More than healthcare.
It’s a statement Providence Care is committed to.
That promise is not only for patients, residents, clients and staff, but also Mother Nature.
That’s why the organization created the Green Team.
It’s a group of people that are focused on reducing Providence Care’s environmental footprint by spreading awareness, organizing green-friendly initiatives and promoting sustainable products to help protect the planet.
“Over the years people weren’t as focused on the environment but in today’s day and age, everything we do moving forward effects our future,” said Dave Smith, Environmental Services Manager.
“It’s important that we do our part as an organization, not only for us but also the community we live in.”
The Green Team is made up of 15 members.
Virtually every department throughout the organization is represented on the committee.
“All of the chemicals, toxins, plastics, it’s all effecting us,” said Michele Mahoney, Green Team member.
“We have to come together and reduce our impact. We have to do it everywhere, at home and in our workplace.”
One way the environmental crusaders get the word out, is to rally staff to get behind earth-friendly events happening in the city.
Take Pitch-In Kingston for example.
The week-long, spring community clean-up in April, was organized by Sustainable Kingston.
The Green Team assembled a small but mighty group to take part.
Armed with gloves and trash bags, staff picked up garbage around Providence Care Hospital, at Lake Ontario Park and along King Street West.
Deborah McKee, a Green Team member, was part of that crew.
“It was a rewarding experience, but also discouraging to see that there was so much waste,” McKee said.
“We had eight bags total and collected almost 70 pounds of garbage,” added Smith.
Earlier this month, the Green Team also encouraged staff to ditch their vehicles for more active and sustainable modes of transportation during this year’s Commuter Challenge.
During the week-long challenge, McKee hopped on two wheels and cycled to work from Amherstview, three out of the five days.
On the other two days she carpooled.
“I participated every day and logged a total of 150 kilometres, 115 of those on my bike.”
And she wasn’t the only one.
More than 50 staff members took part in the national competition.
In total 5,712 kilometres were logged, 366 litres of fuel was saved and 932 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided.
Providence Care ranked third out of 96 workplaces in Kingston that registered for the challenge.
“Seeing the results, knowing who our community competitors were, I’m thoroughly impressed and it motivates us to want to host more events,” Smith said.
But that’s not all.
The Green Team also has its sights set on raising awareness on recycling at all Providence Care locations.
“People really don’t know how to recycle in our new building, so we want to educate staff and visitors, and have more resources available to encourage them to recycle,” explained Mahoney.
“We recycle everything from plastic bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard, glass, organics and batteries,” added Smith.
And then there’s waste.
The planet protectors know there’s more they can do, that’s why they’re initiating a waste management audit.
“It’s vital for our focus. It will help identify opportunities as an organization to reduce our waste and organics footprint,” said Smith.
Being environmentally responsible has been top of mind for Providence Care.
When the organization built its new state-of-the-art hospital, it incorporated environmentally friendly features to reduce its impact on the planet.
Green features at Providence Care Hospital include:
- Massive amounts of natural light to offset the need for artificial light during the day
- Automated window blinds that lower when the temperature outside reaches a certain level, reducing the amount of solar heat entering the building
- Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems strategies to coincide with building occupancy schedules to reduce energy consumption
- Water efficient faucets and toilets to reduce water consumption
- Office light sensors that automatically shut off after a period of inactivity
- Inpatient dining-rooms where patients choose fresh food on-site, minimizing food waste and excess packaging
- Safe bike storage for staff and visitors
But the work is far from over.
Knowing this is an ongoing commitment, the Green Team meets once a month to discuss ways to decrease its environmental footprint, like finding ways to lower its energy consumption or sourcing out sustainable products to help reduce landfill waste.
It’s a lot of work, but McKee says it needs to be done.
“I think it’s impossible for the human race to be healthy if the world we live in is toxic,” explained McKee.
“The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we consume – if they are polluted, how can we not be? The Green Team wants to work on reversing the damage that has been done to Mother Earth, not just put a band-aid over the problems.”