As the head of La Crosse, Wis.-based Gundersen Health System’s Envision sustainability project and GL Envision LLC consulting business, Jeff Rich is a leader in sustainable operations from the hospital’s perspective. He describes the sustainability challenges facing health care organizations.
When did you join Gundersen?
RICH: I came to Gundersen in October 2006 to focus on driving internal efficiency and quality improvements through the use of Lean Six Sigma methods. I have a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. My work experience prior to Gundersen was in manufacturing process and quality improvement at John Deere and Trane. During that time, I had various roles in engineering, engineering management and also became a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt. The process improvement tools have been very helpful on our journey toward improving energy efficiency because they are really inefficiency-elimination tools, which fit perfectly when addressing energy improvement.
How did you get involved in Gundersen’s Envision program?
RICH: As part of our efficiency improvement work at Gundersen, we noticed that our energy bill had been rising substantially between 2006 and 2007. In February 2008, we decided to conduct an energy audit of our medical center campus and found tremendous cost-improvement opportunities. As part of this effort, we connected the dots between energy improvement and the reduction of pollutants in our atmosphere and water, and their effect on human health. The work was strongly connected to our mission of improving health in the communities that we served in addition to reducing costs for patients. During 2008, we also explored the possibility of offsetting our fossil fuel energy consumption. By the end of the year, our senior leadership team and our board had approved a six-year goal to reach energy independence by producing more clean energy than we consume from fossil fuel sources.
Read the full story from our sister publication. Health Facilities Management, here.