Happy World Health Day! The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated this year’s theme as “Our Planet, Our Health” with a focus on the urgent actions needed to keep humans and our planet healthy. In fact, WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths occur around the world each year because of avoidable environmental causes.
Today, we would like to highlight two ways our ministry is working to help the planet by putting sustainability into action. Also, check back with us on Earth Day on Apr. 22 to learn about the other two ways our ministry working to support the environment.
Being Good Stewards of Energy
A large and oftentimes overlooked part of providing care to a hospital full of patients is the act of ensuring we have nutritious meals available for everyone in our facilities. Our culinary and dietician teams work around the clock to deliver a large variety of fresh foods to patients, visitors and hospital staff.
With many dietary needs and concerns to address on a daily basis, our culinary team needs to have access to an enormous amount of fresh food.
With sustainability in mind, we took a look at the process we take when preparing the food and realized the scraps and waste didn’t necessarily need to end up in a landfill. We contacted a company called Natural Organic Process Enterprises (or N.O.P.E.) to help create a plan for how to reduce our waste when it came to preparing food.
The culinary teams at our hospitals now collect all the food scraps and unusable parts of food (as well as waste), measure it and use specially designed composting trash cans to dispose of it.
Last year, one of our hospitals was able to divert more than 3,000 pounds of food scraps and compostable organics from ending up in landfills.
Being Good Stewards of the Land
As part of our overall sustainability plan, we’ve made decisions to financially invest in projects across the country that help the overall health of the planet as well as promote our mission and core values in a way that is consistent with our identity as a Catholic health system.
We refer to this as “impact investing.”
Impact investments are investments made with the goal of producing a strong, positive social impact.
One example of this is our investment in a restoration project that’s being completed in the state of Florida. Alongside Ecosystem Investment Partners, we’ve offered financial support to a 3,100-acre wetland restoration and water supply initiative.
The goal of this initiative is to restore the wetlands, improve water supply and address the “Red Tides” issue that arises from an excess of phosphorus and other nutrients being flooded into Lake Okeechobee and the Gulf of Mexico.
As part of the investment, we’ve partnered with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to manage regional flood control, water supply, water quality protection and natural ecosystem restoration management.
Visit our website to learn more about our ministry as well as the health care services we offer at Mercy Health.