Sample Hospital Study: Improved health and safety AND lower operating costs.

“The Fable Hospital, a 300-bed, 600,000 square-foot regional medical center built at a cost of $350 million in 2011. Fable was designed and constructed to meet the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold-certification level for green building design, construction, operations and maintenance. To do so, it included the best innovations for which there was strong evidence in the scientific literature that they would improve patient and employee safety and health care quality while also reducing operating costs, even if initial construction costs are higher.

Fable Hospital’s features include:

  • Larger single-patient, acuity-adaptable rooms to reduce incidents of health care-associated infections and patient transfers
  • Use of nontoxic building materials to reduce the effects of indoor air pollution
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems
  • Larger windows to increase the beneficial effects of natural light and nature views
  • Single-use air circulation systems to minimize the spread of infections
  • Heat recovery systems, high-efficiency mechanical equipment, and external building glazing to reduce fossil fuel consumption
  • Healing gardens accessible by patients and staff
  • Low-flow water fixtures and rainwater recapture systems to reduce water consumption; among dozens of other features.

The Fable Hospital is, in fact, a fable, illustrated in an essay by Blair Sadler and other health care quality experts with assistance from the Center for Health Design. But the economic value of the improved clinical quality and environmental impacts of the added features, based on evidence from actual hospitals, is real.

The economic and environmental value totaled more than $10 million a year, which resulted in a payback period of just three years. Among the significant cost benefits were savings from a 20 percent reduction in hospital-associated infections, a 10 percent reduction in patient length of stay, a 50 percent reduction nursing turnover due to increased safety and job satisfaction, an 18 percent reduction in energy demand, and a 30 percent reduction in water demand, totaling almost 10 million gallons.

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