Hospices increasingly invest in sustainability
More hospices are going green, making short-term investments for long-term sustainability.
While some environmental initiatives have significant upfront costs, service providers expect to benefit from reduced energy and fuel costs and, in some cases, hiring and retaining employees.
These companies include Agrace Hospice & Supportive Care, which launched an initiative last October to become carbon neutral by 2025, according to President and CEO Lynn Sexten.
“Strategies evolve as the carbon neurons in the organization evolve,” Sexten said in an email to Hospice News. “In the early years, organizations like Agrace purchased carbon offsets as they implemented other, more complex plans that required additional time and financial resources.”
Founded in 1978, Agrace provides hospice and palliative care in southern Wisconsin. Other nonprofit services include personal care, adult day services, and grieving support.
By reducing its carbon footprint, Agrace aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through investments in renewable energy and building improvements, including the commissioning of existing building infrastructure and the installation of solar panels on rooftops.
Agrace has also begun the process of converting its fleet of durable medical equipment delivery trucks to electric vehicles. Local sourcing of food delivered to patients and their families also contributes to reducing the overall carbon footprint of the hospice.
Indirectly, environmental initiatives can also give hospices an edge when it comes to hiring and retaining employees, Sexten says.
“There is huge interest and support for these initiatives among staff. It’s an important part of our culture when it comes to engagement and retention,” Sexten said. “It also contributes to the applicants’ overall impression of Agrace.”
Agrace isn’t the only hospice looking to go green.
Amedisys Inc. (NASDAQ: AMED) also develops environmental initiatives. The company has developed a Zero Climate Transition Plan with the goal of achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions from operations by 2050.
Last year, the home health and hospice company released its first Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) report, which included 2021 energy consumption data as a benchmark.
Amedisys said in the report that among the company’s goals is to estimate the emissions associated with its fleet of 2,000 employee vehicles, which predominantly consists of small vehicles with low fuel consumption.
The plan also includes renovating office space in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Nashville, Tennessee, adding eco-friendly paint, automated lighting, recycled floors and locally sourced materials.
“While we are not a carbon-intensive business, we continue to do everything in our power to reduce our environmental impact – using resources efficiently, reducing waste and reducing carbon emissions where possible,” ESG said in a report. .
Another example is Ohio’s Western Preserve Hospice, which began its sustainability journey in 2009 by building an in-house team dedicated to creating and implementing environmental best practices.
This group, dubbed the “Green Team”, is responsible for analyzing financial data on energy and utility consumption to identify opportunities for improvement across the organization.
To date, these efforts have contributed to reducing waste and reducing energy use, according to the 2019 Greenhealth Practice Hospice Effort Report.
The hospice also refurbished the building with more efficient systems and equipment, recycled and repurposed materials, and purchased more sustainable cleaning and sanitation products.
For example, sensors installed at Ames Family Hospice were expected to cut costs associated with outdoor and indoor lighting by 61.4%, according to a report from Western Preserve Hospice.
Hospice of the Western Reserve has not responded to Hospice News attempts to connect, but CEO Bill Finn says the initiative has a strong impact on sustainability beyond the location of organizations.
“Sustainable practices benefit the entire community,” Finn said in the report. “Sustainability, environmental care, economic viability and social responsibility are closely linked to our mission to improve the quality of life for our patients and their families and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”
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