importance of recycling and proper categorization of waste versus recyclables.

Washington Hospital is also taking a leading role in helping to educate our community about environmentally responsible practices. In April, the hospital partnered with the City of Fremont to host its second annual "Let's Go Green Together" community event. The Earth Day expo drew more than 1,000 people and featured an exhibition hall with more than 50 booths for local agencies and vendors to showcase how to reduce, re-use, and recycle at home and at the workplace.

"We're truly committed to continuing our efforts to educate our staff and the community on ways to reduce our environmental impact, as well as to decrease our use of paper, increase recycling and minimize the use of bottled water," adds Kelley. "Both the Partner for Change and Making Mercury Medicine Awards help validate what we are doing."

For more information about Washington Hospital's efforts to reduce its impact on the environment, or to submit suggestions for future improvements, visit us online at www.whhs.com/green.

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