Greener gas helps to numb climate pain

Hollywood Private Hospital anesthetist Dr Chris Mitchell

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is key to slowing down global warming – and Hollywood Private Hospital is doing its part to save the environment by switching to ‘greener theatres’.

Anaesthetists at the Perth facility are now using an alternative gas with a much lower carbon cost when preparing patients for surgery.

They are phasing out the use of desflurane and instead using sevoflurane, which is 50 to 60 times less harmful to the Earth’s atmosphere.

One 240ml canister of desflurane is equivalent to 893 kilograms of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of driving a Volkswagen Golf for 5,900 kilometres.

“Desflurane has global warming potential, due to its ability to retain heat and its longevity in the Earth’s atmosphere,” Hollywood Private Hospital anaesthetist Dr Chris Mitchell said.

“Sevoflurane is 50 to 60 times less harmful to the environment than desflurane.”

Dr Mitchell hopes to raise awareness and educate doctors across Australia about the benefits of ditching desflurane.

An article he co-wrote with fellow anaesthetist Dr Laura Wisniewski notes that the healthcare sector is responsible for around seven percent of carbon dioxide emissions nationally.

Published in the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists’ Autumn 2022 Bulletin, it recommends four steps to cutting carbon footprint by changing theater habits.

Hollywood Private’s owner, Ramsay Health Care, is also phasing out desflurane at its other Western Australia hospitals as part of its award-winning sustainability program.

“We acknowledge that climate change is a critical issue, so we are focused on minimizing our greenhouse emissions,” the group’s National Environment Manager Sue Panuccio said.

“It is part of Ramsay Health Care’s commitment to making a meaningful, positive difference for current and future generations.”

Ramsay Health Care is continuing to install solar panels at its Australian hospitals

Australia’s largest private hospitals operator now has 10 sites across the country using green energy powered by the sun.

Pindara and John Flynn Private Hospitals are the latest to have installed solar panel systems, which will save a combined 6,500 tons of carbon emissions over their lifespans – the equivalent of taking nearly 110 cars off the road.

Both Gold Coast hospitals will soon switch to energy-efficient LED lighting, saving more than 1,000 tons of carbon emissions each year across the two sites.

“Installing solar panels is great for the environment and creating more sustainable hospitals for the future,” Pindara Private Hospital CEO Mark Page said.

“The Gold Coast is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places in the world and I’m proud we’re doing our part to help protect it for generations to come.”

The two hospitals are also committed to Ramsay’s recycling initiatives, keeping large amounts of PVC and aluminum out of landfill, as well as the group’s goal of replacing 50 million single-use plastic items with sustainable alternatives.

The company’s environmental plan was recognised at the 2021 HESTA Nursing and Midwifery Awards, when it won the Outstanding Organization category, while this year Ramsay’s landmark sustainability-linked loan product was rated top in its sector by an international finance magazine.

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