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Sustainable care in the St. Antonius Heart Center Netherlands: from awareness to action

The question of whether it is necessary has long ceased to be relevant. Most hospital employees know that healthcare must be more sustainable. But how? Where do you start? And how far will you go in that? These kinds of dilemmas can be paralyzing, making it difficult for organizations to get started. Then they linger in 'awareness'. Marc van Manen and Laura Koot recently showed how care organizations can turn this into action during the Care Vision Congress Sustainable and Circular Care 2023 in Woerden.

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Marc van Manen is department head of the Cathlab St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein and Laura Koot is a consultant at Medtronic Integrated Health Solutions (IHS). Medtronic is a partner that the hospital has been working with for many years. As a major partner in healthcare worldwide, Medtronic feels responsible to contribute to the sustainability transition in healthcare. To this end, Medtronic makes its own products and processes more sustainable. Medtronic is also working closely with hospitals to accelerate the transition there as well.

The St. Antonius Hospital started the Sustainable Antonius program in 2022 and the Heart Center was one of the first to get started. A project group was set up together with Medtronic. “Three questions were asked,” explains Laura Koot. “What is our footprint? How can we reduce our footprint? And how do we safeguard sustainability in the organization?”
“To reduce the footprint, we developed an approach to collect best practices inside and outside the hospital, create a sustainability roadmap and design ways to structurally monitor and measure sustainability, explains Marc van Manen.

Bananas and jeans
But first that current footprint. This is still quite abstract. The participants of the St. Antonius and Medtronic session are therefore asked to think in a playful way about the footprint (in kilograms of CO2 equivalent[1] emissions) of a banana, jeans, a hospital bed and that of the St. Antonius Heart Center on an annual basis. The latter is about 1,300 tons of CO2e, which is equivalent to 215,000 jeans or more than 16 million bananas! The total footprint of 1,300 tonnes is an estimate based on a limited number of parameters, explains Laura Koot. “That was a conscious choice.” You can continue to calculate and estimate, but that should not paralyze you to take action, adds Marc van Manen. “We looked at energy consumption, travel movements and waste.” The conclusions? Energy consumption has by far the largest share (845 tons), travel movements about half of that and waste in the Cathlab is very little (39 tons). “The latter surprised us,” says Marc van Manen.
Quick wins
We then looked at where the quick wins were. Laura Koot: “These included changing standard procedure packages. These packages used by the Heart Center contained drapes that were always thrown away immediately. We asked the supplier if they wanted to change that.” Other gains were in adapting standard work routines. For example, the use of all ultrasound equipment in the heart function department was reduced by one hour per device per day. This led to a reduction in energy consumption and tens of kilos less CO2 emissions. “Many of these projects show immediate results, which gives employees a positive feeling about sustainability and ensures that employees remain involved in sustainability initiatives,” Marc van Manen indicates. During sessions with employees, countless ideas and saving tips come up, such as turning off the lights during the afternoon rest time in the nursing ward and recycling polypropylene in the Cath Lab.

Project calendar
“Based on the estimated impact and feasibility of various activities, we have drawn up a project calendar for the coming year,” says Laura Koot. “It showed that we can achieve a CO2 reduction of 8.5 percent in 2023 on the total footprint of the Heart Center.” A Green Team has been formed from the project group. Marc van Manen: “In addition, we have developed a sustainability dashboard, which is maintained by a team head and discussed at every meeting of the Green Team. We have also set up a governance system based on KPIs.” Measuring is knowing, after all, and numbers also help with motivation. But actually it's all about taking a good look at all your actions, says Laura Koot. “Which ones are nonsensical? Which are wasteful? Which ones take a lot of time?”
Medtronic, one of the largest suppliers of medical devices, has a multi-year partnership with the St. Anthony Heart Center. Together they outline some rapid successes in the Heart Center. The key to this lies in involvement with the entire organization. From the board of directors, but especially on the shop floor. Thirteen green teams are now active there. The motto is 'just do it' and the lesson is to start small and then expand step by step. In this way, the transition from awareness to action seems to work well in the hospital. “But we are not there yet”, concludes Marc van Manen. “We are taking the next steps together with as many others as possible, both inside and outside our hospital. You can only make an impact together.”

Do you agree?

17 more agrees trigger contact with the recipient

  • Joyce Waturu

    48 w

    Well done Mark and Laura for the extensive education and awareness campaign.

    • Richard Orengo

      48 w

      Impact is created when people work together.

      • zelda ninga

        48 w

        '' just do it"

        • Elizabeth Gathigia

          48 w

          This is great, positive changes can only happen when we work together

          • Munene Mugambi

            48 w

            A great process for sustainability by this hospital


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