An average hospital’s energy consumption is comparable to that of a small town, so it is not surprising that the healthcare system accounts for about 5.2 percent of Germany’s emissions. Figures like these motivate Susanne Schröder to work for change. Her talk on working towards climate neutrality in hospitals opened the “Colloquium on Health Policy” lecture series in the winter semester 2023/2024.
Sabine Schröder has been Quality Management Representative and Mission Statement Officer at Bremen’s St. Joseph-Stift hospital for over 20 years. A few years ago, she decided to work with other colleagues on a more sustainable and climate-neutral strategy for the hospital. She finds her position especially useful for this task: “In quality management, we are well connected with hospital colleagues and talk with everyone anyway!”
There are numerous ways in which hospitals can become more sustainable. Schröder reports for example that the St. Joseph-Stift now uses green electricity, that its canteen offers less meat and has thus reduced its CO2 emissions, and that if the hospital uses disposable cups, they are now compostable. In addition, there are specific changes that hospitals can make: in the operating theatres, gases with lower CO2 emissions are used, the ventilation in the operating theatres is shut down when it is not needed, and pre-filled syringes with a longer shelf life are bought.
Overall, Schröder and her colleagues have already achieved many successes – but she has not yet reached her goal: “If I had one wish, it would be the regulation of packaging by law. Medical devices generate an enormous amount of packaging waste – far beyond what is necessary for sterility.” This was her answer when asked by the audience what she wished politicians would do to help. Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang moderated the subsequent discussion, during which a Bremen hospital network was initiated to work together towards a more sustainable healthcare system.
The Colloquium on Health Policy lectures are moderated by Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang and Prof. Dr. Eva Quante-Brandt and take place at the Haus der Wissenschaft, Sandstraße 4/5, 28195 Bremen. Prior registration is not necessary and admission is free. All talks are in German.
Find more information here.