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Feature Story

Caring for People and the Environment in the Hospital Operating Room

Kaiser Permanente’s Sacramento Medical Center demonstrates how environmentally friendly practices cut waste and save money

April 22, 2014

Operating room at Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center - people operating on patient

A hospital operating room serves as a critical setting where physicians and clinicians administer medical care to patients. But operating rooms also have an enormous environmental footprint, using substantial amounts of water, energy and supplies. Often, they are among the largest producers of waste in a hospital.

The Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center in Northern California is just one example of how Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians are taking steps to cut waste and reduce costs by focusing on “greening” the OR. Working together in “green teams,” and with the help of outside vendors, these individuals have undertaken a variety of initiatives, such as:

  • Recycling blue wrap, paper, packaging and containers
  • Washing and reusing gowns, table covers and towels
  • Safely sterilizing and reprocessing medical devices
  • Implementing LED lighting and other energy-cutting measures

“We all have a huge sense of pride every day when we go home knowing that we’ve been able to make a difference, not only here at our hospital, but also in our community,” says Shawna Graham, RN, perioperative services at the Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center.

This video highlights not only the tremendous cost savings that can be achieved in taking these steps, but also the extent to which they are helping to dramatically reduce waste output. It’s good news for hospitals and it underscores Kaiser Permanente’s mission to provide high-quality health care services and to improve the health of members and the communities we serve.