Coatesville VA works to be a partner in sustainability

Alex Cruz, a Boy scout, pauses for a photo in front of the raised garden beds at Coatesville VAMC July 16, 2019. The raised beds are Cruz’s Eagle Scout service project and are accessible to Veterans of all abilities and grow fresh vegetables for the Veterans and the excess is donated to local food pantries.

In recognition for its achievement and innovation in health care sustainability, Coatesville VAMC received the 2020 Partner for Change Award from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care.

The award is one of Practice Greenhealth’s Environmental Excellence Awards given annually to honor health care’s achievements in sustainability.

To be recognized, Coatesville VAMC needed to demonstrate they continuously improve and expand upon programs to eliminate mercury, reduce and recycle waste, source products sustainably, and more.

The Chester County Food Bank offered locally sourced produce to staff and veterans throughout the year. Scouts constructed raised vegetable gardens as part of their Eagle Scout projects and Penn Medicine/Chester County Hospital designed and planted a new pollinator garden. Other efforts included public education, new outside recycling bins placed around campus, and tree banding to reduce the Spotted Lanternfly population, an invasive species in this area.

One large project was to clean out the old research building. It contributed 5.59 tons of books and papers and removed 1,840 pounds of biological waste and 2,400 pounds of chemicals.

Construction projects accounted for over 3,370 tons of recycled materials including concrete, dirt, metal, and trees while the single-stream recycling program captured another 500 tons of materials with a one bin for all recyclables concept.

“In a shifting health care 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. “Coatesville VAMC demonstrates the kind of leadership, innovation, and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices.”

Practice Greenhealth is the leading membership and networking organization for sustainable health care, delivering environmental solutions to more than 1,100 U.S. hospitals and health systems.

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