Gundersen Lutheran CEO talks green initiatives on White House panel

Published On: Jul 24 2012 11:11:09 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 25 2012 05:23:04 AM CDT

LA CROSSE, Wis.-- Gundersen Lutheran's CEO spent time Tuesday at the White House.

Dr. Jeff thompson spoke on a panel for the "Greening America's Hospitals" initiative which was broadcast online.

The goal is for hospitals across the country to improve the environment where people work and receive care. Some of the topics include reducing energy use, reducing waste, and using safer chemicals.

Thompson says not only would it make hospitals safer and more efficient, but it can also save money. "We believe we can improve health, and improve the economic health of our communities by partnering, not with other businesses, not with communities, but with government agencies, foundations," said Thompson.

More than 500 hospitals across the country are taking part in the initiative. 

Thompson was invited because of Gundersen's work on sustainability that began in 2008. Since then, they've started a number of projects to help them become energy independent by 2014, such as re-purposing methane gas from a landfill and a pair of wind turbine projects.

The hospital also takes simple steps such as reducing the amount of waste produced. "Whether that's waste coming out of the OR or food waste coming from the cafeteria line all of those things we're trying to minimize, to make sure we're not causing health problems indirectly by using services or consuming products that we need to deliver the services that we give to patients," said Jeff Rich from Gundersen Lutheran.

A few other projects are in the works including a geothermal heat pump system for the new section of the hospital.