Being successful at sustainability is as much about community organizing as it is about operational prowess. In this Green Line Series, we speak with GoGreen NYC speaker and Corporate Sustainability Officer at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Jessica Prata, on how engaging the organization’s staff across departments — from the OR to nurses stations and maintenance — and giving them outlets to participate in NYP’s sustainable practices has catalyzed their capacity for achievement.
Jessica Prata: As health providers, hospitals are very central to the community. We have a responsibility to provide the healthiest environment that we can for our staff and patients. We also want to create a very safe environment for staff and families to be in, and for patients to heal in, so that’s where the tie comes in for us.
At a glance, some may not immediately see the connection between environmental sustainability and healthcare. How does recycling and waste management, energy production, efficiency and cogeneration, and transportation fleets connect to caring for patients in the best way we can? In fact proper management in these areas does impact our organization’s ability to provide the highest quality of patient care in a clean and safe environment. If you consider the broad impact that a hospital has in a community, you recognize how these sustainability initiatives contribute to our overall air quality and environmental footprint. Also, the more money we save by managing resources and waste more effectively, the more money we have to spend on creating the best patient experience possible. The dots do connect.
At NYP, we want to keep our patients as healthy as we can and provide tremendous care, all while doing the right thing in the community. We are members of and promote Practice Green Health, a nonprofit organization that gives support and guidance to hospitals as they embark on this journey.
GG: What was the process for making sustainability a part of your strategic vision and plan for how NYP moves forward as an organization?
JP: Back in 2005, there was a good amount of movement within our facilities department. A lot of initiatives started there as a part of a very aggressive energy management plan. And 2005 is the year we received our first award from the EPA — we’ve since received seven. Then NYP’s senior leadership started to question what other elements of sustainability could be addressed. Energy is a huge component that helps us save money and control our environmental impact, but we felt there was more to take on.