In 2016, OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital looked at their waste production and began asking this question: what can we do about all of this?

That’s when they called on the Rural Action Zero Waste team to begin their efforts towards a greener public health sector. With the hospital’s pillars of sustainability in mind: landfill diversion, energy efficiency, healthy buildings, green transportation and sustainable procurement, the two organizations began their work.

The partnership spearheaded campus-wide recycling at the hospitals, and a donation program that brought medical equipment to partners like MedWish in Cleveland. Over the next seven years, O’Bleness continued to work with Zero Waste to find new ways they could make their campus more sustainable.

Recognized for both their dedication to sustainability and their continued work with Zero Waste, O’Bleness received the 2023 Rural Action Sustainable Partnership award.

“Within the OhioHealth system, O’Bleness was the first hospital to establish sustainability goals, with the support of Rural Action. Now OhioHealth has committed to sustainability as a priority for the organization and has signed a national climate pledge and committed to the individual goals within that pledge. We strongly believe that OhioHealth can be a leader in this space while also delivering high quality patient care,” says O’Bleness president LeeAnn Lucas-Helber.

It hasn’t stopped there for OhioHealth and O’Bleness, though. It is the first hospital in the system to adopt public-facing sustainability goals and has been a beacon of leadership by sharing best practices and piloting various sustainability initiatives. The hospital recently became one of twenty hospitals in Ohio recognized for their energy efficiency with an ENERGY STAR certification, was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency, and was recognized at the United Nations 2022 Climate Change Conference.

O’Bleness President LeeAnn Lucan-Helber says that associates and physicians at the hospital have taken a particular interest in the movement towards a greener hospital. “We started our sustainability journey with strong support from our providers and associates and the desire to move the needle on our efforts has gained momentum over time. Our Facilities team has particularly leaned into this work.” They also recognize that environmental issues are public health issues. Moreover, the effects of climate change disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities. The hospital’s zero waste efforts go beyond sustainability to building community resilience.

O’Bleness Hospital’s partnership spreads farther than their one facility, though. As other institutions look to follow suit, O’Bleness serves as a role model for building a healthier and more sustainable future. Through its remarkable progress in smart energy, healthy buildings, waste reduction, green transportation, and responsible purchasing, O’Bleness Hospital sets a new standard for environmental stewardship in healthcare.

Sustainability Award Winners