The VA Maryland Healthcare System is committed to delivering quality health care to our nation’s veterans. In order to accomplish this mission, the health care system recognizes that it must operate in a manner that protects both the environment and the safety of all patients, employees, and visitors.
The VA Maryland Health Care System is committed to reducing environment rick factors and associated expenses by focusing on pollution prevention, resource reduction strategies, environmental compliance, waste reduction, and continuous improvement of our environmental program.
In order to improve our environmental stewardship, the VA Maryland Health Care System developed the Green Environmental Management System (GEMS) in 2005. The GEMS program focuses on environmental compliance throughout the health care system, as well as water conservation, energy conservation, green purchasing, resource conservation, recycling, sustainable building, fleet management & fuel usage reduction, and waste minimization.
To coordinate the implementation and continuous improvement of this program, the VA Maryland Health Care system has hired a GEMS Coordinator and developed a GEMS Committee to discuss ongoing environmental issues throughout the organization. The committee meets regularly and sets environmental goals and reviews environmental impacts.
Since 2005, the GEMS program has realized the following accomplishments:
- the development of numerous compliance policies & operating procedures
- increased compliance with federal & state laws
- an eight percent reduction in regulated medical waste
- a seven percent reduction in solid waste
- increased green purchasing
- on site compliance and environmental training
In addition to these accomplishments, the VA Maryland Health Care System has increased its recycling efforts by 46 percent since 2005 thanks to the implementation of cardboard, ink & toner, and battery recycling programs.
In 2009, the VA Maryland Health Care System received national recognition from Practice Greenhealth for environmental excellence in health care. The award acknowledged the health care system’s continuing efforts in mercury reduction, pollution prevention, environmental compliance, and recycling.
In the next few years, the health care system plans to increase recycling by an additional 10 percent by instituting a paper recycling program throughout the organization. There are also plans to reduce medical waste, increase compliance with the management of pharmaceutical waste, and develop a Green Purchasing policy.
For additional information about the VA Maryland Health Care System’s GEMS program, please contact Angela Wood, GEMS Coordinator, at 1-800-949-1003, ext. 6574, or by email at Angela.Wood2@va.gov.