Environmental Partnerships and Initiatives
Twelve of the largest U.S. health systems collaborated with environmental advocacy groups to create the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, a national campaign to improve environmental health and sustainability in the health care sector. It offer comprehensive guidance for hospitals to reduce energy and waste, choose safer and less toxic products, and purchase and serve healthier foods.
Over the past century, humans have introduced a large number of chemical substances into the environment. Some are useful but many are toxic and their harm to the environment and our health must be considered and mitigated. Dignity Health is engaged on several fronts to prevent dangerous chemicals from entering our care centers and waste streams.
Mercury Free Hospitals
Mercury is a naturally occurring element historically used in products such as thermometers and light bulbs. However, mercury exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system of people of all ages. Since 2001, our hospitals have been virtually mercury-free and have organized thermometer exchange programs in their communities to help remove this substance from the waste stream.
DEHP, also known as di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, is a compound used as a plasticizer (softener) in many products made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, including some medical devices. The FDA believes that young critically ill male infants with prolonged exposure to DEHP-containing devices may be at risk of abnormal development of the reproductive system. Dignity Health is the first major delivery network to take a strong position on the use of PVC/DEHP-free products. With this effort we are eliminating approximately 840 tons of toxic material from the patient care setting.
Chemical Footprint Project
The Chemical Footprint Project is an initiative for measuring corporate progress to safer chemicals. It provides a metric for benchmarking companies as they select safer alternatives and reduce their use of chemicals of high concern. Dignity Health is working with Clean Production Action to pilot a tool that measures corporate progress toward safer chemicals.
Dignity Health is the first hospital system to commit to voluntarily measure, reduce, and report emissions of greenhouse gases. It does so as a member of the Climate Registry, a non-profit that assists businesses and organizations in measuring, verifying and reporting the carbon in their operations in order to manage and reduce it.