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UVA Health University Medical Center’s Battle Building earns national award for sustainability

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For efforts to reduce waste and find innovative sustainability solutions, UVA Health University Medical Center’s Battle Building has earned the 2024 Greening the OR Recognition Award.

Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization for environmental sustainability in healthcare, gave the award, which recognizes waste management and reduction, medical device reprocessing, energy management and anesthesia use. A team of UVA Health clinicians and staff members have been actively seeking to reduce medical waste in the operating rooms and UVA Health Children’s outpatient clinics at the Battle Building. In 2023, more than 9,700 pounds of single-use devices (SUDs) were collected for reprocessing and reuse, saving $730,000. 

“In a shifting healthcare landscape, a focus on sustainability can help build resilience while better protecting the health of patients and the community,” said Gary Cohen, Practice Greenhealth founder. “The team at UVA Health University Medical Center’s Battle Building demonstrates the kind of leadership, innovation, and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices.”

Other UVA Health sustainability initiatives include:

  • A pilot program led by two nurses is significantly reducing single-use plastic bags to store patient belongings during outpatient surgeries by using reusable bins and encouraging patients to bring their own bag.
  • Expanding recycling by surveying the presence of recyclable materials, recycling bin locations and signage as well as the engagement of staff members.
  • Continuing countertop composting in kitchenettes.

The award is one of Practice Greenhealth’s Environmental Excellence Awards given annually to honor healthcare achievements in sustainability. UVA Health also received Stryker’s Environmental Excellence Award for its collection and purchasing of reprocessed SUDs.

This Practice Greenhealth award recognizes the tremendous efforts of individuals and small groups throughout UVA Health who have dedicated their time and energy to make our operating rooms run more efficiently and more sustainably,” Dr. Matthew Meyer, a UVA Health anesthesiologist and member of the UVA Health Sustainability Committee, said. “I am thrilled to work alongside these passionate, forward-thinking people, and see this award as indicative of a bright and more sustainable future at UVA Health.”

The UVA Health Sustainability Committee meets regularly to advance sustainability practices and policies in the system. Numerous health practitioners, staff, faculty and students undertake projects within their departments to reduce waste, minimize energy use and make their workplaces safer and healthier.

“As a hospital and health system, we have a unique role in Virginia to be good stewards of healthcare resources and ensure our clinical work contributes as little pollution as possible to the world,” said Min Lee, chief operating officer of UVA Health University Medical Center. “This award from Practice Greenhealth is emblematic of UVA Health’s commitment to efficiency, sustainability and public health.”

Practice Greenhealth is the leading membership and networking organization for sustainable health care, delivering environmental solutions to more than 1,700 U.S. hospitals and health systems.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.