For Providers
In pursuit of sustainability: Corewell Health helps save the world and $100K at the same time

There are three important sustainability “Ps” that Kaylee Swanson, a sustainability analyst on Corewell Health’s Supplier Performance Management team, and her team are committed to:

People, planet and prosperity.

Her team strives “to protect the health of the people, the environment, and the economy of the communities we serve,” she said.

Moving the needle toward sustainability goals can take a lot of time. “But collectively, our consistent small actions can have a big impact,” Kaylee said.

We’re seeing those small actions make a big impact systemwide, particularly in the operating room. Surgical teams — including physicians, nurses, techs and more — are directly impacting Corewell Health’s greenhouse gas emissions by reducing waste anesthesia gas.

Waste anesthesia gas is the small amounts of volatile anesthetic gases that leak into the surrounding environment during certain medical procedures. Small leaks in cannisters or pipes and gas exhaled by patients cause these to be released. These potent anesthesia gases include nitrous oxide, sevoflurane, isoflurane and desflurane.

Minimizing this atmospheric exhaust is considered a key strategy in reducing health care’s environmental impact, as these gas emissions may make up 5% or more of a hospital’s carbon footprint. Corewell Health has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions specific to waste anesthesia gas by 50% by 2025.

Since making this commitment in 2020, our organization has significantly reduced the use of desflurane vaporizers, electrically powered heat devices required to administer anesthesia, and in some cases eliminated desflurane completely from our hospitals.

Over the past four years, greenhouse gas emission reductions have saved Corewell Health well over $100 thousand in anesthesia gas costs. We’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions 17% in 2023 alone — equivalent to removing 185 vehicles from roads for a year!

Physicians such as  Peter Panagopoulos, M.D., anesthesiologist at Corewell Health Dearborn Hospital, have been inspired to improve processes, eliminate desflurane when appropriate and safe to do so and invest in more environmentally friendly anesthesia machines when time to upgrade.

“Our success can largely be attributed to our dedicated anesthesia physicians who have galvanized their teams to support making changes that support patient care as our utmost priority while also are in pursuit of our sustainability goal,” Kaylee said.

Corewell Health is among health systems leading the way to reduce our environmental impact with the help of devoted team members and sustainability champions who support transitioning to environmentally sustainable health care, both inside and outside the health care setting.

“It’s important we all see how purposeful actions towards becoming a more sustainable organization are directly related to our mission and vision,” Kaylee said. “When we make a positive impact on environment, it will also make a positive impact on human health.”

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