PeaceHealth Southwest honored with national environmental sustainability award

In recognition for its achievement and innovation in health care sustainability, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center has received the 2021 Environmental Excellence Awardfrom Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. PeaceHealth Southwest recently completed a four-month effort to baseline operations as they relate to the medical center’s sustainable-hospital strategy.

“This nationally recognized award is an exciting start for our organization that marks the beginning of a more formal sustainability journey,” said Brian Nelson, PeaceHealth Southwest’s Sustainability programs coordinator.

“Our commitment to sustainability and reducing the impact of our operations on our communities is something that each of us can help with,” said Chief Medical Officer and Sustainability executive champion Lawrence Neville, MD. “The biggest successes from our environmental program will come from the shift in our culture as we each look at how we fit into the care continuum and identify opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint while still taking great care of our patients.”

The Environmental Excellence Award recognizes health care facilities that continuously improve upon programs to address sustainable operations, reduce and recycle waste, lower energy and water use, source more sustainable products and more. Winning facilities have developed successful sustainability programs in a variety of different areas.

Working with Practice Greenhealth, PeaceHealth Southwest’s baseline worked to capture information for more than 1,300 data points across all areas on how we provide care to our patients including waste management, purchasing, food, energy, water, cleaning and sanitizing chemicals, and Operating Room operations.

“In the shifting health care landscape, a focus on sustainability can help build resilience while better protecting the health of patients and the community,” said Gary Cohen, Practice Greenhealth founder. “PeaceHealth Southwest demonstrates the kind of leadership, innovation and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices.”

One unique example comes from PeaceHealth Southwest’s Food & Nutrition Services Department, which has taken the “Cool Food Pledge,” a commitment for dining facilities – from hotels and restaurants to universities, schools, hospitals and workplace cafeterias – to cut their food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by increasing and improving their plant-forward menu options. PeaceHealth Southwest is embracing this science-based pledge for food-related GHG emissions reduction and to help build a bigger international movement.

Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start