Mayo Clinic and World Environment Day
June 11, 2021 – By Jared Mueller, Director – Mayo Clinic Innovation Exchange
Environmental sustainability is at the forefront of Mayo Clinic’s practice of medicine. Public health and environmental health remain inextricably linked: in recent decades, Mayo has intensified its work to trim energy and water consumption, and to conserve resources in its everyday work. Strained global supply chains during the pandemic have proven that input-efficient operations are also resilient operations.
In recognition of World Environment Day this month, the Exchange team worked with physician and allied health leaders on Mayo’s Green Committee and in Mayo’s Office of Sustainability to share a small sample of the dozens of sustainability initiatives across Mayo Clinic. Here is a small subset of that work, across four themes.
Building and Construction
The Innovation Exchange team has the privilege of working in Mayo Clinic in Florida’s Discovery and Innovation Building, an energy-efficient facility with distinctive solar panel covered parking. Several Mayo Clinic Health System sites in Minnesota and Wisconsin have pursued geothermal building designs, in order to reduce energy needs for heating and cooling. Mayo Clinic’s facilities in Rochester, Minnesota alone now save more than $7 million annually by reducing energy-per-square-foot consumption by more than 22%, as compared to 2010 levels.
Recycling and Waste Diversion
Mayo Clinic has launched systems to recycle tools as complex as surgical devices, and as simple as cardboard and aluminum cans. Reprocessing of surgical products and devices has diverted over 22,000 pounds of waste from landfills annually. In recent years, Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus has diverted more than 1 million pounds of unconsumed food annually for conversion into livestock feed. Globally, food waste has been estimated to generate 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions — more than the airline industry — so minimizing waste is central to Mayo Clinic’s environmental goals.
Remote and Hybrid Work Models
In 2020 and 2021, Mayo Clinic’s leadership has offered individual teams greater flexibility in pursuing remote and hybrid work models. For many of the Mayo staff who drive to work, this flexibility has reduced the monthly environmental burden of their commutes. Over time, a leaner office footprint will also reduce Mayo Clinic’s need to construct, heat, and light non-patient-facing space. Traffic patterns near Mayo’s larger sites will improve at peak times, saving fuel (and time) for Mayo employees, patients, and others alike.
Many Mayo Clinic Platform initiatives promise to reduce the travel burden of healthcare. Reducing long-duration hospital stays allows Mayo Clinic to serve more patients without constructing as many new inpatient rooms and buildings: patients will be able to spend more nights healing in their own beds, rather than in hospital beds. Better health outcomes and lower readmission rates associated with higher acuity care in the home also means fewer trips to the hospital. Patients who prefer telemedicine visits in certain cases are also increasingly able to save time, fuel, and vehicle wear-and-tear while receiving hospital-level care from home.
Call for Healthcare Innovations
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