Report on the "Health Care Without Harm" Workshop
Ottawa,October 21st, 2000
This workshop was organized by CAPE with support primarily from Great Lakes United. Additional funding was received from Health Care Without Harm. A total of 27 people participated in the workshop, which also constituted the educational day for the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
In addition to members of CAPE, participants included representatives from a number of major national health care organizations including
Although unable to attend because of a conflicting board meeting, the Canadian Health Care Association (formerly the Canadian Hospital Association) also expressed strong interest in being involved in on-going developments.
In addition to these major national health care organizations, representatives from a number of major environmental organizations also participated, including
The workshop began with an overview of the environmental impact of health care by Dr. Trevor Hancock, Chair of the Board of CAPE; an overview of healthcare wastes by Chris Wolnik, Senior Advisor at the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention; and a brief discussion of dioxins by Rich Whate (Health Care Without Harm) and Bruce Lourie (Pollution Probe).
Following a coffee break, four presentations were made on ways to reduce health care’s environmental impact. These included energy efficiency (Kent Waddington, Coordinator of the Energy Innovators Program (the Canadian College of Health Services Executives), pollution prevention (Chris Wolnik), mercury reduction (Leah Halgreen and Bruce Lourie, Pollution Probe), PVC alternatives (Rich Whate) and the greening of health care (Dr. Trevor Hancock).
Following lunch, two concurrent workshops were held. Both workshops included a discussion of the issue and suggestions for further action. The dioxin and mercury reduction workshop stressed the importance of creating information packages for dioxin and mercury reduction that were distilled to the essence of the issues, tailored to the audiences (physicians, surgeons, nurses, administrators, etc.), linked to websites and provided concrete examples through case studies and best practices. A "ten steps to a PVC- and mercury-free hospital" approach was recommended. The participants also stressed the importance of information systems that could monitor and show the reductions in mercury and PVC use. The group also suggested the establishment of a steering committee to further pursue this project, while recognizing that funding was required for this.
The second work group, which addressed energy efficiency and pollution prevention, suggested a number of strategies including
Following reports back from each of the two work groups, the workshop concluded with a discussion of next steps. It was agreed that a key strategy was to establish a National Coalition on Green Health Care and the participants, including those from major national health care organizations and national environmental groups, agreed that they would participate in the development of such a coalition. Other key participants were identified who should be approached to become part of the initial start-up group for the National Coalition. These include the Canadian Health Care Association, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Canadian Healthcare Engineering Society.
A discussion of priority tasks for such a Coalition included the following:
Other possible tasks for the Coalition include
Finally, participants suggested a number of more immediate tasks that need to be undertaken to get the Coalition up and running. These include
A number of other groups and organizations were suggested as future coalition members, including:
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