Medical center recognized for outstanding 'green' practices

Todd Holland/Stanford Hospital & Clinics Dana Gonzalez and Krisanne Hanson

Stanford Hospital nurse Dana Gonzalez (left) and Krisanne Hanson, the medical center’s director of sustainability, display wrappings from medical devices and materials that are now recycled from the Stanford Hospital operating rooms.

Stanford University Medical Center’s long list of green initiatives has been awarded a special honor by the health-care industry’s nationally-recognized leader in environmentally responsible operations.

Practice Greenhealth named Stanford a Partner for Change with Distinction May 2 while marking its 10th anniversary at its CleanMed12 national conference. Practice Greenhealth’s Environmental Excellence Award designates accomplishments in environmental performance and dedication to high standards of sustainability. The medical center was among 44 health-care facilities nationwide to win the award this year.

“Everyone has a responsibility to use resources wisely and prudently,” said Wesley Palmquist, the medical center’s vice president of general services. “On a corporate level, that’s magnified. Where we can exert control over our resource use, we should, putting into practice green health. We take every opportunity we can to reuse, recycle and repurpose.”

Stanford received its first national award two years ago; this year’s award reflects an increased degree of resource savings. “A big part of our program expansion has been through great education and training,” said Jerry Maki, Stanford Hospital & Clinics’ vice president of clinical services. “People do want to be conscious of what is hazardous and what is not. This has really been an employee-led effort.”

The medical center has a long tradition of attention paid to resource conservation. In 2003, it was one of 17 founding hospital systems nationwide to receive a Making Medicine Mercury-free award from Practice Greenhealth, then known as Hospitals for a Healthy Environment.

For more than 30 years, the medical center’s recycling program has processed paper, beverage containers and cardboard. Both Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have signed the Healthy Food and Healthy Beverages in Health Care pledge through Healthcare Without Harm. Food waste is now composted in both the adult and children’s hospital cafeterias and kitchens. The hospitals switched from Styrofoam to paper cups for patient use.

Another example of Stanford Hospital’s effort to improve sustainability pracitices can be found in its operating rooms, which typically generate 20 to 30 percent of a hospital’s total waste. In 2004, the hospital began to convert the containers it uses for the disposal of needles and other sharp objects to ones made of recyclable and reusable plastic. In 2005, it converted to reusable suction canisters in its Ambulatory Surgery center. The switch was so successful that it purchased 25 more such units for the main operating room.

The hospitals also have taken large steps to reduce overall energy and water use by simple methods like installing sensor-activated light switches, moderating temperatures according to room use, switching to more energy-efficient bulbs and installing low-flow toilets.

Sara Wykes is a writer in the communications office at Stanford Hospital & Clinics.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

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