Some days I head by train to meet healthcare staff in Dublin or in one of our 49 acute hospitals; other days I’m at my office at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork.
Today, however, I will spend a few hours in the auditorium at Cork University Hospital (CUH) where we are helping it host its second annual Sustainable Healthcare Symposium.
Last year, CUH became the first hospital to obtain the An Taisce Green Campus Flag.
I have some ground work to do in preparation for rolling out Green Healthcare Training Days this autumn.
It started in the Coombe Hospital and 24 hospitals have now bought in. The focus is on waste prevention and water conservation.
Our work is informed by audits — we’ve been auditing waste (including hazardous waste, food waste and water wastage) in hospitals over the past few years with a view to improving recycling and water conservation.
Our results have helped us develop benchmarks and show hospitals where they are doing well and where there is room for improvement.
I keep a bike in work which allows me take a trip into the English Market for a lunchtime sandwich.
Some of the afternoon is taken up with work around rolling out energy awareness campaigns in seven acute hospitals and offices nationwide — a positive sign of how engaged our staff are in sustainability.
On a practical level, this involves going into hospitals and sub-metering use of energy in different departments to identify areas of high energy usage. By doing this, we can help them develop ways of cutting down.
I catch up on emails and respond to queries over the phone from healthcare staff. We work mostly with acute hospitals but also with community-based health services.
We have developed lots of health sector energy-efficiency, waste prevention, water conservation, sustainable building and green procurement factsheets, best practice guidance notes, and case studies available on our website www.hse.ie/sustainability.
I work in a team of three and our mission is to help healthcare staff make their health service more sustainable. We welcome their suggestions.
Hometime and a chance to indulge my passion for horseriding.
* Helen Maher, estates manager, specialising in environmental services, National Health Sustainability Office, HSE.
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