New Sustainable Healthcare Certification for U.S. Hospitals to launch Jan. 1, 2024
In the past three years, 81% of primary care clinic staff reported that their clinic experienced some kind of disruption due to extreme weather events later attributed to climate change, according to a national survey. Further, fewer than one-fifth of those staff felt their clinic was “very resilient.”
Acting upon requests from healthcare organizations that want to accelerate their sustainable practices and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, The Joint Commission is launching a voluntary Sustainable Healthcare Certification (SHC) program for both accredited and nonaccredited U.S. hospitals and critical access hospitals, effective Jan. 1, 2024. The SHC program provides a framework to help organizations expand or continue their decarbonization efforts and to receive public recognition for their commitment and achievements in contributing to environmental sustainability.
The certification’s national standards and elements of performance establish needed structure, rigor and accountability to accelerate the industry’s growing sustainability efforts. The program requires:
- Setting priorities and governance for sustainability initiatives.
- Creating baselines to measure three sources of GHG emissions.
- Developing an action plan to reduce those sources.
Healthcare organizations that prioritize sustainability gain meaningful, lasting benefits — such as cost savings, operating efficiencies, staff recruitment and retention, and potential payments and tax credits through recent federal incentives. Decarbonization also is an imperative for improving healthcare equity and patient safety, as the individuals least able to compensate for the effects of the climate are already burdened with adverse social determinants of health.
“We want to work with the momentum of healthcare organizations leading the way in sustainability excellence – inspiring and guiding others that want to prioritize greener practices,” says Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA, MACP, FACMI, president and chief executive officer, The Joint Commission Enterprise. “Healthcare is one of the largest sectors in the United States and one dedicated to improving people’s health and well-being. Now is the time for The Joint Commission to take its place among other leading healthcare organizations to help accelerate environmental sustainability. Together, we can collectively reduce the healthcare sector’s carbon footprint and reduce hospital visits, illnesses, premature deaths and medical costs from severe weather events and other climate impacts.”
The Joint Commission also has launched an online Sustainable Healthcare Resource Center. The Resource Center provides key strategies, tools, literature, videos and links to help organizations get started on sustainability, as well as innovative solutions for those that have already taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint. It can assist hospitals as they prepare for SHC and serve as a forum to share and learn from others.
Learn more about the new SHC program.