Respect for the environment begins with respect for our workspaces and our colleagues. In today's high-pressure, cost-conscious health care environment, it can be very difficult to maintain a healthy, safe and nurturing workspace. But a little effort goes a long way in terms of staff morale and patient satisfaction.
Physicians who are remodeling their offices or building new clinics have a big opportunity to make a positive environmental impact by carefully selecting eco-friendly building materials. Even in existing facilities, small changes like installing low-flush toilets or using energy-saving light bulbs can have big effects over time.
The health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has created a lot of headaches for physicians, not the least of which is how to dispose of paperwork containing confidential patient information in an environmentally conscious way. Janet Brown, our medical environmentalist, provides some thoughts.
By reducing the number of toxic solvents used in daily practice, and shifting to safer, eco-friendly disinfectant compounds, medical clinics can greatly reduce the amount of toxic chemicals they put into the environment.
Janet Brown, Holistic Primary Care's resident medical environmentalist, recently moved from Beth Israel Hospital in New York, to the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment Project, a non-profit group that helps hospitals and clinics get right with Mother Nature. In the transition, she ponders the challenges of medical environmentalism and the progress made over the last decade.
Ants, flies, roaches and other creepy crawlers are very unwelcome guests in health care facilities. But highly toxic pesticides are not the best way to get rid of them, especially given what we know about the health consequences of many common insecticides. A look at less-toxic alternatives.
Would you like your hospital or medical clinic to be healthier, less toxic, and more environmentally conscious? Don't be afraid to dream, because a number of new organizations and websites are providing practical, how-to information to make those dreams a reality.
Over the last 5 years, health care leaders have begun to recognize the value of making their facilities more earth-friendly. Successful projects abound, and resources for "greening" health care have never been more available.
We all know, in theory, what makes for a healthy environment and why we should care about environmental issues. But it all becomes much more personal and tangible if you get yourself outside and participate in outdoor recreational activities. Your own health will improve, you'll better understand the specific eco-issues in your community, and you'll be better able to educate your patients by setting a good example.
As an industry, health care uses 515 trillion BTUs of energy annually. That's 9% of the country's total energy consumption, and 85% of the energy consumed is petroleum-based. That's not exactly healthy. But a growing number of concerned physicians are making real efforts to simplify, conserve and reduce.