UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, July 2013

UCSFMC Honored by Healthier Hospitals Initiative

AwardThe Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) is a nationwide group of more than 600 medical facilities that have pledged to make their operations more environmentally friendly.  HHI engages healthcare organizations across the country, supporting a shift to a more sustainable practices, such as healthier food, less waste, more efficient energy use and safer chemicals.

As recently highlighted in the San Francisco Chronicle, UCSan Francisco Medical Center was recognized by HHI for adopting the use of greener chemicals at the medical center.  The changes at UCSFMC include a switch to safer cleaning products.  For example, now for daily cleaning, UCSFMC uses non-alcohol, non-bleach wipes with chemicals that are generally considered gentler. 

According to Carl Solomon Sr., director of hospitality services at UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, bleach is only used to scrub out hard-to-kill bacteria in rooms where patients have checked out or where patients with infectious diseases are staying.  “Not only does the staff like it, but the patients and the nurses like it too,” Solomon said of the new wipes. “It’s much safer.”

Green SealUCSF also switched to nontoxic products approved by Green Seal, a third-party certification of sustainable products, to clean glass, carpets, upholstery, bathrooms and floors.  In addition, the floors of the patient-care areas at the Parnassus campus are slowly being renovated from vinyl, which periodically must be stripped and waxed or refinished to maintain its shine, to rubber, which only needs to be scrubbed with plain water and buffed with a cleaning pad.

UCSF cleaningTo clean all the floors, custodians now use microfiber mops that require less water and last twice as long as string mops. They use cleaning solutions with fewer volatile organic compounds, which create pollution when they are released into the air. Solomon said the patient areas at the new Mission Bay hospital, which is under construction, will also mostly be rubber.

HHI Commends UCSF

In the recent HHI 2012 Milestone Report, HHI commended UCSF for its adoption of “greener” chemicals. UCSF is highlighted as a success story on page 23 of the report:

“University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) recognizes the importance of making evidence-based decisions related to its environmental initiatives. So when the opportunity
arose to participate in a 2012 study focusing on the link between sterilants, disinfectants and adverse health effects in health care workers, UCSF Medical Center was eager to contribute its experience and expertise. As a result of the study, UCSF realized that harsh cleaners were impacting their air quality and worker safety, and set a goal of standardizing chemical use and
transitioning to safer, healthier cleaners where possible.”

Key Findings

Report CoverThe 2012 HHI Milestone Report paints a picture of an industry in motion as hospitals work together toward a vision of healthier patients and healthier communities, through healthier hospitals. The data in the report was collected from HHI-member hospitals in six key “Challenge” areas: Engaged Leadership, Healthier Food, Leaner Energy, Less Waste, Safer Chemicals, and Smarter Purchasing. 

The report highlights the overall accomplishments of over 500 hospitals with more than $20 billion in purchasing power.  Together, the cumulative impact of HHI programs includes:

· More than 50 million pounds of materials recycled, plus an additional 61.5 million pounds of construction and demolition waste, was kept out of landfills through reuse and recycling.

· About $32 million in savings from single-use medical device reprocessing.

· Nearly $9 million was spent on local/sustainable food options.

· Almost $19 million was spent on healthier, PVC/DEHP-free medical products.

Learn More

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative is offering a Webinar Sustaining the Gains with Control Plans
on July 23, 2013 from 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST.  It will focus on control plans, a six sigma tool to ensure that improvements are maintained over time.  Maintaining the gains from a sustainability project is often an “after thought” or not considered at all. Please send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to gain access to register UCSF members.