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BLOG: The Balance ... the dance ... oops, was that your foot?

"May I have this dance?" versus dancing alone, in the dark!

Pushing for environmental improvement in the complex health care (or any) setting takes a special kind of person.  Most are passionate, firmly committed, enthusiastic and energetic. Pushy? Most likely! We want to get things done by any means necessary!  But, like Mick says,” You can’t always get what you want.” Doors shut, resistance ensues and some meetings may feel like a dog attack!

How do we find the balance between striving for more and maintaining good standing in the organization?

Much of what I have learned working in health care, I learned by doing the WRONG way.  At times, I’m afraid it resembled a dummy’s guide on how to step on important people’s toes! It helps if you’re young, just getting started and don’t know better, but that only works for so long.  What are your strategies for managing politics, people and resistance while pushing for change?   When is no really no versus a retreat, regroup and re-approach?

How do you leverage relationships, form new ones and get “resistors” on the team? 

Share you tips and your strategies that have worked – so we can help others get attention and make progress – in a good way – for the long term – with relationships, and jobs, intact.


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Submitted by on November 15, 2011 - 12:28 pm

Janet, Thanks for this blog. You certainly make me smile because you described me to a 'T' which confirms that we are not alone out here!! My passion gets the better of me often, and when I meet a lot of resistance I tend to not recognize the progress I've made and get a bit burnt out. Then I take a step back for my own peace. Funny thing is that in stepping back, I can now see more broadly that I have more allies than I appreciated--ones I did not see before, and ones I managed to win over! Now I feel re-vitalized to forge ahead again. Can one be both passionate and patient?

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Patience AND Patients
Submitted by on November 15, 2011 - 6:34 pm

Just a quick word that what we're doing is for the welfare and well being of our patients. That's the proverbial common denominator for communicating the need for green in healthcare. Look for conservation and sustainability presenting pathways toward better and safer patient care. And keep in mind that there is always a financial benefit. You may have to search for it; you may even have to alter your approach, but it's there. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Don't's a journey, not a destination. Best regards.

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Improving the health of our communities
Submitted by on November 17, 2011 - 4:46 pm

I agree with Scott - so much of what we do ties to the health of our patients. I often start explaining my role as a healthcare sustainability manager by saying "we know that environmental health is tied to human health...". Our mission is to "improve the health of the communities we serve" so sustainability fits nicely.

One word of advice is to take credit for the things you are already doing that are "green." Just because you can't eliminate blue wrap, or because you continue to purchase a disposable gown, doesn't mean you aren't already green in other ways. Remember those for the low times. :)

P.S. Preparing for the Practice Greenhealth awards are the best way I've found to keep track of our progress. It's work, but so worth it. -Crystal S., Fairview

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Many years of history, unimpeded by progress...
Submitted by on November 17, 2011 - 4:20 pm

OK, lots of progress, just not necessarily in some of the most basic functions. We have technology everywhere, state of the art implements for delivering the best healthcare, but what do we do with the stuff left over at the end of the day?
Ten years ago someone decided to recycle paper, in part to get rid of patient information safely, then cardboard, metal, glass, and four years ago plastic. In those four years of record keeping, we've recycled more than 8,000,000 pounds. That's saved between $500,000 and $1,000,000. It's a drop in the bucket relative to what we could do, but improvement happens slowly when a culture has to change. It's about a few people committing to the effort by recognizing the need, supporting the effort, educating the population, facilitating (i.e.making it as easy as possible), and rewarding. It's been small steps, very small steps. How much easier would it be if mandated from the top rather than pushed from the bottom, but that's how it's been. Now I have people voicing questions, comments, criticisms, and critiques to me every day, AND making suggestions of what more we could do. That's the best!

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