Safer Chemicals and Greener Purchasing

Clean air and water are essential to a healthy life


Meet Karen, a passionate green team member and purchasing contract manager working with outside vendors that supply UH with goods and services. In 2015, Karen’s incredible persistence in communicating with suppliers and internal stakeholders helped UH to make great strides in Healthy Interiors purchasing efforts that protect patients and employees by eliminating potentially harmful chemicals from furniture and building materials.

Greener chemicals purchasing momentum in 2015

  • Enhanced commitment to buying furniture free of harmful flame-retardant chemicals, a goal that was established in September 2014, through collaboration with vendors, facilities and construction services staff, and fire safety officials.
  • Purchase of green cleaning chemicals in the areas of all-purpose, glass, bathroom and carpet.
  • Improved vendor engagement around the systemwide goal of purchasing furniture and medical products free of DEHP, PVC, formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds and flame retardants.
  • Audits for Integrated Pest Management and Green Landscaping best practices that decrease or eliminate chemical use were conducted in Spring 2015 for UH Case Medical Center, in collaboration with other University Circle institutions, local philanthropists and nonprofit organizations.
Healthy Interiors Purchases and UH Green Cleaner Purchases in 2015
Marc Visnick

Meet Marc, an insightful manager from the Department of Engineering Services. Marc has worked to improve his hospital’s landscaping practice from a conventional one using synthetic chemicals to one using organic materials free of chemicals of concern. This approach reduces chemical pollution in storm-water runoff, positively impacting patient, employee and public health as well as the integrity of our region’s water system. Throughout 2015, nonchemical organic applications were used at UH Case Medical Center, and training for in-house staff is expanding in 2016.

Mercury Elimination Progress

Mercury inventories continue to be taken at each medical center, annually, with the most common sources of mercury being fluorescent light bulbs (called lamps), many of which have been targeted to be retrofitted to LEDs, and boiler plate switch mechanisms. Mercury management and hazardous spill policies continue to reduce and ensure the safe handling of these few mercury-containing devices.

Facility Highlight: UH Parma Medical Center

UH Parma Medical Center was recognized by Practice Greenhealth as a Making Medicine Mercury Free hospital in 2015, joining UH Case Medical Center, UH Ahuja, Bedford, Conneaut, Geauga, Geneva and Richmond medical centers in achieving this milestone.

National collaboration on market transformative purchases

UH’s 2015 participation in a national sustainable health care Safer Chemicals Market Transformation Group resulted in peer sharing of research and resources related to eliminating antimicrobials in furniture, furnishings and building materials as well as best business practices for implementing flame-retardant-free purchases in a safe and effective manner.

Single Use Device reprocessing

Reprocessed single use devices (SUDs) offer the opportunity for both cost savings through lower pricing and diversion from landfills as devices are increasingly collected to satisfy the growing demand for these products. Purchases of reprocessed SUDs nearly doubled in 2015 compared to 2014 at three UH medical centers, resulting in large cost savings associated with those purchases versus purchasing original manufacturer devices. Significant purchase savings for UH continues to be an available opportunity that is being explored through supply chain as we work nationally with a peer-purchasing group hosted through Practice Greenhealth that engages equipment suppliers, group purchasing organizations and hospital supply chain leaders, as well as sustainability leaders, in addressing barriers to reprocessed device purchasing.

Surgical kit review

UH works with its core surgical supply vendor to review surgical kits on an ongoing basis, with 46 percent of kits being reviewed in 2015.

Facility Highlight: UH Ahuja Medical Center

A new, distributor-based surgical kit reformulation program was piloted at UH Ahuja Medical Center in late 2015. This pilot program model moves the surgical case cart picking from a hospital internal process over to staff at the locally based distributor’s integrated service center, targeting a more efficient case cart pick process. The program aims to provide UH with better visibility into the supplies used during a procedure and what may no longer be needed, allowing for surgeon preference card right-sizing, standardization and the potential for supply waste elimination.

2015 Progress Report on Sustainability

2015 Progress Report on Sustainability

View the online report or download the summary. You can also view our archived progress reports here.

13 Environmental Excellence awards

UH earned 13 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award. The awards recognize our health system’s achievements in environmental-sustainability programs and improvements during 2015.

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