VA hospital recognized for environmental excellence

The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain has earned the prominent Greenhealth Emerald Award from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. (Submitted photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — In recognition for its effort in sustainability and environmental stewardship, the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain received the Greenhealth Emerald Award from Practice Greenhealth, a national organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care.

The award is one of the Environmental Excellence Awards given each year to honor environmental achievements in the health care sector, according to a release from the hospital.

The Greenhealth Emerald Award recognizes health care facilities that are setting the standard in eliminating mercury, reducing and recycling waste, sustainable sourcing and other areas, the release states.

Winning hospitals have demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability and shown leadership in the local community and in the health care sector, the release said.

The VA medical center undertook some significant environmental efforts that led to this achievement. These include recycling 253 tons, or 59 percent, of the solid waste generated by the medical center; reducing overall hazardous waste disposal by 35 percent; recycling approximately 263 tons, or 45 percent, of construction and demolition waste; and diverting 1.33 tons of plastic annually from the landfill by switching to reusable sharps containers.

“We believe that a clean and sustainable health care facility has a positive impact on the health and well-being of our patients, employees and … community,” Jim Rice, medical center director, said in the release. “The credit goes to our employees who take sustainability of resources to heart and make these programs effective.”

The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center annually serves over 20,000 Veterans in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin. Over 96 percent of its patients are considered rural or highly rural making the medical center the most rural in the VA health care system.

Practice Greenhealth is dedicated to transforming health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice.

To learn more about Practice Greenhealth, visit www.practicegreenhealth.org.