by Rob Chase
2017 marks our sixth year attending the CleanMed conference – and our third time to exhibit. I look forward to this event every year and networking with individuals throughout healthcare who are on the forefront of creating a more sustainable healthcare system.
This year seemed more important than ever to get together with the industry professionals committed to connecting healthcare and environment. It’s never been more imperative that the healthcare industry stay focused on meaningful change and commitment to sustainability and healthy environments.
“We believe health care will remain on the forefront of sustainability because it’s good business, it’s good for communities and it’s better for people’s health,” Gary Cohen, Co-founder and president, Health Care Without Harm and President of Practice Greenhealth (producer of CleanMed). Although there’s a debate about health care in the United States, sustainability efforts in the industry aren’t going anywhere,” he stated recently in his article, Healthcare May Be in a State of Flux, But HealthCare Sustainability is Here to Stay, published on ensia.com.
One of the most compelling experiences of the week was attending the opening session. Dr. Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer of Sutter Health, gave an impassioned speech about his life’s journey as a healthcare professional. He dynamically conveyed the connection between human health and the environment with a few personal thoughts. Some thoughts he conveyed that really stuck out for me, and inspired me to continue our important mission at NewGen Surgical and as a medical community member as a whole were:
- Seven million people die each year from air pollution caused from the burning of fossil fuels and reminded us that healthcare is in the healing profession.
- Dr. Lockhart stressed that those of us in healthcare can become role models in caring for creation.
- He spoke of his friend Bill Anders, an Apollo 8 astronaut, who took the photo “Earthrise”, one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century. He said that this photograph carries with it a moral imperative to care for the earth and its inhabitants because it reminds us that we live on a finite planet.
Among the attendees this year was NewGen Surgical Advisor, Gerrie Davis, R.N., CNOR, CVCNII. Joining us in our exhibit booth, as an experienced O.R. nurse and a member of our advisory board, Gerrie spoke directly with nursing peers to demonstrate the functionality of NewGen Surgical products while sharing their sustainable features. This was Gerrie’s first CleanMed and she was so inspired and boosted by the experience connecting with her associates and other healthcare sustainability leaders that she has already requested time to attend CleanMed 2018 in San Diego.
I am always energized after spending a week with sustainability leaders focused on moving the needle of healthcare systems nationwide. I have witnessed the challenges, plans of action, and successes that ultimately lead to the acknowledgement in the form of a Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Award. This is the highest honor given to hospitals that are leading the industry and providing different sustainability metrics across seven different topic areas—waste, chemicals, operating rooms, food, energy, water and climate. Sustainability is entrenched in their culture and the awards are very well deserved. Congratulations again to the 2017 recipients.
On the product side, we joined 50 exhibitors in the expo hall. Among them, an exciting new venture for bringing ‘greener’ healthy solutions and products through a GPO-type organization, was Greenhealth Exchange (GX), a purchasing cooperative based in Reston, Virginia. They made the rounds in the exhibit hall to collect future contenders for the product category available to members later this year. NewGen Surgical is looking forward to starting the selection process for the NGS35W, the first plant-based surgical skin stapler. Stay tuned for an update.
Hope to see you at CleanMed 2018 in San Diego.