Community Medical Centers is more than Fresno County’s largest private employer and medical provider. We are also working to lead on environmental stewardship. For us, climate change adaptation and mitigation are more than just buzzwords—they represent our commitment to creating a healthier community. Being greener means being more efficient, using resources more prudently, and doing more while using less—all while providing quality patient care.
Recently, Community’s executive leadership approved a climate change resolution, which commits Community to continue our efforts to conserve resources, implement sustainable business practices, buy greener products, and improve our carbon footprint. It also commits us to educate our employees, patients, the medical community, elected leaders and the general public about potential adverse health effects of global climate change. This resolution is just one step of many we’ve taken to create a greener, healthier community.
In 2008, several Community employees coalesced to form an ad hoc “Green Team” to spread the word on how environmental health affects human health. It has grown and become the “Sustainability Value Analysis Team,” which meets monthly with hospital leaders to discuss ways we can reduce waste, recycle and integrate environmentally friendly practices into overall operations. Since then, Community has joined the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Workplace Charging Challenge,” becoming the first hospital system in California with free electric vehicle charging stations for staff at all our hospitals and corporate offices. The sustainability group also helped us reduce the waste we sent to landfills last year by more than a million pounds.
Sustainability includes investing in more vehicle charging stations for staff; integrating solar panels into our new construction; and switching all outdoor lights at Community Regional Medical Center to energy efficient LED bulbs. The LED bulbs alone use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs. And we boast an LEED Silver certified “green building” in the Deran Koligian Ambulatory Care Clinic on our downtown hospital campus. And sustainability includes little things like creating more bicycle storage and participating in the annual Bike to Work Week system-wide.
At the height of California’s historic drought we installed drought-tolerant landscaping at Clovis Community and became the City of Clovis’ largest user of recycled water for that landscaping. We also switched out faucets and toilets for water-saving models and put in water-efficient sterilizing equipment, which saves more than a million gallons of water annually.
In addition to facility improvements, we’re also looking for innovative solutions to recycle and conserve resources in the delivery of healthcare itself. This includes repurposing blue surgical towels, which are bought by a vendor and sterilized to reuse as cleaning cloths. This alone has resulted in the diversion of over 4,100 pounds of towels from landfills. We also have a recycling program that includes paper, office supplies, computer equipment and medical devices.
We recognize these sustainable practices are a critical step in tackling the biggest challenge of modern times, and we look forward to continuing to serve as a forward-thinking innovator on this important issue. We encourage you to visit Community At Work for more information about Community’s work in this arena.
By Krysta Collins ST, CRCST
Supervisor of Sterile Processing at Clovis Community Medical Center & leader of the Sustainability Value Analysis Team