One aspect of hospital operations that is often overlooked is sustainability and waste management. On average, hospitals produce roughly 33 pounds of waste per patient per day in the United States.
That is an extraordinary amount, and North Valley Hospital has worked hard to combat waste production. Thanks to a committed sustainability team called the “Green Team,” and passionate staff that work hard to make waste reduction a priority, the hospital has created a proactive system for waste reduction. Sustainability and waste management are important issues in the Whitefish community and at the hospital. In honor of Earth Day in April, here are some highlights of the sustainability work at North Valley Hospital.
In 2016, North Valley Hospital diverted 46 percent of facility waste from the landfill. Most of this diversion is due to diligent recycling efforts throughout the hospital. The hospital is very grateful that most recycling pick up is done by a committed volunteer, who collects recyclables every week, therefore reducing the staff workload and helping the hospital to manage recycling. Additionally, some materials and products can be reused in various ways, which also reduces hospital waste.
The dietary department has made many efforts to reduce food container waste. Annually, the Valley Café uses over 24,000 mugs for beverages, which saves about 66 cups a day from going to the landfill. Also, more than 90 percent of meals in the café are served on china or with minimal waste. In addition, staff members work to reuse food waste by repurposing used fry oil for fuel and taking home food scraps for compost.
In April, the Green Team coordinates an “Eco Week” celebration that culminates in Earth Day. Eco Week at NVH this year will include information on recyclable materials and products at NVH with a departmental recycling challenge, specials in the Café featuring locally sustainable food, a bike/walk/carpool to work contest on social media, and providing a new outdoor green space for employees. Also, a group of employees will participate in the Clean the Fish event and pick up trash on the North Valley Hospital campus.
As an integral part of the community, North Valley Hospital is committed to making sustainability and waste management a priority. It is an organizational priority and one that is continually reevaluated and adapted for improvement. We hope you’ll join us this Earth Day by taking part in various sustainability initiatives to help keep our community a clean, beautiful place to live.
Allison Linville is the community relations coordinator at North Valley Hospital.