Photo: Flickr / thinkpanama
Eco-friendly and penny-smart usually go hand-in-hand.And as Wisconsin’s Gundersen Health System is learning, being the nation’s first energy-independent hospital by 2014 won’t just help the planet—it could also help patients save on health bills.
According to FastCo Exist reporter Ben Schiller, the La Crosse County project is the first of its kind, including a wind farm and a landfill that converts methane into pure electricity, which could help shave several hundreds of thousands off energy costs often passed on to patients.
“My goal is to deliver a source of energy that we can also make money on. But we also believe that it’s a risk mitigation,” Jeff Thompson, the hospital’s CEO told Schiller. “If the cost of energy skyrockets, it won’t hurt our patients and our community. We believe we’re lowering the cost of health care by doing this.”
The hospital’s commitment to improving patients’ health and its environmental footprint doesn’t stop there, however. Envision, a new model for health care providers that aims to “reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, promote healthy foods and conserve energy,” was also pioneered by Gundersen and could set a standard for health care facilities going forward.
As YM contributor Derek Thompson has noted, there’s no price index rising faster than hospital care. The situation has gotten so dire that having an appendix removed effectively costs the same as a new refrigerator, and employers are looking to drive down costs by offering workers cash rebates in exchange for choosing cheaper medical providers.
At a time when it seems to make sense to prioritise costs over quality, Gundersen seems pretty committed to helping consumers not cheat themselves out of care at the risk of their health or the environment.