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Virginia hospitals reduce waste, save money

Hospitals in Virginia are reducing waste, improving the environment and saving money -- and people are noticing.


Hospitals in Virginia are reducing waste, improving the environment and saving money — and people are noticing.

In Richmond the Department of Environmental Quality, EPA, Sec. of Health & Human Resources, and Sec. of Natural Resources all praised Virginia healthcare facilities that are voluntarily reducing pollution and waste in the Virginia Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (VH2E) program.

"Virginia’s program has been so effective that we are holding it up as a model for other state programs," said Donald Welsh, regional EPA administrator.

Within the last year, healthcare facilities around Virginia have had significant success in reducing waste and eliminating pollutants. Sentara Williamsburg Community Hospital recently adopted a program that resulted in the removal of more than 40 pounds of mercury in the hospital. Twin County Regional Hospital in Galax has reduced its regulated medical waste by 67 percent, and the Lewis-Gale Medical Center in Salem reduced the amount of plastic it sends to the landfill by 10,000 pounds a year.

Healthcare facilities recognized at the event are volunteers in the Virginia Hospitals for a Healthy Environment partnership. DEQ and healthcare facilities work together to develop a plan to properly manage and dispose of waste and pollutants. Program members pledge to eliminate mercury, reduce waste and minimize the use of toxic substances. More than 50 healthcare facilities have joined.

"Our number one mission in healthcare is to help people," Virginia Sec. of Health and Human Resources Jane Woods said. "One way to accomplish our goal is to properly dispose of wastes and pollution that could otherwise pose a threat to human health."

The Virginia program, established in 2003, is based on the national Hospitals for a Healthy Environment initiative. The state and national programs work together to provide assistance, resources, awards and recognition to member facilities. More than 800 partner facilities and organizations have joined the national program since it began in 1998.

Visit www.deq.state.va.us/p2/vh2e for more information on Virginia’s Hospitals for a Healthy Environment, and www.h2e-online.org for the national program.

Contact Kelly Heekin, H2E Communications Coordinator, 202-234-9656 or kelly.heekin@h2e-online.org or
www.h2e-online.org


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