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Facing “Green” challenges in Healthcare

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Neeta Rajwar, VP & Facility Director, Marengo Asia Hospital Gurugram, talks at length about the need to adopt green products, especially within a healthcare set up.

How do you ensure that the green products you use meet the standards of performance and reliability required in healthcare settings?

We need to follow these steps:

•     Before implementing any green product, hospitals conduct thorough research to assess its performance, reliability, and suitability for healthcare environments.

•    It is essential to verify that green products meet relevant industry standards and certifications, such as those related to safety, quality, and environmental sustainability.

•    Vendors and suppliers are evaluated to ensure they have a track record of providing high-quality, reliable products.

•    Green products undergo testing and validation to confirm their performance and reliability in healthcare settings. This may involve conducting in-house testing, collaborating with research institutions or independent laboratories, and seeking validation from regulatory agencies if required.

•    Hospitals may conduct clinical trials or pilot programs to evaluate the performance of green products in real-world healthcare settings.

The growing importance of green cleaning reflects a shift towards more sustainable practices in response to global environmental challenges and changing societal expectations. By prioritizing green cleaning, organizations can promote health & safety, reduce environmental impact, comply with regulations, enhance their reputation, and achieve long-term cost savings.

How can hospitals meet the specific regulatory or compliance hurdles?

By proactively addressing regulatory and compliance hurdles, leveraging available resources & expertise, and engaging stakeholders in the adoption of eco-friendly products & sustainable practices, hospitals can overcome challenges and advance their sustainability goals while improving patient care and reducing their environmental footprint

What are the main barriers a hospital encounters when striving to invest in greener alternatives or implement sustainable initiatives?

•     One of the main barriers to investing in greener alternatives or sustainable initiatives is the higher upfront capital costs associated with purchasing eco-friendly equipment, technologies, and infrastructure upgrades. Hospitals may face budget constraints that limit their ability to make significant investments in sustainability projects.

•     Hospitals may be hesitant to invest in green initiatives due to uncertainty about the return on investment and the time it takes to recoup initial costs. Without clear evidence of financial benefits, decision-makers may prioritize other capital projects with more immediate returns.

•     While greener alternatives or sustainable technologies may offer long-term cost savings, hospitals may be concerned about potential increases in operational and maintenance costs associated with new equipment or systems. Without adequate resources for ongoing maintenance and support, sustainability projects may fail to deliver the expected financial benefits.

•     Hospitals may face competing priorities for limited resources, making it challenging to allocate funding and staff time to sustainability initiatives.

Without sufficient support and alignment with organizational goals, sustainability projects may struggle to gain traction and secure the necessary resources for successful implementation.

Given the unique requirements and constraints within the healthcare industry, how do you balance sustainability goals with the necessity for clinical effectiveness and operational efficiency?

Yes, the balancing act includes:

•     Infection control and patient safety: Healthcare facilities must prioritize infection control and patient safety to prevent the spread of diseases and ensure optimal patient outcomes. Introducing sustainable practices or products that compromise infection control protocols or patient safety standards can pose significant risks.

•     Regulatory compliance: Hospitals are subject to stringent regulatory requirements and standards governing patient care, facility operations, and environmental safety.

•     Resource intensity of healthcare operations: Healthcare facilities are resource-intensive environments that consume large quantities of energy, water, and other resources to support clinical activities, medical equipment, and facility infrastructure.

•     Cost considerations: Hospitals operate within tight budget constraints and must prioritize investments that deliver the greatest value for patient care and operational performance.

•     Waste management and disposal: Generation of significant amounts of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, including medical waste, pharmaceuticals, and other materials requiring specialized handling and disposal procedures.

What are your strategies to integrate green products into existing healthcare practices?

To address current challenges, hospitals could consider collaborating with industry partners and sustainability experts to access resources, expertise, and best practices. It is essential to leverage available funding opportunities, incentives, and grants to support sustainability initiatives.

Advocating for policy changes and regulatory reforms that facilitate the adoption of green products and practices in healthcare settings is another strategy.

Another important step is engaging with patients and the local community to raise awareness about sustainability practices.

How do you engage and educate stakeholders within your organization, including staff and patients, about the benefits of green products?

The response to these engagements and education efforts may vary depending on factors such as organizational culture, staff demographics, patient populations, and the level of awareness and understanding about sustainability issues. However, by consistently communicating the benefits of green products, providing opportunities for learning and participation, and fostering a culture of sustainability, hospitals can cultivate a sense of ownership and commitment among stakeholders and drive positive change towards a more sustainable healthcare environment.

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