Air quality is very important in hospitals. Many patients have asthma and other lung conditions that can be irritated by chemicals, making “green” cleaners a great choice for hospitals. Many hospitals are making the switch including Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City.
Paul Moreillon, Mercy Health Center’s manager of environmental services says that “The Sisters of Mercy have long emphasized the motto, “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” In that spirit, Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City launched a hospital wide recycling program last fall and over the past several years we’ve been looking at ways the hospital can go greener. Changing to green chemicals was a part of that effort.”
Some hospitals may worry about how well the green cleaners will clean. Moreillion says “We had a difficult time finding a “green” window cleaner that performed well. Initially, some of our housekeepers complained about the way the chemical made their windows and mirrors look. We listened to input and finally we found a “green” chemical substitute that everyone liked.”
Another issue can be getting the staff on board with the idea. When asked if the staff liked the change Moreillion said “Yes, but like all change, there’s always a little resistance at first. Our housekeepers were very loyal to the old cleaning products. The more they use the new “green” chemicals, the more they like them. “
He also points out one of the reasons it’s so important for hospitals to look into “green “ cleaners, “By going green with our cleaning chemicals, we provide our patients and our co-workers with the healthiest environment to breathe. “
Mercy’s commitment to the environment doesn’t stop at “green” cleaners. Here is a list of some of the things they have done.
1. Mercy has switched from Styrofoam plates, bowls, cups, and take-out containers to a 100 percent biodegradable product (and when you consider that on any given month, Mercy uses 5,500 plates, 6,000 bowls and 10,000 take-out containers, the change is a major relief to our local landfill).
2. New paper towel dispensers have been installed in all public restrooms in the main hospital. With the change from rolls of paper towels to precut paper dispensers, Mercy has already seen a 30-percent reduction in paper usage.
3. Mercy has reduced landscape watering by more than 30 percent by watering on an as-needed basis.
4. Mercy’s hospital-wide recycling program is underway with 350 blue bins located throughout the main hospital for both co-workers and visitors to toss bottles and cans.
5. More than 20,000 pounds of Mercy’s cardboard is recycled each month.
6. All nursing departments use online minutes and agendas for meetings in an effort to be paperless.
7. Nursing units recycle a large volume of disinfecting wipe containers, as well as large plastic bottles of sterile water and irrigation saline solution.
8. Mercy has eliminated 99.9 percent of plastic water bottle usage.
9. Mercy recently began recycling oxygen sensors and leg pressure sleeves that are normally land filled but are now sterility remanufactured through a national company which allows Mercy to maintain high patient safety standards. By recycling sensors and sleeves, Mercy will save $70,000 annually.
10. Mercy has employed a full-time recycling technician to coordinate recycling efforts.
And they aren’t stopping there! Moreillion says “We are piloting new timed light switches to see if they can cut down on electricity usage in low traffic areas throughout the hospital. We are also looking at our paper towel contract, hoping to switch to a brown paper towel.”
Hospitals can have a huge impact on our environment and hospitals like Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City are helping to lead the way to a healthier, cleaner, and better environment. Take a few moments to contact your local hospital and ask them to make some of the changes Mercy has made.
Photos are courtesy of Mercy Health Center.