Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Becomes First 3RCertified Hospital

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Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s (CKHA) continued excellence in environmental initiatives were recognized with a Gold Level certification from the Recycling Council of Ontario’s (RCO) 3RCertified Waste Reduction and Diversion program. The organization was presented with its certification at the RCO Awards in Toronto on October 23. CKHA is the first hospital in Canada to participate in the 3RCertified program.

“The continuous effort of our Green Team and contributing staff has been recognized once again,” says CKHA’s Carrie Sophonow, Manager of Housekeeping. “It was an honour to be chosen as the first hospital in Canada to participate in the provincial 3RCertified program.”

3RCertified is a unique and voluntary program in partnership with the RCO and the Ministry of Environment for buildings in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors. The certification program uses a points-based process that reviews how organizations manage solid waste reduction and diversion operations. Certification is valid for three years, conditional upon annual assessments at 12 and 24 months. CKHA’s waste auditor, Taylor Purdy of Waste Reduction Group, recognized the value of 3RCertified and was instrumental in CKHA’s successful application to the program. CKHA received the 3RCertified Gold Level certification based on established criteria and a third-party evaluation of waste management and reduction practices.

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Regulations for handling waste set by the Ministry of the Environment requires healthcare workers to handle multiple streams of waste including anatomical, biohazard/infectious, cytotoxic, pharmaceutical, hazardous, regular landfill, and recycle. The complexity of handling all of these streams of waste is a reality for health care professionals. Auditing the waste provides CKHA with a benchmark to measure their current state and with this data, the facility establishes a recommended plan for increasing their diversion rates. Beside the obvious environmental and health benefits, there are financial savings in waste reduction. These savings translate to funds that could be better spent on patient care.

The RCO certification requires a completion of the application which demonstrates compliance with established measures. This information is reviewed by the RCO to determine if the facility has met the requirements and then recommends a third party auditor to complete a site visit to review waste reduction strategies and verify the programs in place.

To maintain 3RCertified status, CKHA is required to update their waste stream data by filling in an annual assessment survey, site profile and waste stream profile.  A short on-site evaluation to confirm ongoing waste reduction and diversion performance will be performed annually.

CKHA continues to work with their partners like the RCO and shares information and programs with other healthcare facilities regionally, provincially and nationally, which is the key to greening the healthcare industry. The organization used this opportunity to make recommendations on the certification program to RCO to improve the application process for other hospitals.

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“Being the first hospital in Canada to achieve this recognition is another example of our excellence in environmental stewardship,” says CKHA President and CEO, Colin Patey. “The outstanding work of our Green Team continues to display that we are an exceptional community hospital leading the way in green healthcare.”

Achieving the Gold Level certification builds on the previous successes of the Green Team, who are recognized on a national, provincial and community level. In 2013, Carrie Sophonow, the Manager of Housekeeping and Linen was awarded the individual leadership award for Green Healthcare. Additionally, CKHA won the Ontario Hospital Association’s (OHA) Green Health Care Award for Waste Management, and was a finalist for OHA’s Green Hospital of the Year Award.

“CKHA’s Green Team is committed to pursuing effective, responsible and sustainable ways to handle waste management as we know it has a tremendous impact on the ecological, social and economic health of our hospital and community,” commented Beth Hall, Director of Support Services. “It is also very important to acknowledge that without the support of our staff and our partners who share the same vision, we would not be able to accomplish all that we have achieved.  Their commitment and forward thinking has allowed CKHA to have a pivotal role in reducing its footprint, encouraging other healthcare organizations to review their waste management processes and be a national leader in waste reduction and diversion practices,” Hall adds.