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Sustained success: Atlantic Health System lauded nationally for environmental achievements

June 28, 2024

Atlantic Health System is among the first to be recognized by The Joint Commission; one of only 10 systems recognized nationwide by Practice Greenhealth

MORRISTOWN, NJ - June 2024 – Atlantic Health System was recently recognized for continued high achievements in environmental sustainability by two leading health care organizations.

Atlantic Health System earned The Joint Commission’s Sustainable Healthcare Certification (SHC) by prioritizing environmental sustainability through decarbonization efforts. The certification demonstrates Atlantic Health System’s achievement in establishing structure, rigor and accountability to accelerate these efforts. This was the first year that The Joint Commission offered the SHC program.

The health care industry accounts for nearly 9% of the nation’s carbon emissions. In reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, organizations commit to cost-effective and efficient operations that seek to address climate change and the impacts that climate-related events can have on individuals.

Atlantic Health System underwent a virtual review in which a team of Joint Commission reviewers evaluated compliance with related certification standards including the organization’s contribution toward global sustainability, its baselines for measuring three sources of GHG emissions and its actionable plans for reducing them.

“Sustainable Healthcare Certification recognizes healthcare organizations committed to striving for excellence and fostering continuous improvement in patient safety, quality of care and environmental sustainability,” says Ken Grubbs, DNP, MBA, RN, executive vice president of Accreditation and Certification Operations and chief nursing officer, The Joint Commission. “We commend Atlantic Health System for using The Joint Commission’s certification process to enact sustainable practices and utilize resources that positively benefit patients and the environment.”

The SHC from The Joint Commission was received closely after Atlantic Health System again received numerous recognitions from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care, highlighting success in making health care operations greener.

Atlantic Health System was one of only 10 health systems in the United States and the only one from New Jersey in 2024 to receive Practice Greenhealth’s prestigious System for Change award, recognizing the health care organization’s accomplishments in environmental sustainability. Each of Atlantic Health System’s medical centers also received Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth:

  • Atlantic Health System’s Chilton Medical Center, Hackettstown Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, Newton Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center received the Greenhealth Emerald Award, which recognizes outstanding hospitals from within the Partner for Change applicants. This competitive award recognizes the top 20 percent of applicants and is focused on advanced sustainability programs and exemplary scores in a range of categories.
  • Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center Ambulatory Surgery Center (located adjacent to the hospital) and its Ambulatory Surgery Center at Rockaway received The Greenhealth Partner for Change Award recognizing superior performance in environmental sustainability, covering a range of different sustainability programs and activities. Winners have also made substantive progress on mercury elimination.
  • Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center and the Ambulatory Surgery Center at Rockaway received the Greening the OR Recognition Award, which honors facilities that have made substantial progress in reducing the impact of the surgical environment.
  • The Ambulatory Surgery Center at Rockaway also received the Making Medicine Mercury Free Award which recognizes hospitals that have virtually eliminated mercury from their facilities and have made a commitment to continue to be “mercury free.”
  • Chilton Medical Center was also honored with recognition in the special category, Circles of Excellence Award - Water

These recognitions are among the latest accolades for Atlantic Health System’s long-standing commitment to finding innovative solutions designed to lower the New Jersey-based health care organization’s impact on the environment – from recycling to utilizing environmentally-friendly materials throughout the organization.

“Sustainability is more than a series of isolated efforts – it needs to be a continuous philosophy that is integrated in nearly every part of our operations,” said Carolyn Brown-Dancy, executive director of health and safety-sustainability for Atlantic Health System. “Our team members have truly embraced sustainability as part of our culture, and these recognitions reflect that commitment.”

The organization is lowering its environmental footprint with the installation of a “co-gen” power plant at Morristown Medical Center in 2023, and another co-gen plant being currently installed at its sister hospital, Overlook Medical Center (replacing an older, tri-generation power plant). Co-generation power operates by using natural gas to power a turbine that generates electricity for the hospital. The by-product of the turbine is heat, which is then converted to steam, which is used by the hospital’s boilers for heating and hot water throughout the facility. In the winter, when demand is lower, the plant can meet nearly all of the hospital’s electricity needs, spanning 1.4 million square feet across 30 acres. In the summer, when heating is not required, the boilers can continue creating hot water for sterilization needs. Working in tandem with the hospital’s emergency generators, the gas-fired plant also offers the added protection against potential electrical outages from public energy.

Atlantic Health System’s five medical centers are the only hospitals in NJ to be certified by the ENERGY STAR® program of the EPA in 2023 and 2024, as a result of emissions measurements at the hospitals by the EPA.

Atlantic Health System in 2022 formally committed to pursuing the Biden administration’s climate goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

“In a shifting health care landscape, a focus on sustainability can help build resilience while better protecting the health of patients and the community,” said Gary Cohen, Practice Greenhealth founder. “Atlantic Health System demonstrates the kind of leadership, innovation, and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices.”

Practice Greenhealth is the leading membership and networking organization for sustainable health care, delivering environmental solutions to more than 1,700 U.S. hospitals and health systems. Learn more at practicegreenhealth.org

To help healthcare organizations achieve SHC, The Joint Commission has developed the Sustainable Healthcare Resource Center. The resource center provides practical strategies, tools, literature, videos and links.

For more information, please visit The Joint Commission website.

 

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of 20,000 team members and 5,440 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 14 counties and 7.5 million people.

The not-for-profit system offers more than 550 sites of care, including its seven hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton, NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ, Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Madison, NJ and through its partnership with CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold, NJ.

The system includes Atlantic Medical Group, part of a physician enterprise that makes up one of the largest multispecialty practices in New Jersey with more than 1,700 physicians and advance practice providers. Joined with Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners they form part of Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network of more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs through 27 urgent care centers, Atlantic Visiting Nurse and Atlantic Anywhere Virtual Visits. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of six regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability, has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University, is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers, and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.