Global Care Starts with You

Stewardship fosters a culture where every person – from provider to facility manager, CEO to system office associate – understands that being good stewards of our resources is a fundamental responsibility at Ascension.

  • The Environmental Stewardship Program aligns with the Ascension Mission as care for the environment often has the greatest effect on people who are poor and vulnerable. The program improves Ascension’s reputation and serves Corporate Social Responsibility as well as Community Benefit. It aids in employee recruitment and retention as prospective associates consider a company’s environmental practices when choosing where to work.
  • Sustainability programs save money and create value. Cost avoidance has been documented in the energy efficiency and medical device reprocessing programs – two initiatives currently tracked in the Environmental Stewardship Program.
  • Environmental stewardship activities have a direct impact on health outcomes. Energy efficiency projects reduce fossil fuel consumption, which in turn lowers power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide and mercury, based on US EPA analysis. This reduces health impacts from premature deaths, chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks and emergency room visits.

The Environmental Stewardship Program started in 2008 with a focus on energy efficiency. Medxcel tracks energy use at all sites of care and has demonstrated that from July 2008 through June 2018, our acute care facilities achieved energy use reductions of 29.2 percent, $61.9 million in cost avoidance and 1,521,650 tons reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. In 2012, Ascension became a founding partner in the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge with a goal to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2020 across our hospitals – and we met the goal three years early. Medxcel is now implementing LED lighting retrofits and deploying the building management system with a real-time dashboard at all hospitals.


Integrating sustainability into organizational strategy

The System Green Team includes the Green Team Chair from each hospital, as well as subject matter experts from the Ascension System Office and Solutions companies including Medxcel, The Resource Group and the Ascension Ministry Service Center. Each hospital has established a Green Team that reports to the Environment of Care Committee and the hospital COO or administrator. In addition, each hospital completes a yearly survey documenting activity in the nine categories of the Environmental Stewardship Program.

Case Study: St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital Green Team

St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital (SVIH) works with the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) and the Indianapolis Environmental Equity Council (IEEC) in Indianapolis and Marion County, with a focus on the overlap and interrelation of health care and environmental justice. A modern revival of Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign cites environmental justice as a main issue which is interconnected with access to health care. Ecological devastation is affecting both natural resources and at-risk communities. Leaders of the campaign have noted that rising utility costs, air pollution and access to health care due to pollution have a disproportionate impact on low-income communities. By becoming more involved with both organizations, St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital can better serve the state of Indiana.

In addition to environmental advocacy work, the St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital Green Team was involved in several projects in the past year:

  • The Marten House Hotel on the St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital property was demolished to make way for the William K. Nasser, MD Healthcare Education and Simulation Center. The project was planned and implemented with a zero-landfill impact and practically all demolition materials were recycled.
  • Parking lot lighting was retrofitted to LED lamps. In addition to a lower energy cost after migrating to LED lighting, the lighting is brighter, which improves safety for associates and visitors.
  • St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital waste management programs have continually improved, with a 12 percent overall reduction in solid waste and a parallel increase in recycling year-to-date. In addition, St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital achieved over $900,000 in savings with Pulse Oximeter medical device reprocessing collections.
  • The St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital Green Team hosted its first Feast of St. Francis event with an activity asking associates to suggest recycling ideas. Over forty ideas were reviewed at the quarterly Green Team meeting and sent to the Environment of Care Committee and Board of Directors to consider for adoption. A number of associates inquired about joining the Green Team after the event.

Ascension, Medxcel take environmental actions

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Ascension Indiana environmental efforts recognized

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Medxcel, Ascension Pick Up Better Buildings Challenge Award

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Education & Communication

Creating awareness; improving adoption and practices and sharing success stories

Green Teams promote the Environmental Stewardship Program with activities during the Feast of St. Francis in early October and Earth Day in April. Resources include sharing Good Day Ascension articles, distributing prayer cards at meetings and in huddles, and raising awareness via social media, external media, internal communication, lunch & learns, presentations, vendor fairs, community events and associate activities.

Medxcel Landscaping Teams Led “Green” Efforts Across Ministries

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Sacred Heart Hospital Pensacola (Pensacola, FL)

Earth Day turns into Earth Week on the Gulf Coast

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Small Acts, Giant Impact: Earth Day and the Power of Habits

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Feast of St. Francis Today

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Energy & Water

Helping hospitals reduce costs and protect scarce resources. Decreasing the strain on municipal water supplies and reducing energy needed to treat and deliver water

Green Teams are asked to understand each hospital’s energy, water and sewer use and cost by using our energy management system to create reports and share at the Environment of Care Committee meetings.

Providence Hospital (Mobile, AL)

Resourceful thinking saves water and money in Mobile

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Energy to Care, Department of Energy recognize Ascension’s energy-saving efforts

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Medxcel Making Changes to Conserve Water in Texas

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Enabling Healthier, Safer, Lower-Cost Facilities

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Waste Management & Reduction

Reducing waste while increasing recycling and donations, safely

Green Teams are asked to reduce solid waste and Regulated Medical Waste as well as increase recycling at each hospital by working with The Resource Group, Medxcel Safety Officers, Environmental Services and the waste management supplier to understand the hospital’s waste streams and report data quarterly at Environment of Care Committee meetings.

Case Study: Our Lady of Lourdes Green Team

The Green Team at Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital (Lourdes), in Binghamton, NY, understands the importance of protecting and sustaining our resources and environment. St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment, calls us to love and nurture creation. Both the Ascension and the Lourdes Green Team mission statements call us improve the health of individuals and communities. Lourdes began years ago to engage associates to reduce, reuse and recycle and to expand and extend its ministry of Environmental Stewardship.

Lourdes Green Team mission statement

Rooted in our call to be stewards of God's creation and the resources of our ministry, we will demonstrate our accountability through enhancing awareness and knowledge of ways to protect resources and avoid waste and harm to the environment in which we live and work.

Ascension mission statement

Rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus as healer, we commit ourselves to serving all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. Our Catholic health ministry is dedicated to spiritually-centered, holistic care, which sustains and improves the health of individuals and communities. We are advocates for a compassionate and just society through our actions and our words.

Several examples are listed below.

  • The composting program implemented eight years ago benefits both Lourdes and the community. A local vendor picks up Lourdes’ organic waste from food preparation to create compost and mulch, which is used for an organic garden on the Lourdes property. What cannot be composted is donated to local pig farmers, who then donate meat to local shelters, and so the beneficial cycle continues.
  • The Lourdes recycling program keeps getting better and better, thanks to associate engagement and commitment. Surgical “blue wrap” is collected and used to produce sleeping bags for the homeless. Gently-used clothing drives are held during Earth Day celebrations. Both programs keep items out of the landfill while serving the poor and vulnerable in the region.
  • The Green Team’s first “Bike/Walk/Carpool to Work Day” demonstrated practical ways to reduce the hospital’s carbon footprint by encouraging alternative transportation.
  • The primary Green Team activity is the waste-free Christmas dinner, with a complete meal served to all associates. After careful planning, all waste is diverted to either composting or recycling waste streams.

Seton Healthcare Family (TX)

Educational materials for waste - trash / recycling / composting

Food Systems

Increasing health and safety in food service while decreasing waste and use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in meat and poultry products

Green Teams are working with Food & Nutrition Services to increase turkey purchases at each hospital, with the following benefits: Turkey is a healthier alternative and has a lower environmental footprint as compared to meat and pork. Ascension hospitals are able to buy poultry raised without the routine use of antibiotics, which aids in preserving antibiotics for human use. Food & Nutrition Services chefs develop recipes using 50/50 ground beef / turkey blend for meatballs and meatloaf; work to monitor portion control; provide turkey carving stations in cafeterias; and raise awareness at All Hands meetings.

Ascension Genesys Hospital (Grand Blanc, MI)

Ascension Genesys farm incubator helps women, the community

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Ascension Genesys Hospital (Grand Blanc, MI)

Women learn to farm at Genesys-hosted incubator

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Safer Chemicals

Reducing exposure to chemicals in order to “first do no harm”

Medxcel’s Planning & Design team developed furnishings design standards following the Safer Chemicals protocol of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative to specify furniture that minimizes chemicals of concern such as flame retardants, formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds, antimicrobials, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Environmentally Preferred Purchasing

Purchasing products that are durable, efficient and cost-effective, while reducing the hospital’s environmental impact

Hospitals are asked to increase green office supply product purchases without increasing spend. This can be accomplished by identifying office supply products with green attributes already on the formulary.

Ascension working to eliminate single-use plastics

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Eliminate Single-use Plastics

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Single use plastics have a damaging effect on the Earth. Each day, humans produce and utilize 500 million plastic straws. These straws, and many other single-use plastics, are made from the petroleum by-product polypropylene, which does not easily degrade in the environment. These items are used for a matter of minutes and end up existing forever, causing lasting damage to the Earth. The graphic below offers alternatives to single use plastics – you can make a difference!

Green Buildings / Operations & Maintenance / Transportation

Green construction, operations and maintenance of healthcare facilities; vehicles; landscaping; and site water management

In collaboration with Medxcel Planning, Design & Construction and Real Estate, a green real estate overlay was developed for new ambulatory site selection and implementation projects.

Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI)

Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s receives award for ‘green’ roof

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