Creating an Environmentally Conscious Medical Practice

As I sit here a month (to the day) before doors open at Northwest Life Medicine Clinic.  I find myself spending an excessive amount of time surfing the web for organic sheets and towels and feeling compelled to write about how my new practice will have a strong focus on environmental sustainability and non-toxic materials.  Medicine is inherently a waste-producing industry.  In efforts to keep bio-hazard exposures to a minimum, health care professionals often have to resort to single use, plastic-based materials that are sent off to a landfill after their short essential job is done.  Much of this is unavoidable, (no one wants a recycled IV bag and catheter, for example) however, I'm on a mission to find alternative options wherever possible. 

The environment we live in plays a tremendous role in our health, something I work with my patients on everyday.  My definition of environmental health focuses around the health of the planet and how that effects the health of us human beings on an individual level.  This is why every decision in the process of opening the Northwest Life Medicine Clinic has gone through an environmental health filter, so to speak.  Here's a list of some of the sustainable decisions made thus far for NWLMC operations:

  • Where landfill waste can't be avoided or for services, companies are being selected that use environmentally and socially sustainable practices and are local to our primary location in Bellingham, WA. 
  • As renovations are underway, hardwood flooring is being installed and no VOC (volatile organic compound) paint is being used.  We have also had a Austin Air Medical Grade air purifier running 24/7 while we are working to be sure any material off-gassing that happens is filtered out of the environment right away.  
  • An Austin Air filter will be running 24/7 once the clinic opens to reduce airborne toxins and allergens making the office a safe place for those with sensitivities. 
  • Patients will enjoy filtered water from our in-house Berkey water filter which removes 99.99% of pathogens, heavy metals, and chemicals from water.  They will also have the option of using this water for locally-sourced, organic tea during their visits. 
  • Organic, non-toxic, and compostable supplies are being purchased where possible: exam table sheets, hand towels, pillows, etc... This is not only for a non-toxic clinic environment, but also to support the companies and farmers working hard to use organic practices. 
  • The office will be as paperless as possible with an electronic medical records and faxing system.  The paper that we do use will be recycled paper and/or made from alternative renewable resources such as hemp. 

This will be a topic of constant updating and focus, but I just wanted to give everyone a sneak peak while the Northwest Life Medicine Clinic is getting up and running.  Please feel free to email with any questions you have regarding these practices or if you have some helpful insights as I move forward with my mission to practice environmentally conscious medicine!

Cheers,

Dr. Jenna