BAMC receives award for environmental sustainability efforts

By Lori NewmanJanuary 25, 2023

BAMC receives award for environmental sustainability efforts
Rosa Jimenez, housekeeper, cleans a patient exam room at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, March 25, 2022. BAMC received the 2022 Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change Award and the Greening the OR Recognition Award. (DoD photo by Jason W. Edwards) (Photo Credit: Jason W. Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (January 25, 2023) -- Brooke Army Medical Center received the 2022 Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change Award and the Greening the OR Recognition Award.

The Partner for Change award recognizes superior performance in environmental sustainability, covering a range of different sustainability programs and activities. Winners have also made substantive progress on mercury elimination.

“This achievement means that BAMC has gone above and beyond being a good steward for the environment and has been recognized for its superior performance in environmental sustainability,” said Army Maj. Ryan Wells, BAMC chief of environmental health. “We have set the standard for all military treatment facilities to follow.”

Over the past year, BAMC has recycled more than 750,000 pounds of waste materials.

“This effort significantly reduced our disposal costs while simultaneously protecting the environment,” Wells said.

The Greening the OR Recognition Award honors facilities that have made substantial progress in reducing the impact of the surgical environment.

BAMC was only one of two military treatment facilities that received this award.

The OR was able to save BAMC $1,126,696 in disposal costs and reduce waste in the OR by 606,000 pounds by using the following: recycling anesthetic gases, medical device reprocessing, segregating non-infectious waste from regulated medical waste, reusable linens, and reusable sterilization containers.

BAMC was also able to reach 100% use of green cleaning chemicals in five target areas: general purpose cleaners, window/glass cleaners, bathroom/restroom cleaners, carpet cleaners and floor cleaners.

In another initiative, BAMC created an outreach program to inform staff about controlled substance disposal after receiving many inquiries about proper disposal procedures.

Future goals include implementing new policies to reduce waste by an additional 10%, using procurement to reduce unnecessary purchases, increasing staff education about sustainability and waste management, and replacing separators within the dental clinics with separators that can capture dental amalgam, which would reduce hazardous waste costs.

“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. “BAMC demonstrates the kind of leadership, innovation, and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices.”

Practice Greenhealth is a membership and networking organization for sustainable health care, delivering environmental solutions to more than 1,100 U.S. hospitals and health systems.

“We have only one planet and we should not waste it,” Wells said. “Being good environmental stewards means protecting our resources for future generations while simultaneously protecting the health of our communities. It also saves us a lot of money.”