Where do hospitalists and other physicians fit into the green team picture? “There are hospitalists [who] get the relationships between their hospital[s] and the environment,” says Daubach-Larsen. “They can be ambassadors for that message.”
While green team leadership tends to fall on hospital operations staff, physicians can provide tremendous support simply by advocating with hospital leadership. “Executive sponsorship is key,” says Daubach-Larsen. “And physicians have a direct line to management. They can communicate that their satisfaction in the organization would be improved if that organization took an interest in the environment.”
Brannen says that physicians are “often the hardest community to reach” when spreading the message of environmentally friendly changes. “They can advocate or they can pitch in; having them in a leadership role is best, particularly if they have clout.”
Leciejewski recommends that hospitalists get involved in specific efforts. “We know that PVC (polyvinyl chloride )/DEHP (di[2-ethylhexyl]phthalate) IV bags are a known carcinogen, especially for preemies,” she says. “Doctors can support changing to different products or bring new products to our attention. They can write letters to [the companies we purchase from].”
Has your hospital made a commitment to reduce waste or otherwise reduce its footprint on the environment? If not, consider recommending a green team to start with some easy changes that can make a difference—and join the growing number of hospitals and healthcare workers committed to healing the environment.
“By collaborating, we can make a difference,” says Leciejewski. “Restoring the earth depends on us coming together as a community.” TH
Jane Jerrard is a frequent contributor to The Hospitalist.