Employee Education and Engagement

Sustainability Certification Program

We have developed a novel training program on health care sustainability that is customized for our hospitals’ frontline leaders. The program structure includes the following:

  • Didactic session on corporate sustainability followed by project-based learning
  • Review of the hospital’s strategic priorities
  • Selection of self-identified projects through multidisciplinary teams
  • Report-outs from project teams after several weeks
  • Judging of presentations by a leadership panel (including hospital president) and recognition of the “winning” team
  • Continued implementation of projects throughout the year

In 2013, the program was piloted at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center, and we hope to expand to all of our sites following evaluation of this pilot. Project topics included chemotherapy dose rounding, wellness-promoting workplace design, community outreach, employee fitness and wellness programs, and paper use reduction. Results of a post-program survey revealed universal satisfaction with the session, including content and format, with most participants citing sustainability as “very” applicable to their work. In 2014, we plan to improve training program content, select a second location to administer the training, and draft a systemwide rollout schedule for our remaining medical centers.

2013 “Eat Real Food” Photo Contest

2013 “Eat Real Food” Photo Contest

2013 Eat Real Food Photo Contest, Homegrown tomatoes, 1st place employee photo

University Hospitals Office of Sustainability hosted its second annual food photo contest for all University Hospitals employees to celebrate healthy, affordable, responsibly-grown food. Employees sent in photos that illustrate how they are incorporating real, unprocessed, locally grown food into their lives. Photos could be of a home garden or farm, a favorite home-cooked dish, a fun shot of a family cooking night, or anything else that involves healthy, local food. Winners were recognized on National Food Day, October 24.

Earth Day Celebrations

Earth Day Celebrations

Various annual celebrations took place on Earth Day across the system, including large employee fairs at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, St. John Medical Center and the Management Services Center (a nonclinical administrative building).

Sculptures made out of recyclable materials UH Ahuja Medical Center held a contest among its employees calling for department-based sculptures made out of recyclable materials as well as a recyclable material fashion show. Other events included hospital lobby educational fairs and symbolic tree plantings like the one pictured below at UH Richmond Medical Center.

Earth Day celebrationOur system also participated in an Earth Day celebration at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, where we launched the first Ohio car seat recycling program for expired and unused car seats. We also focused on healthy food procurement and on teaching kids about healthy and sustainably produced foods.


Sustainability Pledge

Our Office of Sustainability has developed an interactive and educational Sustainability Pledge available to UH employees and non-UH community members. Those who take the pledge show their commitment to becoming more environmentally, socially and economically responsible both at work and at home. It outlines several simple things one can do to make a positive impact in daily life, and all pledge points have a “learn more” link that further describes the environmental impact and first steps a person can take to fulfill the particular effort. We promote taking of the pledge during sustainability-related events, and those who participate are entered into a raffle for UH Appreciates Points which are redeemable for goods and services. Thus far, over 2,000 people have taken the pledge.

Green Health Heroes

In an effort to recognize employees who advance sustainability efforts, our Office of Sustainability continued its second year of Green Health Hero award programming. Green Health Heroes are peer-nominated employees of UH who champion sustainability above and beyond the call of duty. They take leadership roles in helping UH to advance environmental responsibility, promote health and wellness, and save money. Each Green Health Hero is interviewed and profiled on the external Greening UH web page, credited $50 worth of UH Appreciates points which can be used to purchase a wide variety of goods in an online store, and recognized in front of their peers and UH senior leadership at our annual employee sustainability celebration.

The Green Health Hero profiles available on the Greening UH external web page serve as great educational tools for other employees because they highlight efforts in a wide variety of sustainability focus areas. In 2013, 12 Green Health Heroes were recognized for efforts around novel car seat recycling programs, food waste elimination, patient food access education efforts, green team leadership, and even artistic reuse of waste materials generated at our facilities.

Meet a Green Health Hero

Meg Oberle, MDMeg Oberle, MD
Resident Physician PGY-2
UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital
UH Case Medical Center

Meg Oberle, MD is passionate about improving the health of her patients and their families by increasing access to fresh, local, and sustainably grown food. She has helped to pioneer a local food purchasing and education program, called Healthy Harvest, at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. Learn more about this Green Health Hero.

Zero-Waste Annual Sustainability Celebration

In December 2013, UH held its second annual, systemwide, year-end sustainability celebration to commemorate the great strides we have made in enhancing the health and wellness of our patients, employees and local community, and in stewardship of our natural environment. The event itself serves as a model for how to organize a “green” event, featuring zero waste, local food and green giveaways.

Highlights of the evening included locally sourced food prepared by one of our head chefs, an overview of our system’s sustainability successes, and awards presentations for our 2013 Green Health Heroes. The event was held at the top of Lerner Tower at UH Case Medical Center, overlooking the landscape of Greater Cleveland. The celebration was attended by senior leaders, directors and managers, and frontline workers alike.

America Recycles Day

America Recycles Day

UH celebrated America Recycles Day with announcements and tips for its employees, but also focused on its younger visitors and pediatric patients. A number of children’s activities were developed that highlighted the importance of recycling, including coloring and word search sheets. These sites were shared in our Family Resource Center and were also made available for download by any UH employee on the Greening UH intranet site.

October Energy Awareness Month

October Energy Awareness MonthIn October, educational resources focused on energy efficiency and ways to change behaviors to save energy were distributed widely across the system. UH Case Medical Center tied the topic of energy awareness to health and wellness by hosting a “use your own energy” stair climb up the 11-story Alfred and Norma Lerner Tower to the Barbara Peterson Ruhlman Conference Center. Winners were provided with refreshments and a pin at the top of the stairs.

Burning River Fest Boat Float on Lake Erie

UH participated in a community event called the Burning River Festival by building and racing a boat on Lake Erie that was made entirely out of recyclable materials found in the hospital setting. Green team members including nurses, safety officers, facilities managers and human resources representatives teamed up from both the Management Services Center (administrative building) and UH Case Medical Center to build and race the boat.

Sustainability Vignettes

The Office of Sustainability is developing a series of short video vignettes to illustrate the wide array of sustainability efforts taking place across the system. These vignettes are intended to introduce an interesting array of topics within health care sustainability, including greening the operating room, reducing food waste, making healthier food choices, healthier indoor environments and healthier commuting. All videos are available on our internal and external Greening UH websites and will be shown during our sustainability certificate program sessions. To view the videos now, visit our Greening UH home page and scroll to the media player in the middle of the page.

On-site Educational Monitors

Approximately a half dozen touch-screen displays were installed throughout several hospitals on the UH Case Medical Center campus in 2013. A featured section about the system’s sustainability priority areas is featured prominently on the home display, and follow-up information is provided once the sustainability “button” is touched. These monitors may be rolled out to other UH locations in 2014 and beyond as budgets allow.

Cleveland Taking Climate Action

The system’s sustainability manager and sustainability specialist were both interviewed in a promotional video featuring the newly released 2013 Cleveland Climate Action plan. Sustainability as a public health issue and the benefits of alternative transportation were discussed, among various other topics.

Employee Intranet Website

Greening UH Intranet WebsiteUH, like many health systems, has an intranet site to serve as a resource to all employees. We have developed a Greening UH intranet site, which underwent a design refresh in 2013 to reflect the challenge areas of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. On the site, employee-specific information about all sustainability initiatives, current events and useful resources are made available. The intranet site is an important and convenient resource to system sustainability council members, facility sustainability committees, department level green teams, and any interested employee in this multicampus health system. We also collect usage reports on each of the site’s subpages to get a better idea of what is most important to the site visitors.

External Community Website

We also provide high-level information about UH’s commitment to sustainability on an external website. It is on this site that people can find our Environmental Commitment Statement, our interactive Sustainability Pledge, and educational profiles of our Green Health Heroes. It is important to communicate our environmental commitment as a vital component of enhancing wellness to the communities we serve. In 2013, we refreshed the language on the website to reflect each challenge area of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative.

15 Environmental Excellence awards

UH received 15 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award, for our systemwide achievements in sustainability in 2013.