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CleanMed 2015 Conference Gives Health Care Leaders the Knowledge and Means to Use Sustainability to Improve the Patient Experience, Environmental, Population and Financial Health

(Reston, Va.)— CleanMed, the nation’s premier national environmental conference for leaders in health care sustainability, marked its twelfth conference last week by drawing over a thousand attendees to Portland, Oregon to discuss best practices and preview innovative new technologies, products and services. CleanMed is convened and organized jointly each year by long-time sustainability organizations, Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH).

With sixty-eight educational sessions, workshops, tours and events over the course of four days, attendees were provided with the opportunity to discuss health care’s most pressing sustainability challenges: reducing energy and water use; environmentally preferred purchasing of products, services and food, reducing toxics and chemicals of concern in health care facilities   and waste reduction and management. Many of the educational sessions focused on how sustainability can help drive hospital and health care company efforts to meet the “Triple Aim” of improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of health care.

“There are strong and definitive connections between human health, environmental health, and financial health, but managing those connections to drive improvement in all three is not always apparent.” said Jeffrey Brown, Executive Director of Practice Greenhealth. “Those institutions leading the transformation of health care toward a more sustainable model were here at CleanMed and inspired and equipped us all with knowledge and practical approaches to get measurable results in all three of these priority areas.”

Major gains and action among leading hospitals and systems working with Practice Greenhealth and HCWH this year include:

Reductions in energy use and waste continue to drive cost savings. U.S. hospitals emit 8 percent of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and create 28.4 lbs. of waste per hospital bed per day. Reducing the energy use in hospitals and increasing recycling and re-use are paramount to improving the sector’s environmental footprint. In 2014 reporting hospitals:

  • Reduced energy use equivalent to avoiding 73,600 metric tons of CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing 15,600 vehicles from U.S. roads.
  • Recycled 122,000 tons of waste, and 68.4 percent (270 of 395) or met or surpassed the 15 percent goal of recycling as a percentage of all waste, with an average recycling rate of 26.3 percent.

Removing "chemicals of concern" from facilitiesincluding using safer cleaning products, no longer using interior finishes and furniture that create exposure risks for patients and staff, and buying medical products such as IV bags that are made with safer chemicals. Medical products suppliers are also working with Practice Greenhealth and HCWH to provide safer products as part of the hospital supply chain.

  • 172 hospitals reported making at least one product line DEHP- and PVC-free in 2014.
  • There was an 11.2 percent increase in spend on certified cleaning chemicals compared to total spend from 2013 to 2014.
  • In 2014, 18 hospitals reported that an average of 59.8 percent of furnishings purchased that year were free of the targeted chemicals of concern.
  • Fourteen hospitals met the goal of purchasing more than 25 percent of healthy furnishings.

Serving more local and sustainable food. Serving healthier, locally-sourced and more sustainable food continues to be an area of major focus among leading institutions. Many hospitals are starting to address the link between unhealthy food and chronic disease (including obesity, diabetes and heart disease) by improving the food served in their cafeterias and to patients.

  • There was a decrease in the average amount of meat served per meal from an average of 0.115 lbs. per meal in 2013 down to 0.103 lbs. per meal in 2014.
  • Forty-eight hospitals increased their healthy beverage purchases, with many phasing out soda and diet soda for healthier alternatives like 100 percent fruit juice and promoting access to tap water.
  • 115 hospitals spent $35,805,740 on local and sustainable food in 2014, and 64 percent (74 hospitals) purchased at least 15 percent local and sustainable food.

Practice Greenhealth also held its annual Environmental Excellence Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner, which brought CleanMed to a close. More than 430 awards were given for leadership in sustainability at the individual, facility and health system level. Practice Greenhealth announced the winners of its 2015 Environmental Excellence Awards and the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Awards as well as honoring Jeffrey Thompson, CEO of Gunderson Health System with the first-ever Visionary Leader Award for helping Gunderson achieve broad sustainability excellence including becoming the first net-zero energy health system in the United States.

The conference also included an exhibition hall featuring dozens of companies and organizations providing health care products and services. Major sponsors included host sponsor Philips, leadership sponsor Johnson & Johnson and green sponsor Kaiser Permanente.

CleanMed 2015 experience sponsors include ASSA ABLOY, B. Braun, BD, Crothall Health, EPEAT, Gojo, Morrison Healthcare, Novation, Premier, Providence,  Rubicon, Stericycle, Sterilmed, Stryker Sustainability Solutions, Tarkett, Touchpoint, and VHA.

Media sponsors include ACE Summit and Reverse Expo, Empoweractive, Health Forum, IDN Summit, NFMT High-Performance Buildings, Oregon PSR, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, and Medical Waste Management Magazine.

Planning for CleanMed 2016 is already underway.  The conference will be held May 17-19 next year at the Omni Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas.

For more information on health care sustainability, visit


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