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By the nature of their work, it is no surprise that hospitals produce millions of tons of waste annually.
According to Practice Greenhealth, surgical departments are some of the worst offenders, producing up to 33 percent of total hospital waste. As institutions dedicated to making and keeping the population well, hospitals have begun to pay more attention to how they can curtail their waste and institute more environmentally friendly practices. Not only does adopting these practices help the environment, it also can have the added benefit of trimming costs and increasing employee engagement.
Dignity Health — the fifth largest health system in the nation, comprising 39 hospitals across California, Arizona and Nevada — has a long history of implementing innovative sustainability efforts, guided by the belief that a healthy environment leads to healthy people. As Dignity Health’s vice president of corporate responsibility, my role — and passion — is cultivating programs that will improve the experience of our employees and patients, and make a positive impact on the broader community and environment. In 2014, I had the opportunity to launch an extremely rewarding program: an effort to recycle our used sterilization wrap, a single-use product designed to maintain the sterility of surgical instruments until use in the operating room.