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St. John’s Health Awarded for “Environmental Excellence” for Second Consecutive Year

  • Category: Sustainability
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  • Written By: St. John's Health
St. John’s Health Awarded for “Environmental Excellence” for Second Consecutive Year

St. John’s Health (SJH) is a core element of the Jackson Hole community, and keeping our fellow community members safe and healthy is at the heart of our mission. In the face of climate change and its’ various impacts — wildfire smoke, intense storms, ever-more-brutal allergy seasons — it’s clear that part of SJH's commitment to community health has everything to do with protecting our home: Planet Earth.

The commitment that SJH has made to ensuring that operations are as “green” as possible is in alignment with the Practice Greenhealth guidelines for environmental excellence. In fact, St. John’s is proud to announce that the organization is a recipient of the 2023 Award for Environmental Excellence — an honor that the hospital has achieved two years in a row.

Launched in 2002, the Practice Greenhealth Awards Program recognizes healthcare facilities and health systems for their commitment to environmental stewardship and their sustainability achievements. Of course, attaining systems and programs that garnered this award took a great deal of commitment, effort, and creativity on behalf of the SJH team.

At the helm of this team, Nutrition Services Manager and Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Smith is passionate about ensuring that SJH undertakes as many initiatives as possible to minimize its operational impact on the environment. “In 2022, we received the ‘Greening the OR Award,’ recognizing an array of upgrades that increase the efficiency of our operating rooms,” says Smith. “We ran an energy audit and were able to bring the air exchanges down to the required level by implementing occupational sensors. In other words, the system shuts down when not needed, but can be up again within ten to fifteen minutes.” Smith adds that shifting to LED lights also reduced the OR’s energy consumption.

Smith points out that 8% of carbon emissions nationally come from healthcare facilities, and that hospitals large and small can all help reduce this number.

Smith explains that other important initiatives include utilizing refurbished equipment when possible, finding ways to reduce paper usage, selecting recycled paper products when possible, and encouraging staff members to commute to work on the START bus or via bike. “To encourage others, the CEO and HR Director both ride the bus when they can,” Smith says, citing that leading by example is often a powerful way to galvanize widespread support.

“We also started food composting three years ago,” says Smith. Last year, she says, 26 tons of compost were delivered to Haderlie Farms — a local organic farm that grows vegetables, flowers, herbs, milk, and grass-fed beef and pork. “We also recycled 100 tons of cardboard and 7 tons of other diversion, things like metal, wood, and such.”

Smith also explains that old linens are donated to the area’s veterinary clinics and animal shelters. “We try to count everything that we can, it makes a difference when it adds up!”

SJH has also integrated ten garden plots into the campus, located near the Sage Living part of the facility. Local Master Gardeners have helped to get these gardens up and running, and the residents of the senior living center are invited to help with caring for the plants. In addition to herbs, greens, and pollinator-friendly flowers, the gardens yielded 50 pounds of potatoes last year alone. “The residents helped to harvest and clean the potatoes, and then they got to enjoy them in their dinner,” says Smith.

Healthy communities thrive in healthy environments, from the smallest scale to the largest. SJH is committed to taking every measure possible to minimize the organization’s carbon footprint. Through innovation, collaboration, and dedication, the hospital’s efforts have already proven impactful, and will continue to do so into the future.

Green Transit Pop Up Event:

When: Thursday, August 17th, 2–4pm

Where: The new north parking lot, just beyond the main hospital entrance

Discover how St. John’s Health, Yellowstone-Teton Clean Cities, and local transportation partners are working to reduce carbon emissions in our community, and discover how you can contribute to a greener future through sustainable transportation choices.

This event will include a first look at St. John’s Health’s brand-new electric vehicle chargers, and the opportunity to try out a variety of e-bikes from Hoff’s Bikesmith.

Refreshments will be provided.