We are a diverse group of doctors specializing in various fields, united by a common interest: to commit to supporting and developing a sustainable and livable ecosystem for both the present and future generations. Our vision aligns with the principles of sustainability, emphasizing that healthcare should embrace this transition.
For the past 25 years, organizations in Latin America have been dedicated to addressing, advising, and researching ways to reduce the carbon footprint specifically within the hospital context. Notable efforts have been observed in countries such as Costa Rica, Brazil, and Colombia. In Argentina, sustainability practices have been adopted by some private hospitals, marking the initial strides in this direction. These initiatives often started with waste management and the digitization of complementary medical studies.
Historical data on local hospitals reveals the state of the 17,000 healthcare institutions (including public, private, and social security establishments) up to the present. These institutions often exhibit chaotic operations, reflecting a lack of long-term, comprehensive health policies and consistent funding. A manifestation of this problem is the frequent transfer of patients between different sectors, where medical personnel might be unaware of prior treatments or interventions. This leads to wasted time, squandered resources, and delayed diagnoses. Immediate solutions such as digitization and the establishment of an integrated network stand out as cost-effective remedies. However, these solutions must be implemented in buildings that, in many cases, are centuries old with infrastructures ill-suited for modern demands. In essence, healthcare delivery often falls short of optimal efficiency.
The hospital stands as a central point of shared concern, calling for innovative ideas and practical solutions tailored to our workplace.
What is a green hospital? A green hospital is defined as an institution that delivers "Health Without Harm" to the environment. Key facets of a green hospital include:
- Responsible management of resources (energy and water): This focuses on reducing the climate footprint in healthcare. Proper management of water and energy leads to financial savings at all levels. Common inefficiencies like open faucets and unnecessary lighting can be addressed through continuous sustainable management education. Effective resource management necessitates ongoing monitoring and cost comparisons.
- Implementing electromobility: Adopting this reduces harmful emissions and one's exposure to them. Energy conservation aligns with the broader aim of achieving zero emissions globally, accompanied by fiscal and economic advantages.
- Waste management and pollution reduction: The goals here are to minimize, treat, and safely dispose of hospital waste, which includes managing packaging, pharmaceuticals, and reducing toxic chemical usage. The ultimate goal is to enact tangible actions addressing climate concerns.
- Efficient purchases: This involves meeting hospital requirements with an eco-friendlier approach, encompassing the principle of green purchasing. Emphasis should be on safer, sustainable products and, when feasible, producing healthful foods sustainably (like through organic gardens).
- Biophilic building reform: This is the culmination of integrating the aforementioned concepts harmoniously with the surrounding environment.
Having delineated the challenges, it's imperative to generate tangible, dynamic solutions in tune with emerging sustainable practices. There's a pressing need for building reforms integrating biophilia, clean and renewable energy, resource conservation, reuse, and technology. This melds the concepts of a green hospital, sustainable hospital, smart hospital, and digital hospital, emphasizing "health-focused policies" rather than "policy-driven health."
In essence, a green hospital is efficient in its use of energy, water, and resources. Conclusively, the ethos of "Health Without Harm" should be the cornerstone of both current and future health agendas.
illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.