As one of the largest health care systems in the nation, the healing mission at Dignity Health is to support healthy populations in the communities they serve, especially as it relates to vulnerable and underserved patients. With teamwork and innovation, faith and compassion, advocacy and action, Dignity Health’s clinicians and staff endeavor every day to keep their patients and communities healthy.
The decisions the health care industry makes can either harm or improve the safety and wellness of patients and families. Recognizing that individual well-being is deeply connected to the health of the planet, Dignity Health has taken on the responsibility to institute more environmentally-friendly practices across their hospitals to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
The barrier to entry is low for organizations looking to become more sustainable and, while it may seem simple, small changes can have far-reaching implications for the planet. To that end, Dignity Health publicly reports its sustainability goals. Sustainability metrics include: greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and efficiency, energy efficiency, waste diversion, renewable energy sources, and supply and services resource management. For example, Dignity Health has set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and increase sourcing of renewable energy by 35 percent by 2020.
As a result of focused efforts, Dignity Health has already begun to address the following areas:
- Consumption: Since 2010, Dignity Health’s overall energy usage has dropped by 16 percent and the system has decreased potable water usage by five percent since 2015.
- Policy Engagement: Dignity Health has revised their investment portfolio to reflect their divestment from thermal coal and has also advocated for the successful passage of landmark climate, energy, and water legislation. Dignity Health was also the first hospital system to commit to voluntarily measure, reduce, and report emissions of greenhouse gases by joining the Climate Registry. Dignity Health also continues to support the Paris Climate Agreement to advance climate-smart health care.
- Pollution: Dignity Health has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent since 2010, and has increased renewable energy usage to 27 percent to meet electricity needs and to 13 percent of overall energy usage (electricity and natural gas). In 2017, Dignity Health removed plastic straws and stir sticks from the cafeterias in their 39 hospitals, which eliminates four million pieces of plastic per year from oceans.
It is a moral imperative to put the environment first – for the sake of people’s health and the planet. Stewarding resources will help Dignity Health provide care to more people today and for future generations. Dignity Health hopes others will join the journey to help save lives through a commitment to sustainability.