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More than 55 Hospitals Enlist in Green OR Movement

Launched just five months ago, the Greening the OR Initiative has been adopted by more than 55 hospitals and healthcare facilities in the United States.

Practice Greenhealth, which announced the initiative in May at this year's CleanMed conference, provided an update on the collaborative yesterday. Hospitals and medical centers from New York to California have signed on, including more than 40 in the Catholic Healthcare West systems in Arizona, California and Nevada.

The green OR effort is aimed at cutting waste in operating rooms, one of the more resource-intensive areas in a hospital. Citing figures from a recent study, Practice Greenhealth noted that:

  • As much as 56 percent of operating room budgets are for supplies. In comparison, operating salaries account for about 35 percent of OR budgets.
  • ORs generate about 20 to 30 percent of hospitals' total waste.
  • Much of the waste thrown out by ORs is disposed of as regulated medical waste even though a substantial portion of the material can be handled in nonregulated waste streams.
  • Disposal of regulated medical waste costs 10 to 15 times more than regular waste. Most operating room supplies are thrown out after one use even though reuse may be an option.

"The operating room is like another planet," said Dr. Noe Copley-Woods, an assistant professor in the Gynecologic Specialties Division of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's Magee-Women's Hospital.

"From the surgeon's perspective, objects magically appear and then disappear just as quickly," Copley-Woods said in a statement. "The surgeons joining this initiative realize this stuff has to come from somewhere, and go somewhere else."

In addition to the Catholic Heathcare West facilities, participants in the green OR collaborative include:


  • The Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, N.H.
  • Fairview Health Services, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Frankfort Regional Medical Center, Frankfort, Ky.
  • Frank R Howard Memorial Hospital, Willits, Calif.
  • Iowa Health System, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Lee's Summit Medical Center, Lee's Summit, Mo.
  • Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • MetroWest Medical Center, Natick, Mass.
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, New York, N.Y.
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, N.Y.
  • Providence Health & Services - Portland Service Area, Portland, Ore.
  • Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire, Wis.
  • Spectrum Butterworth Hospital, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • St. John Hospital & Medical Center, Detroit, Mich.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, Md.
  • VA Medical Center, Memphis, Tenn. coverage on work to green the healthcare industry includes articles about Kaiser Permanente's environmental scorecard for medical supplies, KP's solar initiative, priorities in supply spending, hospitals and IT, a study on energy efficiency from Johnson Controls Inc. and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering, a vision for high-performance hospitals, and Thera Kalmijn's pieces "Healthcare Heal Thy Footprint" and "Pharma and Medical Supply Leaders' Rx for Greener Operations."

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