HealthTrust has made environmental stewardship a priority by participating in the Healthier Hospitals (HH) Healthy Interiors (HI) initiative, a program of Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth. To meet HI’s 2.0 goal, hospitals have to ensure that 30 percent of their annual furniture and furnishings purchases (based on cost) are HI-compliant products, free of hazardous chemicals.
As part of the Safer Chemicals Challenge, the HI 2.0 initiative eliminates the use of all flame retardants, formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and antimicrobials in non-medical furniture and furnishings.
“HealthTrust is committed to the HI initiative as we contract for products in the furniture and furnishings category,” says Mike Arredondo, director of Strategic Sourcing at HealthTrust. “The Safer Chemicals Challenge is a priority for many of our members so it’s also a priority for us.”
According to an HH fact sheet, the purpose of the HI initiative is to: “Promote public and environmental health and help accelerate the transformation of the furnishings market to safer products, while also reducing disposal costs and liability.”
All HealthTrust manufacturers and distributors offer furniture that meets HI requirements, says Vanessa Perutelli, portfolio manager of Strategic Sourcing at HealthTrust. “Our suppliers will consult with members at no additional charge to help them meet the guidelines when making purchasing decisions.”
The following HealthTrust members are making strides in fulfilling HI goals:
Hackensack University Medical Center, a member of Hackensack Meridian Health
Located in Hackensack, New Jersey, HackensackUMC decided to purchase HI-compliant products when it remodeled its patient lounges.
“As a hospital, we shouldn’t be exposing our patients to any harmful chemicals,” says Kyle Tafuri, senior sustainability advisor. “Toxins like flame retardants can cause long-term negative reactions, and we don’t think they should be in furniture at all. We try to eliminate these kinds of exposures, so with something as simple as furniture, it’s a no-brainer to purchase safe furnishings.”
Tafuri is passionate about the importance of supporting the Healthy Interiors initiative. “It’s easy to get behind because it uses purchasing power to make a real difference in the health of the community, which is the hospital’s mission,” he says. “Many chemicals on the market are directly linked to chronic diseases that we are trying to prevent. The healthcare industry can use its dollars to drive the market to produce healthier furniture.”
HackensackUMC has been able to save money purchasing HI-compliant furniture from Staples Business Advantage, a HealthTrust supplier. “The choice was good for our patients, and it saved money,” Tafuri says.
Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS), with facilities in Wisconsin and Illinois, is also “heavily invested in sustainability and environmental projects,” says Rick Beckler, director of environment. HSHS has purchased HI-compliant furniture from HealthTrust suppliers Herman Miller, Staples, Synergy and Interior Design Services (IDS).
In the Housekeeping/Environmental Services department, the system has moved from chemical-heavy to more green-based cleaning products, too. “We put these environmental stipulations right in the contract,” Beckler says. “It helps all of our employees understand that we’re serious about making progress with our sustainability efforts.”
Holy Cross Health
Holy Cross Health opened a new hospital in Germantown, Maryland, in October 2014 that joins another in nearby Silver Spring. “Since we were starting from the ground up, we decided it was a good time to begin more environmental initiatives,” says John Baltosiewich, director of Supply Chain Sustainability. “We purchased most of our furniture from HealthTrust suppliers IDS and Herman Miller with environmental ratings on them in terms of the chemicals, paints and post-consumer recycled content that were used in their manufacturing.”
While the hospital in Germantown was under construction, a new patient tower was also being built at the Silver Spring location, whose environmental efforts up to then didn’t extend much beyond yard trash and bottle recycling, Baltosiewich says. “We switched to purchasing furniture and other products that fall in line with HI.”
Holy Cross Health is thrilled with its HI-compliant furniture. “It looks great,” says Baltosiewich. “It’s just as durable and comfortable. We purchased the furniture for our intensive care unit and our cardiac intensive care unit, and the infection control people are very happy with it.”
Does HI-compliant Furniture Cost Less?
The cost of HI-compliant furniture is often comparable to that of “non-green” furniture. But since HealthTrust contracts cover many distributors, brands and manufacturers, pricing “depends on variables, such as availability, volume sold and any new technology utilized,” Perutelli says.
In instances when HI-compliant products are more expensive, Baltosiewich adds, they’re worth the extra cost because they meet his hospital’s broader sustainability goals.
For its part, HealthTrust is “trying to proactively push HI-compliant products and make sure they’re easily identifiable and available to our members,” Arredondo says. “Greater access and availability will drive down prices and make these products more cost-effective for everyone.”
Buying HI-compliant products is not only beneficial for the environment, but “it’s also a marketing tool we can use,” Baltosiewich says. “Holy Cross Germantown Hospital is LEED Gold Certified, and we’re working on getting additional LEED Gold certification for the products we use, which will help us stand out in our community as environmentally conscious.”
When considering HI-compliant furniture, start by connecting with HealthTrust. “Sit down with the Strategic Sourcing team,” Beckler says. “They can point you to contracts in its Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program. HealthTrust has a very engaged and accommodating sustainability group (its Environmental Sustainability Network) to help research new products.”