Healthcare Sustainability Blog Series

Part 1 of 4: Assessment

Nicole Chardoul
RRS Vice President

Today we introduce the idea of an initial wellness check-up of your sustainability program. Whether you are new to sustainability or you’ve had a program in place for several years, it is a good idea to do a routine check-up to review your program’s goals and priorities for the coming year.

Your program may incorporate any or all of the following topics: safety and compliance, energy and water efficiencies, zero-waste realization including chemical waste minimization, recycling, composting and/or green procurement. The benefits of a sustainability program go beyond environmental impact and touch on aspects such as leadership involvement, positive community impact, and bottom line improvement.

Your annual wellness check, also known as a program assessment, is a time to look back on the previous year and review your existing program’s accomplishments and gaps. You can do this through data collection, observation, and using a checklist that captures and measures key indicators of compliance, safety, cost, and environmental impact. Setting goals and objectives around each of these parameters, and then reassessing and reestablishing new goals each year will get you not only closer to your goals, but on the road to continuous improvement.

From the annual assessment, you have the opportunity to create a report of your findings that you can share with your green team, hospital leadership, and the safety and compliance committee. Once you have established your goals and objectives as well as your key indicators checklist, this assessment becomes a routine aspect of your sustainability program and the foundation for hospital- and corporate-level operations.

At a large healthcare system in the Midwest, these annual assessments are used to track program achievements. The results become part of their Joint Commission Environment of Care (EOC) annual effectiveness report and inform new goals and priorities that become part of their annual plan.

The EOC is one aspect of a sustainability program that relates to the building or space, equipment, and people. A good program assessment can point to areas of success and areas that need improvement.

Next in the Healthcare Sustainability blog series: Planning.