Pollution and climate change impact health in diverse and negative ways, and healthcare providers have taken notice. In the Portland metro area, Legacy Health sees this connection and has been working for years to reduce their impact and raise awareness about environmental health. In Clark County, the Legacy Health Salmon Creek Medical Center was Green Business certified in 2013 for their unique sustainability projects.
Hospitals are challenged to reduce their waste while caring for their patients. To divert waste from the landfill, Legacy Health has their own plastics sorting facility that sorts traditionally non-recyclable plastics, including large amounts of packaging from sterile medical equipment. The facility opened in 1996 and today is managed and staffed through Full Life, an organization that employs disabled adults. The program is innovative because it is diverting waste from the landfill and creating revenue, while providing good jobs for disabled citizens.
More recently in 2017, the Salmon Creek Medical Center opened a healing garden to give patients a tranquil, toxin-free nature space to visit. Nature can have tangible health benefits, and Legacy wants to provide that healing opportunity for their patients. Upon creation, the project was Sustainable SITES certified, which is an international landscape certification program.
Among these projects, Legacy Health Salmon Creek Medical Center maintains a green team, composts food scraps, and practices green purchasing. In further recognition of their sustainability practices, several Legacy Health hospitals, including the Salmon Creek Medical Center, were awarded the 2016 Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change Award. Legacy's achievements for sustainability are diverse, and show the clear connection between the environment and public health.