Green Environmental Management System (GEMS) - VA Maryland Health Care System
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VA Maryland Health Care System

 

Green Environmental Management System (GEMS)

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The VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) is a dynamic and progressive health care organization dedicated to providing quality, compassionate and accessible care and service to Maryland’s Veterans.  The VAMHCS also protects the health and safety of its patients, employees, and visitors and the environment that surrounds them. To achieve the latter, the VAMHCS implemented a Green Environmental Management System (GEMS), a framework to manage our environmental impacts. A central part of the GEMS program is the VAMHCS GEMS Committee, comprised of a cross-functional team of representatives from different VAMHCS services.  The VAMHCS GEMS Committee meets monthly to work on stewardship and environmental regulatory compliance issues and has developed the VAMHCS Environmental GEMS Policy that requires the VAMHCS to adhere to the following environmental management principles:

      • Stewardship
      • Compliance
      • Pollution Prevention
      • Environmental Planning
      • Continual Improvement

If you would like a copy of the VAMHCS environmental Policy Statement, please contact VAMHCSGEMSProgram@va.gov .

Providing quality health care causes impacts to air, land, and water and produces wastes.  The VAMHCS minimizes these impacts as much as possible and complies with all applicable environmental laws and regulations.  We do this through the work of the VAMHCS GEMS Program Managers, the GEMS Committee, employee training, policies, and internal VA environmental compliance audits.  The VAMHCS GEMS Program Managers work with EPA and Maryland environmental regulators closely to ensure our environmental impacts are managed properly.  These include:

  • Impacts to Air:
    • Use of emergency generators
    • Refrigerants
    • Boilers provide power, comfort cooling and heating
  • Land:
    • Use of tanks to store fuel for emergency power generation
  •  Waste:
    • General trash
    • Used oil
    • Hazardous waste
    • Pharmaceutical waste
    • Regulated medical waste
    • Universal waste such as light bulbs and batteries
  • Impacts to Water:
    • Construction (storm water)
    • Sanitary sewer
    • Water disinfection

Environmental stewardship is also an important component to the VAMHCS GEMS program.  For Earth Day, patients, visitors and staff can visit GEMS Earth Day information tables at the Baltimore and Perry Point VA Medical Centers every April that feature information on our current stewardship and environmental compliance programs, as well as other Earth-Friendly VAMHCS patient programs such as Horticulture Therapy.  In addition, the GEMS Program organizes voluntary employee shoreline cleanups at the Perry Point VA Medical Center every year around Earth Day.  Employees come from all VAMHCS facilities to help keep our shoreline and campus clean.  As of March 2019, we’ve removed nine dump truck loads of plastics, tires, trash, and miscellaneous metal waste from the shoreline of the Perry Point VA Medical Center.  On a monthly basis, the VAMHCS diverts anywhere from 12 to 29 tons of waste from landfills to single stream recycling, and 10 tons of organic waste to composting.

The VAMHCS has also received the following awards in recognition of its commitment to environmental excellence:

  • Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change Award - 2010, 2017 and 2018
  • Maryland Recycling Network Award for Outstanding Small Government Program - 2017
  • Environmental Protection Agency Trailblazer Award for Environmental Excellence and Leadership - 2009

For additional information about the VA Maryland Health Care System’s GEMS Program, please contact VAMHCSGEMSProgram@va.gov.