Ever wonder what your doctor eats for lunch? If they were one of the 800 professionals attending the CleanMed conference in Minneapolis this year, they probably ate a locally grown organic vegan meal using biodegradable plates and utensils – without thinking twice about missing out on meat and potatoes.

This year two members of the BNMC team, Jonathan McNeice and Beth Machnica, attended the CleanMed conference to advance their efforts in the BNMC Farm To Hospital Initiative. With 1.5 million patients and visitors annually at the Medial Campus each year, and even more coming with the opening of the UB Medical School and Oshei Children’s Hospital, having healthy food options on campus is a must. But CleanMed is about more than healthy food.

If you think about it, large institutions such as hospitals in many communities are the largest provider of healthcare, purchaser of goods, and employer of the local workforce. They also are typically the largest user of chemicals. As Gary Cohen, Co-Founder and President of Healthcare Without Harm stated at the conference, “Healthcare is decreasing its impact on people by making them more sick through the environment.  If we embed environmental health into social strategy and healthcare we wouldn’t have disease tribes around the country – learning disability societies, cancer societies, diabetes societies, or constantly talking about ‘the cure,’ instead we’d be talking about prevention. “

With such power to impact the surrounding communities and environment, hospitals are critical players in taking the lead on healing people instead of polluting people. At one of the seminars the BNMC team attended, the speaker referred to “frogs on Prozac” in reference to medications going into the water system since clinical staff were trained to dispose of expired meds that way in the past. It represents the structural issues present in our current system, and is an example of the types of things that need to change. With the United States spending the greatest portion of its money on healthcare, and having the worst health outcomes of the top 50 industrialized countries in the world, we’re not very efficient when it comes to health.

The BNMC team is working on a series of sustainability initiatives on the medical campus – piloting a composting program in the Innovation Center, working on a Farm to Hospital Initiative with Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Kaleida, implementing a Community Supported Agriculture Program with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and a Farm-to-Work program at the Innovation Center. Stay tuned for additional updates on the blog!

~The 2017 Clean Med conference was the fourteenth convening held in the United States, and the eighteenth held globally. It is an annual conference put on by the nonprofits HealthCare Without Harm and Practice GreenHealth and has an international reputation for being the premier conference on environmental sustainability in the healthcare sector.~