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Integrating Environmental and Human Health

“Sustainable health care is a work in progress. While virtually everyone recognizes the need for the industry to reduce its considerable impact on the environment, sustainability is rarely a high priority among decision makers at U.S. hospitals. There is so much short-term uncertainty and financial pressure in the industry today that it’s hard for many administrators and supply chain managers to focus on what seem to be secondary, long-term issues. However, according to Practice Greenhealth, a nonprofit focused on environmental solutions for the health care sector, sustainability doesn’t have to cost more. A 2012 study sponsored by Health Care Without Harm and the Healthier Hospitals Initiative projected that savings from green initiatives could exceed $5.4 billion over five years, and $15 billion over 10 years. Hospitals, for instance, run energy bills of $1 million to $3 million annually, and the low-hanging fruit to cut costs is plentiful and readily available today. What’s more, many green strategies — from healthier food in American hospitals to greener buildings that can reduce the toxic chemical load at U.S. health care facilities — have profound benefits for patients.”


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