Atlantic Health System and each of its medical centers were recognized by Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care, highlighting the health system’s continued success in making its operations greener, even amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The health system received the prestigious System for Change Award for 2021, which recognizes health systems that are working cohesively to set system-wide sustainability goals, track performance data, benchmark, and support intra organizational learning and implementation within their institutions. Atlantic Health System is just one of eight organizations throughout the United States to win this award.
Atlantic Health System’s hospitals – Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center and Hackettstown Medical Center, each received the prestigious Environmental Excellence Award, which recognizes superior performance in environmental sustainability, covering a range of different sustainability programs and activities. Winners have also made substantive progress on mercury elimination.
“Atlantic Health System has long acknowledged that the health of our communities depends heavily on the environment around them, and we have fully embraced our role in helping to improve the conditions of the communities we serve,” said Nikki Sumpter, Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer, Atlantic Health System. “In the last year and a half, the shared responsibility that we have to one another’s health has never been more apparent, and we are honored that our efforts in making health care environmentally sustainable are once again recognized.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic presented health care providers with unexpected challenges and new demand on facilities and resources, Atlantic Health System quickly pivoted and found ways to align its sustainability efforts within the measures it took to keep patients, visitors and team members safe.
The most notable example of this was the organization’s system-side powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) program at each of the hospitals. With N-95 masks in high demand early in the pandemic, the health system rapidly expanded its supply of 75 PAPR units to more than 800 units throughout the system. The re-useable and rechargeable PAPRs can incorporate multiple forms of protection and allowed the health system to relieve some of its need for N-95 masks in certain care settings.
This and other novel efforts during the pandemic bolstered the health system’s already-strong culture of environmental sustainability and robust initiatives to make its facilities greener.
“After making it through one of the most challenging years, Atlantic Health System remains committed to making the communities we serve healthier,” said Carolyn Brown-Dancy, director of environmental health and safety for Atlantic Health System. “As such, our focus on healthy and sustainable foods is to provide a wide range of healthy food options that are high quality, nutritious, and sustainable to support a food system that improves the lives of our team members, patients and consumers.”
The organization’s accomplishments in 2020 included:
- Atlantic Health System Cupboard, a partnership between its hospitals’ foundations and medical staff, provides a pre-packed bags of groceries to team members in need.
- The organization provided access to grocery essential items to team members such as half-gallon 2% milk, half-loaf of whole wheat, white and multigrain bread, a dozen all-natural, farm-raised brown eggs, pre-packed deli cold cuts and cheese, produce and herbs.
- On-site farmers markets at Atlantic Health System’s hospitals and farm-to-table events throughout summer and fall featuring produce from local farms and honey produced by the hospitals’ own on-site beehives.
“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. “Atlantic Health System demonstrates the kind of leadership, innovation, and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices.”
Other systemwide initiatives included:
- In collaboration with local energy providers, Atlantic Health System engineering and facility services work continuously to improve energy efficiencies at all of its locations, including the installation of LED lights, occupancy sensors and other upgrades.
- During 2020 Atlantic Health System remained proactive in reducing and eliminating harmful chemicals with safer alternatives at its Atlantic Consolidated Lab and all hospital labs. For example, the organization replaced xylene with a safer alternative in almost all uses throughout the system.
- In order to promote a reduction to air pollution and climate change Atlantic Health System continued to enhance its transportation services. The Atlantic Mobile Health shuttle service facilitates the transportation of Atlantic Health System employees between parking lots and their work sites.
To learn more about this year’s Practice Greenhealth winners, click here.