SAN DIEGO–Innovative design and conservation efforts at Palomar Health, San Diego county’s largest health care district, continue to garner attention and accolades throughout the country with the most recent honor coming from Becker’s Hospital Review.
The healthcare industry publication that offers cutting-edge business and legal news, as well as analyses of health systems, has placed Palomar Medical Center, Palomar Health’s flagship facility, on its list of the 50 greenest hospitals in the United States.
According to Becker’s, Palomar Health, which opened Palomar Medical Center in 2012, is one of the “forward-thinking healthcare organizations that regards ecological health, green initiatives and environmental stewardship as foundational pieces of its mission.” In recognizing Palomar Health, Becker’s cited the incorporation of evidence-based sustainable elements into the design of center, including courtyards, natural light, a green roof and extensive use of LED lights. It also noted that health system staff is now educating other professionals on how to build and operate “hospitals of the future.”
Hospitals are typically the most energy-intensive buildings in the country, so to develop its list the Becker’s Hospital Review team researched and analyzed sustainability information from sources including Health Care Without Harm, Practice Greenhealth, Healthier Hospitals Initiative, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Palomar Medical Center is the only hospital in Southern California to make the list.
“We are very proud to be regarded as one of the most environmentally-friendly hospitals not only in Southern California, but in the country,” states Palomar Health’s Sustainability Manager Barbara Hamilton. “Our efforts have a positive impact on our patients, on our employees, and ultimately on our community. We are constantly looking for new ways to demonstrate the connection between human health and the environment. And many different entities are noticing. This past year we were also honored for offering some of the best new sustainable transportation benefits in the San Diego healthcare sector.”
According to Hamilton, San Diego County’s Association of Governments recently presented the hospital system with its iCommute Diamond Award for Best New Program. Palomar Health established a multi-pronged strategy to reduce employee traffic emissions and parking congestion. The creative plan includes: pre-tax transportation savings accounts and transit pass subsidies for employees; a partnership with North County Transit District to subsidize the Breeze (bus) Route 353 which travels between the two Escondido facilities; vanpool organization and preferred parking; and an annual Bike to Work event with refreshments at “pit stops” for staff members who participate.
Hamilton also notes that for three consecutive years, Palomar Health has received Environmental Excellence honors from Practice Greenhealth. The most recent was awarded in April, 2013, when Pomerado Hospital and Palomar Health Downtown Campus were recognized as Partners for Change.
“We aren’t striving for awards,” says Hamilton, “we are striving for a standard in sustainability, innovation and excellence. When you have an executive team that encourages its staff to be conscious of the environment and provides for on-going conservation education, it makes a difference. We know we have a long way to go in our effort to be green, but hopefully our success so far will be inspiration for other health care organizations to follow.”
Palomar Health is the largest public health-care district by area in California and the most comprehensive health care delivery system in northern San Diego County. It is governed by a publicly-elected board of directors, and its primary San Diego County has more than 500,000 residents.
Palomar Health has several facilities, including hospitals in Escondido and Poway, a skilled nursing facility in Poway, as well as Palomar Health expresscare clinics in Escondido, Rancho Penasquitos, San Elijo Hills and Temecula.