Green Departments Fuel Passions, Teamwork to Improve Stewardship

by Mercy's Madelynn Innes

Mercy has a trifecta of Green Department action. Over the past month, the first three “Leaf Two” Green Departments have emerged: Mercy Lebanon’s Patient Advocate, Surgical Services in Mountain View and Springfield’s Lean Transformation.

Green Departments is a voluntary program that empowers co-workers as they take the lead in improving the stewardship of their workspaces. Departments advance at their own pace, and for each of three levels (called leafs), there are easy-to-follow, step-by-step checklists and online educational resources, all housed within Mercy’s MTS Wiki.

“The Wiki is an excellent tool. I found it easy to download the forms and liked the links to various information; having all of the information in one place is very helpful,” said Administrative Assistant Lisa Heiser from Springfield’s Lean Transformation. Compared to other companies she has worked for, Lisa adds, “This program is the most developed approach to sustainability I’ve seen.”

The program’s first two leafs focus internally, on simple, no-cost actions like recycling, energy conservation and double-sided printing. Leaf Three is more external in nature, focusing on best-practice sharing, story-telling and recruitment. As Lebanon’s Patient Advocate group works toward their Leaf Three certification, Director Teresa Esparza has reached out to co-workers in hopes of engaging them in the process. Her efforts appear to be working as other departments join in.

“We’re excited to participate and hope to inspire other departments in Mountain View to join the effort,” said Anna Crabtree, a nurse from that com- munity’s Surgery Services. As Anna and her co-workers work toward their Leaf Three certification, she added, “Sorting the recyclables has become second nature to us. We keep looking for other ways to recycle or repurpose.”

Advocates like these who are willing to assist others in reaching the next leaf are essential to the long-term sustainability of the program,” said Joshua Jones, Sustainability program manager. “The best promoters – the true sustainers – will be those familiar faces, who are working through the program and can say, ‘It’s really pretty easy – our department has completed Leaf One and Two, and I’ll help you get started.’”

As for Leaf One newcomers, two departments from Springfield have joined the program: Cardiac Cath Lab and Inpatient Cardiopulmonary Rehab. Coral Johnson with Cardiopulmonary Rehab said she has long encouraged family and roommates to recycle and conserve, so when her director Susan Hansen mentioned Green Departments in a staff meeting, it wasn’t a stretch for her to volunteer to spearhead the effort.

Last summer, Dr. Jessica Birchem helped promote and inspire the idea of a Green Cardiac Cath Lab. “Getting buy-in wasn’t tough because so many of the nurses and staff were supportive of the idea and were doing so in their personal lives,” she said. The first step was recycling, which Angie Laurin and Margaret Farquhar initially helped coordinate.

“We weren’t recycling anything in our department, and now there’s more recycling than trash. Also, Green Departments helped us identify a way to do double-sided scanning and printing of our reports,” Margaret said. “We have a lot of reports we print daily, so we’re already saving lots of paper. We feel really positive about the changes we’ve made.”

As others join in, our collective impact grows, and the big picture view helps remind us why we care about stewardship. Anna from Mountain View sums it up nicely: “We live in such a beautiful area of the rural Ozarks, among the rivers and the hills, and we want to do our best to preserve this precious gift.”

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