The COVID-19 ‘Green’ Lining

Kendra Rainford, August 27, 2020

How the Shift to Virtual Care has Impacted the Environment

As a direct result of the ongoing Pandemic, healthcare organizations (among other industries) have been forced to rapidly and drastically shift the way that they communicate with their stakeholders. While this challenging and unprecedented response has been a demanding task for all who are tirelessly responding, perhaps a source of motivation has been the silver (or green) lining stemming from the positive environmental impacts associated with delivering services virtually.

With so many people staying home, there has been a downward plunge in carbon emissions associated with a significant reduction in transportation. At West Park, many patient care delivery and operational activities were quickly shifted to a virtual platform to ensure continuation of services and excellent care, thus reducing transportation to and from the Centre.

Liz Udler, a physiotherapist in West Park Healthcare Centre’s Rehab Plus describes her experience using virtual care during the COVID-19 Pandemic: “It is reassuring to know that offering virtual care to patients is an evidence based way to achieve similar rehabilitation outcomes when compared to face-to-face appointments” said Liz.  “In the outpatient department, my colleagues and I tried to accommodate our patients by offering various ways to interact, including; phone, email, and video. My patients have reported high levels of satisfaction and it has been an interesting learning opportunity to adapt our practice in a virtual environment”, Liz concludes.

The University of Toronto (U of T) has recently implemented a Centre for Sustainable Health Systems, of which West Park’s President and CEO, Anne-Marie Malek, is a member of stewardship. The U of T Centre for Sustainable Health Systems recently partnered with Canada Health Infoway to host a virtual seminar to showcase the environmental benefits associated with virtual care. During this session, the Centre for Sustainable Health Systems demonstrates that virtual care is carbon cost effective if there is a need for a patient to travel at least 3.6 km for a 1 hour appointment. They also describe the positive feedback loop connected to virtual care. Reduced carbon emissions results in mitigation of climate change associated impacts, which is demonstrated in the included graphic.

While the virtual response required for COVID-19 has been paramount, it has illustrated opportunities for alternative and innovative methods of care that have positive environmental benefits. These lessons learned could help inform the future of virtual care operations at West Park Healthcare Centre and within the Canadian healthcare system overall.

The Environmental Committee is Keeping It Green – Virtually!

The Environmental Sustainability Committee has reconvened using a virtual platform and is diligently monitoring the environmental impacts associated with the response to the COVID-19 Pandemic at the Centre. Members are actively evaluating opportunities to improve the Centre’s response to COVID-19 by identifying opportunities to continuously Reduce, Reuse & Recycle where safe and appropriate to do so.

Stay tuned for exciting initiatives underway and for updates on how you can help West Park ‘Keep It Green’ during these unusual times.

West Park Named Green Hospital of the Year!

Mark Palmer, January 3, 2020

View this story and more at westpark.org.

In recognition of its commitment to environmental stewardship in greening its internal health care practices, West Park has received this year’s Green Health Care Award naming us 2018 Green Hospital of the Year (non-acute) by the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care.

The award is based on a comprehensive scorecard by which each participating hospital across Canada is measured. The scorecard reviews metrics related to energy use, water generation, recycling rate, leadership, policy and planning and more. West Park is proud to report the following:

•  A 21.1% year-over-year decrease in waste generation
•  A 4.1% year-over-year decrease in water usage
•  A 3rd consecutive year of below average energy use intensity (earning West Park an honourable mention in this category)

“The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change’s annual report for 2019 recently noted that Canada’s healthcare sector was the third-highest per-capita greenhouse gas emitter in the world [only behind The US and Japan] so we are pleased that our efforts have produced excellent results,” said Shelley Ditty, Vice President Campus Development and Support Services. “As we undergo construction of our new hospital development project we will maintain our focus on environmental sustainability.”

The Coalition recognized this focus by noting that West Park has made significant progress in all six policy and planning areas; environmentally preferable purchasing, toxins management, sustainable construction/renovation, energy, waste and water. The Centre’s scorecard also notes that leadership is reflected through commitment, support and outreach all of which can be attributed to management and staff efforts and by the presence of West Park’s Environmental Committee.

The committee has a number of important plans for 2020 including efforts to further decrease the use of single-use plastics and the planning of a second annual sustainability fair for staff and patients. “The Centre’s Environmental Committee is always looking for new and exciting ideas to raise awareness about the importance of doing our part to minimize our carbon footprint.” stated Diane Zdybal, Director of Support Services.

Congratulations everyone at West Park for Keeping it Green!

West Park Holiday Market – With a Green Twist

Mark Palmer

This year on December 12, West Park presented a festive, fun, green holiday event for staff and patients – the West Park Holiday Market.

Due to the current campus construction, the hospital’s perennial Winterfest is hibernating for the next few years, but West Park partnered with the hospital’s Environmental Committee to offer a unique holiday experience inspired by the many holiday markets that happen every year in Toronto.

West Park’s Holiday Market included several vendors, including local environmentally sustainable companies and the Rotary Club’s holiday cake, cookie, and gingerbread house sale, as well as Recreation Therapy’s Helping Hands Beeswax Paper and Gemstone Bracelet sale. The Holiday Market also featured a food drive collection for the Daily Bread Food Bank, a holiday photo-booth, and travelling carolers to visit patients on their units. Staff members and patients experienced a traditionally decorated market with holiday music, while having their chance to buy unique gifts and win prizes!

Busy As Bees for Sustainability

Patients from West Park’s Recreation Therapy were busy as bees leading up to the holidays, working away in their workshop to make specialty gifts that give back.

Introducing their creations at the West Park Holiday Market on Dec. 12, Recreation Therapy sold handmade beeswax food wraps along with handcrafted gemstone bracelets, with 100 per cent of proceeds going to the West Park Foundation.

“Our patients were adamant about wanting all of the money made from the sale to go to the Foundation,” says Naomi Max, a recreation therapy assistant, who says the patients wanted to use their Helping Hands program budget towards the cost of materials to accomplish their fundraising efforts.

The project was decided upon back in September, and patients were working almost every week to achieve their goal of making at least 100 beeswax food wraps. The extensive process included cutting up fabric – which took three weeks alone – smashing pine nuts to create resin, melting the ingredients, coating the fabric, and baking and drying the fabric.

The food wraps are 100 per cent organic, food safe, and environmentally friendly, consisting only of fabric, organic beeswax, organic pine resin, and organic jojoba oil. The food wraps were available in various sizes, colours and patterns, with each sheet selling for $5 or three sheets for $12.

The gift that keeps on giving, the food wraps should last up to a year, with the donated cost going much further towards the new hospital build. Gemstone bracelets, made from high-quality stones and beads, varied in price – depending on the beads used – from $10 to $20. They also included messages of motivation and aspiration, each one a unique representation of the patient who made it. 

Life is Better at the Lake…

Kendra Rainford, September 16, 2019

Hats off to our Environmental Committee as they helped clean up Sunnyside Beach on Saturday, September 14, 2019. The external event facilitated by Parley for the Oceans, is one of the 50 beach clean-ups happening coast to coast throughout the summer. Alongside dozens of other community members, a group from our very own Environmental Committee spent the morning retrieving everything from beads of Styrofoam scattered in the sand, to plastic straws and bottle caps lodged in driftwood. The plastic retrieved from the now-much-cleaner shoreline has been given a second chance to be upcycled and (more importantly) kept out of our beautiful Lake Ontario.

Kudos to West Park Environmental Committee members Clara Phillips, Jay Vagh and John Richmond for their participation. Thank you for making a difference!

Recreation Therapy is Helping West Park to Keep it GREEN!

Mark Palmer, August 7, 2019

View this story and more at westpark.org.

Recreation Therapy has been making a conscious effort to monitor the resources used during programs to ensure the department is operating in an environmentally responsible manner. “We are all conscious of environmentally sustainable operations,” says Naomi Max, Environmental Committee member and Recreation Therapy Assistant. “Over the last few months the Recreation Therapy team has worked to reduce, reuse and recycle resources in programming in many creative ways to eliminate unnecessary waste” says Naomi.  

The most environmentally sustainable option is to reduce and reuse where possible. One resource all West Park team members are actively trying to use less of is: paper. The recreation therapy team significantly decreased their paper usage by reducing the amount of Program Calendars printed at the Centre. Formerly, 260 legal-sized Program Calendars were printed and distributed to clinical areas and patients each month. Now patients receive the calendar in an electronic format by e-mail and only one paper copy is distributed per unit. In addition to the positive environmental impact, the patient feedback was that the electronic text is much larger and more accessible to read for all.  

Recreation therapy is even greening the garden program with an in-house curricular economy supported by cross-programming. In the gardening program, patients grow vegetables and herbs on site. Later, they will be harvested and used for cooking programs in recreation therapy. “We grow everything, from cucumbers, to peppers and herbs!” says Naomi. This eliminates the need for vegetables to be transported or purchased for certain programs and reduces packaging purchased that comes with most grocery store veggies.  It doesn’t get fresher that that!

Pub night has even gone green! Pub night is a weekly social event enjoyed by many West Park patients but the Recreation team couldn’t help but notice how many styrofoam and plastic cups are being generated at each event. So the team made the switch to eco stripe compostable cups and ordered a composting bin to dispose of all waste generated in an environmentally responsible way.

In addition to these great greening strategies, Recreation Therapy is constantly monitoring their craft supply inventory to eliminate unnecessary purchases and reduce waste. One craft allowed West Park patients to unleash their inner artist while painting. Their canvas? Empty wine bottles from pub night!

In another program patients designed succulent terrariums. These low-maintenance terrarium arrangements are now used as beautiful living centerpieces at other Recreation Therapy events.

But the greening doesn’t stop there… this last green craft is sure to melt your dog-goneheart!

Recreation Therapy participates in a community program they call ‘Helping Hands’ where patients craft materials or items that can be used by those in need within our community. Using only a recent donation of clean mix-matched colorful socks, several yards of scrap material and of course, a lot of love – the West Park Recreation therapy team and patients are making hundreds of 100% recycled puppy and dog toys for all of our four-legged friends in need at the Toronto Humane Society. What a treat!

Pictured below are Naomi Max’s dogs, Cashew and Bam Bam, happily testing the product prototypes!

Please join the Environmental Committee in acknowledging the West Park Healthcare Centre Recreation Therapy team in their continuous effort and dedication to support Sustainable Healthcare Operations every day!

Does your department or program make efforts to keep it green during operations? Let us know! Email Kendra.rainford@westpark.org to share your tips and tricks with the Centre!

Help West Park Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles

Mark Palmer, July 29, 2019

View this story and more at westpark.org.

Did you know?

Less than 11% of plastic in Canada is recycled.

Approximately 90% of all plastic used in Canada finds its way to landfills, green spaces, communities and water posing threat to the environment. 

The Environmental Committee is currently reviewing all plastic waste being generated in the Centre and creating a plan of action to reduce, reuse and recycle anywhere possible! Stay tuned for more updates on exciting environmental projects taking place!

Helping to Eliminate Plastic!

West Park Healthcare Centre employees, physicians and volunteers are helping eliminate single-use plastics by committing to the use a reusable water bottle. On July 25 all were encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottles to the  Environmental Committee display outside the Cafeteria to fill their reusable water bottle with free refreashments. As well, Cool straw was on location selling reusable stainless steel cups, water bottles and other eco-products to help eliminate single-use plastics.


References:

Environmental Defence Canada. Canada’s Plastic Problem. https://environmentaldefence.ca/canadas-plastic-pollution-problem/. 2019

Alliance for the Great Lakes. 5 Ways Plastic Pollutions is Different in the Great Lakes. https://greatlakes.org/2018/06/5-ways-plastic-pollution-is-different-in-the-great-lakes/.  2019

2019 Environmental Fair & Eco Market

Kendra Rainford

On April 25th, The Environmental Committee was excited to present the 2nd Annual West Park Healthcare Centre Environmental Fair. The Eco Market featured local and environmentally sustainable vendors:

Cool Straw was on site selling savvy solutions for a sustainable home. Such items for sale included: reusable straws and bamboo dental and kitchen products. Starter kits were available at the fair for $20 to help eliminate over 1000 pieces of plastic/year in your household! 

Click here to view the Cool Straw website.

The Bee Shop was selling various honey products, including items such as raw honey, creamed honey, lip balms and honey comb. The Bee Shop has supported urban bee keeping in Toronto for over 16 years!

Click here to view The Bee Shop website.

Unboxed Market had set up a pop-up farm market and sold fresh and local produce. Unboxed Market is Toronto’s first ever zero waste grocery store. Shop fresh, local produce including: apples, oranges, potatoes, peppers and even reusable produce bags. 

Click here to view the Unboxed Market website.


PRIZES WON & E-WASTE RECYCLED! 

Informative sustainability-related stands were available to learn how wekeep it GREEN at West Park. You could receive tickets for every stand visited for a chance to win gift cards and green prizes!

Also, the fair was collecting electronic waste from home, including unwanted computers, laptop, printers and cellphones, to be recycled with the ERA. All those who donated e-waste were entered into a draw for a chance to win a prize!

We hope to see you at our next annual Environmental Fair – more info and dates to come!

‘Sleep’ Mode Saves Energy!

Kendra Rainford, March 6, 2019

Help save energy… it takes BEAR-ly any time!

West Park is working to reduce its energy usage by putting our computers into ‘SLEEP’ mode while not in use.

When you place your computer in ‘SLEEP’ mode it uses the least amount of power necessary. When the computer is turned back on, the user can immediately begin working where they left off in just a second or two!

By choosing ‘SLEEP’ mode, West Park staff is helping to break BEARiers with our sustainability goals!

West Park Receives Greening Healthcare Award!

April, 2018

WEST PARK BECOMES A MEMBER OF THE 5% CLUB.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) announced that West Park Healthcare Centre has been awarded the Greening Health Care 5 % Club Award.

The award, created through the TRCA’s Greening Health Care Program, recognizes hospitals that have successfully reduced their total energy consumption by at least 5% relative to their baseline.

Winners of this award have shown a commitment in achieving energy conservation at their facilities and demonstrated the effectiveness of performance based conservation.

“We would like to congratulate your hospital for this achievement and your commitment to addressing energy conservation and the fight against climate change,” said Gemma Stott-Correia, Coordinator with the Community Transformation Programs and Watershed Strategies Division of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. “We hope that this accomplishment further motivates energy conservation through improvements in operations and retrofit projects within your facility.”

“This award signifies West Park’s continued commitment to protecting the environment through responsible stewardship of our resources,” said Diane Zdybal, Director of Support Services for West Park. “Conservation is a community effort and West Park staff continue to do their part by turning off lights and switching electronic devices off when not in use. We continue to explore opportunities to make our buildings as energy efficient as possible as we look to building one of the most energy efficient hospitals in Ontario.”

“Congratulations to the entire Operations and Logistics team, the Environmental Committee and the staff and patients at West Park for your hard work and commitment to “greening!” said Anne-Marie Malek, West Park President & CEO. 

Awards will be presented at the Greening Health Care Forum on May 30, 2018.