What Drove the Success of MD H2E?
Joan Plisko, PhD, Director
After 10 years of operation from the University of Maryland, Baltimore – seven years at the School of Nursing and three years at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the School of Medicine – MD H2E is closing December 31st 2015. MD H2E was initially developed as a short-lived statewide initiative to improve worker, patient, and community health through the elimination of mercury and toxics from aging and inefficient medical waste incinerators. The environmental and health footprint of hospitals was much larger than MD H2E staff first anticipated, so we revised our mission: to catalyze environmental health and sustainability in Maryland’s health care community.
MD H2E was a fantastic success. Here are five reasons I believe this to be true:
1. Power in the People: MD H2E cultivated and empowered a diverse set of people and created meaningful collaborations. With over 30 staff coming and going over the course of a decade, Barb Sattler, Louise Mitchell, and Joan Plisko spearheaded and managed the initiative over its lifespan. Our power was our people! We cared. The MD H2E Advisory Board was a huge attribute as well, with two members participating for the entirety – Laura Armstrong of Maryland Department of the Environment and Cecilia DeLoach of Practice Green Health.
2. Multipronged Approach: MD H2E utilized a multipronged approach to assist participants in developing and implementing programs. We conducted audits, held campaigns, wrote case studies, held on-site meeting, initiated pilot projects, launched leadership councils, and more. From the basement to the boardroom and from anesthesia to x-ray, MD H2E staff met hospital staff where they were. MD H2E staff nurses visited hospitals nurses on different shifts to deliver messages relating environment to health and MD H2E staff presented at a variety of association conferences and meetings.
3. Created Community: MD H2E created a learning and sharing community where members relied on one another for solution building and problem solving. We utilized technical resources of Practice Green Health and Health Care Without Harm to engage and connect folks regionally and nationally. For five years we held the Environmental Excellence in Health Care conference; and we launched two leadership councils: the Chesapeake Food Leadership Council and the Maryland Health Care Sustainability Leadership Council.
4. Awarded and Rewarded: MD H2E awarded and recognized participants for their successes; and publicized milestones. Over six years time we gave out 25 Trailblazer Awards to 15 distinct hospitals/health systems, representing 25 percent of the hospitals in Maryland. We also recognized Environmental Health Nurses and an Environmental Health Physician. In 2015, five Maryland hospitals were listed amongst the fifty greenest hospitals in America. MD H2E won the Practice Green Health Champion for Change award every year from 2007-2015!
5. Got the Word Out: MD H2E utilized multiple modes of communication to “get the word out” to as many interested stakeholders as possible. Over 10 years, we penned 100 environmental health and sustainability newsletters as well as 15 newsletters, dedicated specifically to sustainable foods. At the conclusion of our initiative, our list sev had grown to 2,000 people.
Overall, our power was in our people. We created and maintained community and enjoyed every moment of it. And our timing was just right!
Thanks to all of you for being part of this fantastic community and journey.