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VA Leads Nation in Healthcare that Protects Veterans, Communities

May 20, 2016

“Primum non nocere.”  Doctors and nurses have learned this Latin phrase.  In English, it translates to “First, do no harm.”  It guides healthcare professionals to avoid harm to their patients and now healthcare organizations are applying it to broader efforts to protect patients and public health.  VA employees have embraced this challenge and we are proud to announce that VA has just received nation-wide recognition for efforts to achieve sustainable healthcare.  VA energy and environmental professionals have led the way.  They are minimizing the use of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste.  They are improving building systems to maximize patient comfort, while improving energy efficiency to reduce pollution.  Meanwhile, VA employees in various positions are also contributing, from transforming on-campus plowing to improve efficiency, safety, and reduce salt pollution, to creating a Veteran-run farmer’s market to provide patients with healthy food and a welcoming community gathering.

Dick Hofman, Acting Program Manager for VA’s Green Environmental Management Systems Program, stated, “We’re making the facilities sustainable, we’re reducing the costs of operations, which gives us more funding for patient care.  We’re making the environment around the workplace and within the medical centers safer and healthier.”

Practice Greenhealth, a healthcare non-profit, annually recognizes hospitals for their achievements in sustainable healthcare, with an organizational goal of “Sustainable health care that’s good for the environment, good for patients and staff, and good for the bottom line…”  The awards nomination requires rigorous documentation of efforts in many areas, including chemicals, energy, water, waste, food, and more.

This year, so many VA Medical Centers were recognized with awards that the entire Veterans Health Administration won the “System for Change” Award, for efforts and successes across the organization.

Twenty-nine facilities were recognized with “Partner for Change” awards for “significant” programs.  15 facilities were recognized for “superior” programs with the Environmental Excellence Awards.  Four VA facilities were named “Top 25” award winners, recognizing the nation’s best 25 programs.

View External link to a non-government website the full lists of winners.

Tim Blackburn is a Green Environmental Management Systems Coordinator at the James Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona, PA.  His facility was named “Top 25” for the third consecutive year, an unmatched achievement, and he assisted many colleagues with their applications, a process in which the work of documentation itself facilitates improved environmental management.  Referring to the awards, he stated, “It’s recognition that a facility whose primary goal is healthcare for Veterans can do so in a way that is extremely protective of the environment we all live in and do both well.”

Thank you to all the VA employees who have made this achievement possible, for your dedication to protecting Veterans, communities, public health, and the environment.

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