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Do Sustainable Hospitals Increase Patient Welfare?

Hershey Children's Sustainable HospitalAcross the country hospitals are going green with the goal of creating healthier environments for patients and communities. The Penn State Hershey Medical Center is joining in on these green endeavors by committing to working towards LEED certification on all new building projects. The recent construction on the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital exemplifies this dedication as it nears completion.

The Children's Hospital is being designed to achieve LEED certification by targeting five key areas: sustainable site development, water conservation, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Children's Hospital Green Roofing

Some of the environmental design features are:

1.  Natural lighting, incorporated throughout the facility, and a central atrium;

2.  Sustainable site design — the hospital's proximity to other buildings on the Penn State Hershey Medical Center campus helps to preserve existing land conditions, facilitate walkability, and condense the use of impervious surfaces;

3.  Green roofing, including a rooftop garden, meditation area, and courtyard viewable from hematology/oncology patients' rooms.

The medical center hopes to create an environmentally friendly atmosphere that promotes both physical and spiritual healing. One of the main reasons for taking a greener approach to health care is the positive impact it can have on patients' health. Hospitals that have transitioned into becoming greener have realized benefits that surpass financial gains from increasing energy efficiencies, such as improved patient outcomes, increased staff health and reduced turnover, and community benefits due to reducing environmental impacts. Examples of increases in patients and staff well being include decreases in the length of patient stays for patients in sunlit rooms and decreased tuberculin conversion for employees working in patient rooms with better ventilation.

What are your thoughts; do you think the greening of hospitals can increase patient welfare?

Credits: Images by Alex Riemondy. Data linked to sources.