“At the North Shore-LIJ System, we recognize a profound sense of responsibility to contribute in every way possible to the health and well-being of the communities we serve, not only through providing the best quality healthcare but also by employing sound environmental business practices and programs.”
These comments are at the heart of North Shore-LIJ’s sustainability and social responsibility mission. In November 2010, our CEO, Michael J. Dowling, shared these ideas in an article he wrote for employees shortly after North Shore-LIJ publicly partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish far-reaching, environmentally responsible programs and business practices at its facilities.
We did not stop there, however. In the two years since we signed the EPA agreement, North Shore-LIJ has embarked on a journey to weave sustainability and social responsibility further into the fabric of the health system. For us, the essence of community health is underpinned by commitment to a strong environmental stewardship and social agenda, because it is the right thing to do and better for people’s health and well-being. We must avoid contributing to the environmental hazards that are causing health problems in our communities and work to increase health, economic and social equality to help people live healthy lives.
To steer this activity within the health system, a Sustainability and Social Responsibility Council was established in 2012. Made up of a cross section of leaders, the Council has begun to create comprehensive, holistic goals and practices that reach across the health system and will help shape the way we do business.
North Shore-LIJ Health System’s sustainability and social responsibility (SSR) mission is focused on improving the health and well-being of our communities and society at large. Through responsible decision-making and support of our communities, we will protect and enhance the environment and improve quality of life.
What Is SSR?
SSR is often described as the corporate “triple bottom line” — the totality of an organization’s financial, social, and environmental performance in conducting its business. It is also referred to as “corporate citizenship,” which essentially means that a company should be a “good neighbor” within its host communities, promoting stewardship of the environment and quality of life.
Why Focus on Sustainability and Social Responsibility in Healthcare?
As a leading regional and national institution, North Shore-LIJ has the ability and responsibility to use its influence to further socially and environmentally conscious objectives. According to Practice Greenhealth, a nonprofit organization promoting environmental solutions for healthcare:
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, healthcare buildings account for 11 percent of all commercial energy consumption
- Healthcare buildings rank as the second-most energy-intensive commercial users, following the foodservice industry
- Hospitals are also often the largest water users in the communities they serve
- Hospitals in the US produce more than 5.9 million tons of waste annually
We’ve made significant strides in our green practices — recycling materials and construction debris, reducing our energy and water use and investing in sustainable technologies in heating, cooling, transportation and lighting. However, we recognize that sustainability is more than just green practices — it involves sustaining the communities in which we work and live. For example, North Shore-LIJ has also made significant donations to MedShare and other philanthropic organizations, been a part of the Long Island Anti-Hunger Taskforce and sponsored farmer’s markets to facilitate access to healthy foods for local residents. To guide our continued work in sustainability and social responsibility, we have created the following set of goals:
- Reduce the use of natural resources and protect and enhance the our environment
- Reflect and support the diversity of the communities in which we live and work
- Support the rights of all people to live healthy lives by increasing health, economic and social equality
- Harness the energy and commitment of the North Shore-LIJ employees by engaging them in SSR initiatives to help build a culture of sustainability and social responsibility