The Climate and Health Innovation Award recognizes a hospital or health system for innovative work that addresses the health and equity impacts of climate change. Health Care Without Harm’s Health Care Climate Council reviews award applications, looking for creative approaches to move the health sector forward in ways that have not been widely deployed. This year's 2022 awardee is Jesse Brown VA Medical Center (VAMC), in acknowledgement of their groundbreaking technology to capture waste anesthetic gas for recycling and reuse.
"The Health Care Climate Council is pleased to recognize Jesse Brown VA Medical Center for adopting this innovative technology to address greenhouse gas emissions – an issue that is unique to health care," said Bob Biggio, Boston Medical Center senior vice president of facilities and support services and Health Care Climate Council representative. "I applaud them for being among the first to get it done and make an impact. Hopefully others will follow their lead – that is really what innovation is about."
The most common inhaled anesthetic gases used for patient care in the United States have global warming potentials ranging from 130 to over 2,500 times higher than carbon dioxide, and the emissions from these gases can make up 5% of a hospital’s footprint. Facilities typically manage waste anesthetic gases using a scavenging system that vents the waste gas outside of the facility and into the atmosphere.
Jesse Brown VAMC is using an anesthetic sequestering and capturing system that captures the gas for recycling and reuse. The gas is currently being shipped to Canada for reuse as we await FDA approval in the United States. In addition to being an early adopter of this technology, the team at Jesse Brown VAMC launched Project CATCH – Capturing Anesthetics Toward Climate Health – to promote more widespread use of this technology for greater impact on climate health.
ABOVE: From left to right: Ramsee Gray, Jesse Brown VAMC anesthesia technician; Justin Macadangdang, Jesse Brown VAMC Green Environment Management System (GEMS) program manager; Charles Williams, Jesse Brown VAMC anesthesia technician.
Reflections on the project with Justin Jay Macadangdang, Jesse Brown VAMC’s Green Environmental Management Systems (GEMS) program manager
What does this achievement mean to you and your facility?
This achievement means the world to me! Not only will this method reduce Jesse Brown VAMC’s greenhouse gas emissions, but this achievement will allow our method to be shared with many other facilities. I believe this can make a significant impact in health care facilities’ climate health for the betterment of the environment.
Why did you decide to prioritize this project?
I decided to prioritize this project because it is such a new and cutting-edge method. Additionally, I believed this method was so simple that it could be easily replicated by other Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities. From the beginning, I envisioned sharing this method with other VHA facilities. I never imagined that our facility would become the model for not just other VHA facilities, but for non-VHA facilities across the nation as well.
Did Practice Greenhealth or Health Care Without Harm help you with this project?
Yes. During last year’s application process for the Environmental Excellence Award, Kaeleigh Sheehan, Practice Greenhealth’s liaison to the VA, answered all of my questions, provided guidance, and continuously checked on our progress for this project.