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North Bronx Healthcare Network

September 19, 2010
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The North Bronx Healthcare Network (NBHN) consists of North Central Bronx Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center and is a part of the largest public hospital system in the country.

It serves an area with some of the highest asthma rates in the country, which cost the city an estimated $250 million in 2000.

In an effort to reduce costs and the possible contributors to a patient’s asthma attack while in the hospital, NBHN looked for ways to reduce the impact of cleaning on patient health.

Breathing easier
NBHN began its program by focusing on sustainability.

The system administrators introduced new initiatives that would reduce the impact of cleaning and waste disposal on patients and the environment.

“To green our cleaning program, we partnered with a progressive chemical manufacturer,” says Peter Lucey, associate executive director of North Bronx Healthcare Network. “With extensive support from the manufacturer and local distributor representatives, we implemented the new products and trained cleaning staff. By offering extensive training, staff better understood the motivation behind the program and the benefit of correctly performing the cleaning processes. Ultimately, this has helped us reduce the negative impact of cleaning on the hospitals’ indoor air quality and reduce triggers for asthma attacks.”

In conjunction with the green cleaning chemicals, NBHN also implemented other sustainable measures in its cleaning department to decrease environmental impact.

A ready-to-use chemical dispensing system reduces the amount of plastic used in the department’s operations.

NBHN staff also implemented automated floor care processes to lessen water and energy use.

In addition, the network has switched to coreless toilet paper rolls to eliminate cardboard waste and uses all Green Seal-certified paper products.

To help reduce the hospitals’ red bag waste consumption, NBHN implemented an aggressive education program that provides hospital personnel with information on the correct types of infectious waste material to be placed in red bags.

This reduces incineration costs while redirecting recyclable materials to the appropriate containers.

Where possible, NBHN has eliminated use of disposable products to decrease the hospitals’ contribution to landfills.

For instance, NBHN implemented reusable gowns, under pads and sheets.

In the kitchen, 70 percent of plastic products, such as plates and trays, have been replaced with washable materials.
The network has eliminated disposable sharps containers, replacing them with reusable containers that meet OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard.

To reduce energy consumption, the network has installed low-voltage lamps and energy-efficient lighting throughout its buildings.

Motion-detected sensors activate lighting controls so energy is not consumed when areas are vacant.

Newly constructed NBHN buildings will also come equipped with completely automated building control systems, maximizing energy efficiency.

Reducing impact, saving money
These initiatives have resulted in a big payback for NBHN.
As the first hospital network to go green in New York City, NBHN’s programs have been detailed in publications such as Materials Management Today, Today’s SurgiCenter, New York Daily News and Bronx Times.

The green cleaning and waste reduction programs have also resulted in financial savings.

Employee-related injuries declined from 15 incidents resulting in 56 lost days to three associated incidents resulting in no lost days in three years.

By eliminating disposable products, the network has realized $110,000 savings from the introduction of reusable gowns, under pads and sheets.

Another $50,000 to $100,000 per year has been saved from red bag waste education programs, reducing one-third of the regulated medical waste generated throughout the NBHN.

“What started as a commitment to improving our patients’ asthmatic conditions has resulted in several other benefits,” Lucey says. “We have seen a significant improvement in our overall operations resulting from the reduction in employee injuries, improved productivity and overall costs.”

Keith Bradley is the director of business development - healthcare for JohnsonDiversey Inc. He has held various positions with JohnsonDiversey in his 26-year career and has developed many products and programs surrounding its cleaner, disinfectant, infection control and sustainability platforms. For more information, please visit

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