Mid Coast Hospital Recognized for Outstanding Environmental Performance

Mid Coast Hospital's Environmental Coordinator, Bettie Kettell
Boston, MA-When community groups, businesses, government agencies, individuals, and municipalities from across New England were recognized by the EPA in Faneuil Hall recently, our own Mid Coast Hospital was there.

Mid Coast was one of four New England hospitals earning the Partners for Change Award for efforts to reduce waste, prevent pollution, and eliminate mercury.

According to the hospital's environmental coordinator Bettie Kettell, "Mid Coast Hospital is a large facility with a tremendous need to eliminate waste and to ensure that it is all done safelyand as economically as possible".

"As a healthcare organization, there are medical wastes to contend with and there are hundreds of products that are used everyday. And of course there is a large amount of paper used for records that must be disposed of confidentially," she said.

"That mean separating the immediately recyclable from the items which must be shredded. Each office has a big responsibility."

Environmental Committee's Program Leads the Way

Under Kettell's leadership the environmental committee at Mid Coast Hospital has put together an aggressive program which includes:

1. An expanded, system-wide program for recycling all recyclable commodities, including newspapers, office paper, corrugated cardboard, bottles, and cans.

2. A new employee orientation segment that highlights ways each staff member can work in a more environmentally-friendly manner.

3. In conjunction with state efforts, conducted an employee mercury thermometer exchange. Staff turning in mercury thermometers on May 23 received a digital thermometer in return.

4. A product and vendor evaluation team to identify products and systems which will help the hospital provide "eco-healthy" healthcare. The work of this group led to the purchase of a new equipment sterilization unit which doesn't produce the toxic waste of the former unit.

According to Kettell, a nurse who also works in the operating room, there will be many more hospitals earning the Partners for Change Award in the future. Mid Coast just happens to be leading the way.

"We help set a high but achievable standard. We are proving that it can be done," said Kettell. "Our goal is to eliminate 50 percent of our waste by 2010 and all of our mercury in the next two years."

Others Honored

Also honored was the Maine Hospital Association, which received the Champions for Change Award in recognition of their work to promote pollution prevention in healthcare facilities.

Hospitals honored were Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA; Hartford Hospital in Hartford, CT; Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, ME; and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA.

Other Maine individual and groups highlighted were:

Evan Richert, director of Maine State Planning Office, for battling urban sprawl with the help of government, developers, and the public.

Piscataqua River Co-op for preparing for and responding to oil spills on land and on water.

Trainriders/Northeast for its advocacy for restoring train service between Boston and Portland, Maine.

The Gulf of Maine Council (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), a unique alliance of government agencies working to foster ecosystem conservation and cross-border
cooperation to enhance the environmental quality of the Gulf of Maine.