This Thursday – April 22, 2021 – Cooper will join organizations around the world in celebrating Earth Day. The theme for this year’s Earth Day – “Restore Our Earth” – focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking to help restore the world’s ecosystems.
Since its inception, Cooper’s Green Team has worked to identify and put into action a number of initiatives to ensure that Cooper reduces waste, decreases energy usage, and educates our team members about how to be successful environmental stewards. While many of these initiatives have played pivotal roles in reducing Cooper’s carbon footprint and improving our energy efficiency, much of the work has been done behind the scenes. Now, as we approach Earth Day, we are proud to share some of the Green Team’s most impactful projects:
- As part of Cooper’s efforts to improve community health, we received a grant from the National Library of Medicine to assist Cooper in educating Camden residents about the negative health effects that may result from environmental issues.
- Constructed the co-generation plant in 2018: The combined heat and power (CHP) plant allows Cooper to create our own efficient power to carry us through emergency outages. By producing more than half of our power demand from the CHP plant, Cooper has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50%, and our thermal efficiency increased from 45% to 85%. Cooper is the first hospital in the region with the ability to stay operational while completely cut off from the electrical grid.
- Eliminated foam plastic products and plastic straws from Cooper Court Cafeteria, Natural juice and smoothie bar, and coffee kiosks throughout Cooper’s facilities.
- Created a page devoted to environmental well-being on Cooper’s wellness website (wellness.Cooperhealth.org).
- Implemented the Zenith Climb wellness competition to encourage staff to skip the elevator and take the stairs in the hospital and throughout Cooper’s facilities. To inspire Cooper team members working in the hospital, motivational quotes were painted on each stairwell landing.
- Engaged students from Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) to perform “waste walks” to determine where Cooper needs to improve our waste segregation (e.g., regular trash, red bag trash, recycling).
- Provided additional recycling receptacles throughout Cooper facilities to encourage employees and visitors to recycle.
While the Green Team has been hard at work planning future initiatives, many of our Cooper team members have been spearheading projects and are taking personal steps to help lessen their impact on the environment:
- A group of employee volunteers has been working with the Anesthesia Department to upcycle OR surgical wraps into mats that are used as ground cover for the homeless community. Two wraps are sewn together to make a mat (similar to a yoga mat in shape and size) with elastic on one end to roll it up. Once completed, the mats are dropped off at Cathedral Kitchen for distribution to anyone who might have a need for protection from the elements. Not only does this keep the sterile wraps from simply being disposed of, it is greatly appreciated by the recipient. If you would like to volunteer to sew or drop off completed mats, please reach out to Elizabeth Cerceo, MD, or Jennifer Garefino.
- Medical students at CMSRU have been recording podcasts focused on the important relationship between our medical well-being and environmental wellness. Topics include Wildfires and Public Health, The Important Role of Animals in Human Health, Medical Waste and Pollution, and Reforming Fast Fashion. You can listen to the podcasts here.
- Cooper residents have partnered with the NJ Tree Foundation, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees in New Jersey’s most urban neighborhoods. Together, they have planted trees throughout Camden, and will install a fresh round of trees on May 8, 2021.
“I bike from my house in Old Kensington, April through November, weather permitting. Surprisingly, biking takes only five minutes more than the car since the bike rack location is only a few feet from the entrance door. I can’t describe how good it feels to start and end your day with a five-mile ride and how happy I feel when I’m cruising so high on top of the Delaware!”
– Samer Badr, MD
Hospitalist, Cooper University Hospital
Co-Site Director, Division of Hospital Medicine, Cooper University Hospital
Medical Director, Kelemen 10
“Our team started using an online project management app to keep everyone looped in on what we’re doing weekly and quarterly. I live by my to-do lists, but with this app I’ve been able to stop printing out my checklists and I spend less time writing in my notebooks … far less paper use and waste, and I don’t have to carry my notebooks and folders with me everywhere.”
– Rosaria Mineo, MS
Social Media and Digital Content Manager