Saturday, December 9

La Paz, an example of a sustainable hospital

The Madrid Hospital de La Paz has become the first health institution (and the tenth in Spain) to achieve the ODS certification issued by AENOR (Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification).

“The reason for being of a hospital is to improve the health of the population, but we also want to do it through quality employment and being sustainable, betting on innovation and research”. Susana Reverter, responsible for the 2030 agenda and SDGs at Hospital La Paz, explains that the AENOR SDG certificate that the Madrid health institution has just achieved “certifies that the hospital is contributing to its own general sustainability strategy and, specifically, with the
UN Sustainable Development Goalsespecially through the three that La Paz has identified as priorities” (3, 8 and 9).

These three strategic objectives were established after conducting a survey of all stakeholders (suppliers, patients, workers, management…). A work that starts in the year 2000.

“The first analysis we did was environmental,” says Reverter, who recalls that in 2005 the hospital was a pioneer in creating the first clean point or the selective collection of packaging. “In 2015 we created the equality commission and, two years later, we implemented the first plan with this last objective”, recalls this person in charge as some of the milestones that have been marking the hospital’s strategy.

“All we are doing now is ordering what has already been done in the hospital and that affects each of these 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” he stresses. In addition, the certification associated with the organization’s plans also establishes the next steps to be taken. “A lot has been done in the field of waste and the environment, but now we still have a lot to do, like calculating the carbon footprint, for example,” she details.

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17 buildings and four hospital centers

In addition, Reverter assures that in the project of the new hospital that is being worked on, all these aspects are contemplated. It should be remembered that Hospital La Paz is one of the most important and largest health complexes in Spain. Opened in July 1964, the complex has changed and grown over the years. At the moment it is distributed over 17 buildings and four large hospitals: the General Hospital, the Maternal Hospital, the Children’s Hospital and the Traumatology and Rehabilitation Hospital.

For the audit and certification of AENOR, those responsible have analyzed the situation and have aligned the objectives with the strategic plan, so that they must be applied in the different healthcare processes of the hospital. In all of them, it is necessary to identify which SDGs are involved.

At this point, Reverter recognizes that, once the objectives and challenges have been identified, the work being done is one of communication and awareness. “There is an important task of explaining what the 2030 agenda is, what the Sustainable Development Goals are and how to apply them in our day-to-day lives,” acknowledges Susana Reverter.

The objective is that from the moment a patient enters the hospital until they leave, all the departments involved (assistance, cleaning, communication, research…) know which are the SDGs that affect them and how they can apply them in their day to day .

In this awareness work, the Hospital is also collecting the concerns of the different professionals and, based on them, working groups are being established to improve routines. “We are studying whether the use of certain plastics can be changed, another is focused on international cooperation, another to recover material from clinical trials, another for food waste, another for recycling in the operating room (which is more complicated than in the rest of the hospital…”, exposes this manager. All this will lead to having tangible and measurable data with which to be able to make evaluations and be able to continue making decisions.

“We are not facing a fashion”

Susana Reverter explains that they were recently invited to give a talk at a clinical session to present their plans regarding sustainability. “We stated that we are not facing a trend. Climate change is a reality and either we do something now, or future generations are going to have a very difficult time”. For this reason, she assures that “you need an avalanche of actions, make decisions day by day and in all areas”.

That is why also in the hospital “we use local and fair trade products”, Small actions that, according to her, add up. Turning off the light when leaving the offices, closing the water taps, changing the hospital’s lighting to make it more efficient or replacing light bulbs with LEDs are other actions that the hospital is taking.

Reverter also ensures that implementing all these measures is not easy. For example, in the case of lights, it was studied to put systems so that they would only turn on when there was traffic of people. “But this is a hospital. There are many people who work at night. You can’t have a dark corridor and the nurse has to pass by, ”he exposes as an example.

In addition, and also thinking about the accessibility of all people, there are measures that cannot be implemented by the majority. “We notify of appointments by SMS, but we have a much larger population to which we have to continue giving reports and appointments on paper, because they can’t manage with digital media.”

Certification as a guide to good practice

This certification achieved by the hospital is a model created by AENOR based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the UN. With this guide, it is intended to offer a management model, as well as a series of guidelines, that interested companies must comply with in order to comply with these SDGs and help transform the economy and society.

In other words, this certification model is a guide to good practices to cover all the highlighted aspects. The certifying company ensures that, with this certification, it is intended to convey a message of trust and guarantee that companies comply with a series of sustainable development requirements.

According to AENOR, this certificate allows companies that request it to have a global and internationally accepted certification scheme for sustainability management and transfer this commitment to the interested parties. In addition, it ensures that obtaining it is compatible with other certificates, whether voluntary or regulatory (such as non-financial information or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

To receive this certification, organizations have to identify which SDGs they are contributing to with their activity and build a sustainability strategy on that.

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