In the grand scheme of things, the Green Healthcare Model is a relatively new initiative in the medical industry, with only about 20 years under its belt. In short, it’s taking the ideas of green living and sustainable practices into healthcare and patient services.
Green living is of utmost importance to many people today. At home, many practice recycling, reuse products and have solar panels on their roofs. Of course, there are many other practices that tens of thousands of Americans use every year to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and protect the planet. However, when they come to a clinic or a hospital, these living techniques often go out the window. While some environmentally friendly techniques are simply impossible in a health care setting, there are some things you can do as a practitioner to build a more environmentally friendly practice and to bring green living to your bedside care.
Ask about Reprocessing Programs
Many of the items you use daily at your patients’ bedsides are disposable to ease your workload and to help keep necessary items safe and sterile. However, ask about how your organization can participate in a reprocessing program that collects single-use items from patient rooms to repurpose, sterilize or otherwise use again.
Opt for Safe Cleaning Solutions
While you are working so hard to stabilize your patients and help them recover from a health scare or from surgery, you may be surprised to learn that some of the cleaning products your organization uses are downright harmful. Many of them create noxious fumes that are difficult to breathe and that can even be harmful for pregnant women and other fragile populations. Instead, opt for Green Seal-certified cleaning products, and never use soaps made with triclosan.
Stop Your Own Waste
Even if you cannot control every practitioner on your unit, you can still reduce your own waste during bedside care. Do not throw away half-used personal care products. Be sure to open up only those sterile packages that you are sure you will need. Use as few towels and cloths as possible when cleansing patients. Opt for multi-use rather than single-use products whenever possible.
Work for Green Practices in your Health Care Organization
If your health care facility is bogged down by red tape and regulations that do not allow you to make any green changes on your own, you don’t have to give up altogether. Instead, join teams that look at ways to improve facility practices. There you will be able to work for real changes that will eventually trickle down to bedside care.
Educate Patients on Preventative Care
Much health care waste comes from patients who are critically ill and who require lengthy hospital stays with numerous in-depth treatments. By educating your patients on how they can prevent disease, you can stop future waste from happening.
Traditionally, the entire health care industry has been a huge environmental polluter. Between the amount of water and electricity wasted in some facilities along with the waste from one-time-use-only products, health care organizations of all types have long been flooding the earth with chemical pollution, medical waste and cleaning solution runoff. Not only does this pollution harm the world, but also it can be downright dangerous for patients and caregivers.
By bringing a green medical practice to your patient’s bedside as much as you possibly can, you are reaffirming your dedication to protecting the earth for generations to come and are also being sensitive to the needs and concerns of your patients. This helps you become a more compassionate medical provider.