healthcare,” she acknowledged. “It is cer- tainly more of an actively focused initiative in the university setting, primarily as it is greatly driven by students who spend sev- eral years invested at the school. One might argue that in a hospital system, the demand from a similar population is not present as the guests are primarily transient and too short-term in nature to push the agenda. “From a staff perspective and having coordinated the implementation of some sustainability initiatives into the health system, I have found that staff member participation is generally fleeting at best, primarily due to the nature of their positions in many cases,” Crawford continued. “They are there to serve patients, provide care and save lives. Healthcare is a fast-paced industry and oftentimes initiatives such as this are on the back burner.” While Duke employs several persons with roles that help make Duke more sustain- able, according to Crawford, she oversees Duke’s green purchasing and supplier di- versity programs that impact sustainability initiatives.

“There is a different set of rules in this space as well which greatly impacts these initiatives,” she noted. “Patient safety comes first, which limits implementation and accessibility to simple processes such as composting, recycling, Styrofoam elimina- tion and green chemical product selection. Coupled with the premium to purchase many more sustainable items — although overall ROI might be increased — this is generally enough to intimidate those with some interest into shying away from mak- ing sustainability a priority.”

Pulling sustainability to the forefront of

competing priorities requires conscious effort and not doing it alone, according to Jeffrey Stoner, Purchased Services Admin- istrator, Dignity Health, Santa Cruz, CA. ”Balancing clinical, op- erational, contractual and business objectives is a challenging task on its own,” Stoner told HPN. “While sustainability is part of any contracting con- versation, it is infrequently

Jeffrey Stoner

a driving principle and can be easily over- shadowed. Sustainable purchasing activities are more likely to be adopted if they can positively impact other KPIs as well.” Stoner encourages reaching out to ven- dors. “Vendors play a critical role,” he added. “Those willing to partner with Dignity Health and our end-users to lend their expertise and help guide us to creative solutions that meet all of our mutual goals are positioned for success. We have seen success in starting small by making small

improvements to show proof of concept and create an avenue for further change.” (Editor’s Note: For example, read more about Dignity’s programs here: https://www.hpnon- Carrying a torch for sustainability initia- tives can be exhausting and frustrating, admits Steven Bergstrom, Director, Office of Sustainability, Intermountain Healthcare Supply Chain Center, Midvale, UT. “I think that you can reach a point of burnout when it seems everything you are trying to do is a constant battle and there doesn’t seem to be exec- utive support,” he said. “Setting reasonable and realistic goals and expecta-

Steven Bergstrom

tions will help as well as engaging executive sponsors from the start. It can’t be a one- man-show either so make sure to enlist as much help as possible. “Getting traction with caregivers is often hard because they are so busy and are not making the connection between sustain- ability and health issues,” Bergstrom added. Sister Mary Ellen Leciejewski, OP, Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Dignity Health, cautions against “short-term vision, lack of expertise in sustainability,” as well as allowing “very full plates” to prevent it from being an incentivized strategic issue, “not real-

Mary Ellen Leciejewski

izing that ‘business as usual’ is impacting our health.” Rochester, MN-based Mayo Clinic has established specific goals to become more eco-friendly, according to Bruce Mairose, Vice Chair, Supply Chain Management, Category Management.

“We have long had recy-

cling programs for plastics, paper and other products used in patient care,” Mai- rose noted. “Interest in this

Bruce Mairose

space is growing as part of a generational shift. Rather than having a specific step or checkbox to consider eco-friendly options it has to become, and needs to be, a part of the culture and way of doing business, not just another data point to consider.” Office supply retailer Staples maintains a

positive outlook on sustainability growth in healthcare over time.

“We see higher interest from healthcare, higher education, government, and larger corporations compared to other verticals,” said Jake Swenson, Di- rector of Sustainability, Staples. “Yet we also see that even within customers actively pursuing, there are definitely still barriers, including difficulty in deci- phering how to implement sustainability, confusion around navigating all of the ecolabels and claims, and getting organizational alignment to implement solutions.”

Jake Swenson

Igniting the spark Experts largely agree that no single solu- tion should or would increase interest in sustainability as a topic or an activity worth implementing. In fact, the GX-HPN survey found that senior leadership support and education offers the greatest value in driving sustain- ability influence (see Slide 2). Support from senior leadership attracted nearly 47 percent of responses, followed by education at more than 23 percent, the survey showed. To get more interest and engagement, sustainability needs to be easier for every- one to practice in their everyday lives, and there needs to be more alignment,” argued Staples’ Swenson. “In my experience, when sustainability objectives are built into how an organization wants to operate and how employees are evaluated and when specific criteria or standards are agreed upon to help drive sustainable outcomes (for example in procurement of products or services), organizations find creative ways to imple- ment solutions that financially work for the

SLIDE 2 — What would drive you to put more focus on sustainability initiatives in your hospital? (choose the one that would have the greatest influence)

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