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Charleston VA wins environmental excellence award

Safety Service staff at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Photo by James Arrowood.
Safety Service staff at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Photo by James Arrowood.

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center was recently named as one of the top 25 Environmental Excellence Award winners by Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care.

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center was recently named as one of the top 25 Environmental Excellence Award winners by Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. Practice Greenhealth recognizes U.S. health care facilities that exemplify the highest standards in environmental practices.

The Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award is Practice Greenhealth’s highest honor for hospitals, recognizing it as one of the best of the best in health care environmental stewardship. Charleston VAMC is one of only eight VA medical centers selected into the top 25, that includes both community and VHA hospitals from across the country.

“In a shifting health care landscape, a focus on sustainability can help build resilience while better protecting the health of patients and the community,” said Gary Cohen, Practice Greenhealth founder. “The Ralph H. Johnson VAMC demonstrates the kind of leadership, innovation, and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices.”

Included in the Top 25 all around sustainability award, Charleston VAMC was honored with a Circle of Excellence Award in Leadership, highlighting its strong infrastructure that supports long-term commitment to healthier environments through leadership vision, committee structure, reporting, data tracking, communication and education. The medical center was also the recipient of the Greening the OR Recognition Award, recognizing the hospital’s substantial strides in improving environmental performance in the operating room.

“Sustainability is at the heart of our healing mission – and we’re proud to share that our sustainability strategies have won us national awards,” said Charleston VAMC Director Scott Isaacks.

In health care, sustainability means looking at how operations affect the health and safety of the environment as well as the health of patients, staff, visitors, and local community. Strategies to address sustainability at Charleston VAMC include minimizing and recycling waste, addressing chemicals of concern, lowering energy and water consumption, sourcing food and products sustainably, and establishing environmentally preferable purchasing criteria. Charleston VAMC understands that sustainability is essential to better care for Veterans, the community, and the planet. 

Charleston VA’s Green Environmental Management systems (GEMS) within the hospital’s Safety Service, is responsible for leading the facility’s sustainability efforts. They work with employees across the medical center to develop innovative initiatives that lead the way toward a healthier, more sustainable health care system to best serve the Veterans in their care today and to lay the groundwork for those Veterans who will be entrusted into their care in the future.

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