Kudos to Kaiser for Environmental Excellence
August 14, 2014
It should come as no surprise that Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center ("Kaiser"), which serves many in Culver City and surrounding communities, continues to garner accolades, its latest being the prestigious Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth, the national membership organization for hospitals and health systems committed to environmentally responsible operations and care.
The award, in recognition of the significant strides Kaiser has made to reduce and divert waste by devising innovative ways of recycling and reusing common items found in the hospital, was presented in June in Cleveland at the annual CleanMed conference, a national environmental gathering for leaders in healthcare sustainability.
"We are proud to partner with Kaiser Permanente in its commitment to protecting the health of the environment and the communities it serves," said Gary Cohen, president and founder of Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm.
That consistent dedication is impressively reflected in the 203 Environmental Excellence Awards earned by several Kaiser Permanente facilities throughout the years, stemming from the inception of Practice Greenleaf's s program in 2002.
"The organization has worked consistently to support sustainable practices in health care and these awards recognize its outstanding achievements," Cohen added.
And by managing to divert 32 percent of its waste that would otherwise have gone to local landfills, Kaiser's achievement last year was clearly impressive, marking one of its most significant environmental accomplishments to date. But the hospital is not resting on its laurels and is working toward an even more ambitious goal for 2015 – diverting 40 percent of its waste, 30 percent of which comes from its operating room and includes blue wrap (material designed to wrap surgical instruments prior to sterilization), saline bottles, plastics and cardboard.
Kathy Murrell, Kaiser's director of Environmental Health and Safety and co-chair of its Green Team, described some of the methods implemented regarding items that traditionally had been discarded after one use.
"We launder our gowns rather than buy disposable ones and we now reuse the blue wrap which transports sterile medical instruments," she said. "These efforts have made a huge impact on reducing the waste we send to our landfills."
"This award demonstrates that we are doing our best to reduce our impact on the environment," said Karina Maher, M.D., a pediatrician and co-chair of the Green Team, who highlighted a health benefit of which patients may not be aware. "Our patients see the obvious ways we take care of their health – through doctor appointments and preventative screenings – but offering a healthy environment also plays a big role in their health in ways they can't always see," she said.
For example, in keeping with its policy of incorporating practices that embody environmental awareness and patient safety, Kaiser, which had previously determined to purchase safer materials, source sustainable food and eliminate toxins such as DEHP and PVC from many of its medical supplies, recently announced it will stop buying flame-retardant furniture that is treated with chemicals that have been linked to cancer, reproductive disorders and brain damage in children, among other ills.
Noteworthy recognitions accorded Kaiser extend well beyond its environmental accomplishments.
According to U.S. News & World Report's 2014-15 Best Hospitals in America rankings, published July 15, 2014, Kaiser was listed among the top U.S. hospitals for gastroenterology and GI surgery, geriatrics and orthopedics.
"This recognition of our specialty care is directly attributable to our team of dedicated physicians, nurses, clinicians and care teams who excel in proactive prevention of illness, early detection of disease and better treatment of chronic conditions," said Georgina Garcia, Kaiser's executive director. "Our performance in this year's U.S. News & World Report ratings reflects our continued commitment to high-quality care and achieving the best outcomes for our patients."
Almost 5,000 hospitals are evaluated to establish the annual rankings. Statewide, at 42nd out of 440 hospitals, Kaiser was in the top 10 percent of Best Hospitals in California.
Additionally, in 2013 the National Committee for Quality Assurance recognized 22 Kaiser clinicians for high-quality care in diabetes and heart/stroke cases. Kaiser also received the Gold Seal of Approval 2012-2014 from the Joint Commission, which has accredited hospitals for more than 50 years. Its standards are among the most rigorous in the industry, and its Gold Seal of Approval requires compliance with standards for quality, safety of care, and other accreditation requirements.
The Hospital Safety Score, calculated under the guidance of The Leapfrog Group's Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, uses 28 measures of publicly available safety data to produce a single "A" to "F" score designed to give consumers information prior to hospitalization. Per an April, 2014 announcement, for the second consecutive year all 14 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California earned an "A" grade for patient safety.
Also included in several general Kaiser Permanente laudatory notices are the four-star rating reflected in California's Annual Clinical-Quality Report Card (State of California, Office of the Patient Advocate), as well as having the highest member satisfaction among commercial health plans in California for seven years in a row (J.D. Power & Associates).
Comments reflective of such satisfaction from Kaiser's patients and/or their family members include a letter from J. Young, M.D., who is not affiliated with Kaiser.
Dr. Young, the daughter of a patient who had hip replacement surgery at the West Los Angeles facility, wrote Kaiser that she "flew down to Los Angeles to help my parents post-op, and had the opportunity to see a well coordinated home health program in action. I was amazed by the professional, compassionate and courteous services provided by everyone on the team."
Being acknowledged for environmental excellence, safety, quality care, high expertise in various specialties and continuing member satisfaction, Kaiser can also include recognition by grateful family members of its patients in its growing array of accolades – all business as usual for this facility.