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4/20/2012 6:07:00 PM
Terre Haute Regional finds success with Healthier Hospitals Initiative
Healthier choices: Regional Hospital nutritional services aide Mary McKenzie places vegetables into a salad bar in preparation for the lunch hour at the hospital Thursday. Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza
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Healthier choices: Regional Hospital nutritional services aide Mary McKenzie places vegetables into a salad bar in preparation for the lunch hour at the hospital Thursday. Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza

Howard Greninger, Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute Regional Hospital, finishing its first year in the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, says it has lowered its energy consumption and reduced the volume of waste taken to landfills.

Don Sanders, Regional’s director of engineering and director of support services, said Thursday the hospital has experienced a 22-percent electricity cost savings from lower energy consumption.

“We are fine tuning all our [automated] controls on big power users such as our chillers and boilers, so we get peak use when we need it, but when not needed, we are trimming that back,” Sanders said.

That has resulted in a 13.8-percent power savings, a reduction of 1.3 million kilowatt hours last year, Sanders said. “That is enough to power 1,300 homes in Terre Haute,” he said.

Other savings include installing high-efficientcy lights. The hospital has about 10 percent of its more than 1,500 lights already replaced with high-efficiency and longer-use lights.

“We have also reduced our [natural] gas consumption by 7,370 mcf [thousand cubic feet] which means we could have heated 61 average homes in Terre Haute last year,” Sanders said.

The hospital also is using a one-stream disposal process. “The hurdle in health care is people are very busy at the point of disposal. Like nurses, it is a lot to ask for people to go to this bin or that bin.

“In a one-stream concept, anything that can be recycled goes in one Dumpster, everything else goes into a Dumpster for the landfill,” Sanders said.

And through an agreement with Sodexo, Regional is making a new food menu, using hospital dietitians to work with patient needs.

“We are offering more healthier choices,” said Mary Ann Conroy, Regional’s chief executive officer. “Obviously we want people to think more along the lines of what is right for their health. If you have it in front of you, at least you have to make a conscious decision.”

One major health issue, obesity, is something employers can help battle, Conroy said.

For example, Regional this week started a four-week stair-climbing challenge for its employees. “It is habitual exercise, which is not hard, but daily exercise,” Conroy said.

The challenge is to walk 1,500 steps to match the height of the 108-story Willis Tower or 5,700 steps to equal Mt. Rushmore’s height.

It requires walking 54 stairs seven days a week during the challenge for the Willis Tower and 204 stairs a day during the challenge period for Mt. Rushmore. Terre Haute Regional Hospital has 104 steps from its first floor to its sixth.

Regional’s owner, HCA, which has 163 hospitals and 109 free-standing surgery centers, started to implement HHI in 2010. HCA is one of HHI’s seven founding sponsor healthcare systems. That initiative has since grown to 11 influential U.S. health systems, comprising more than 475 hospitals with more than $20 billion in purchasing power.

One HCA recycling program reprocesses single-use medical devices such as ophthalmic knives, short-term spinal needles and nonelectric biopsy forceps. That effort saved the company $17.6 million in 2010 and $21.7 million in 2011. HCA reports it was also able to reduce its waste stream by 296 tons in 2010 and 364 tons in 2011.

HHI hopes to enroll at least 2,000 hospitals over the next three years to implement sustainable programs such as reducing energy usage, reducing waste, serving healthier foods and beverages, purchasiong environmentally preferable products and using safer chemicals.

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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