Fresenius Helios

At hospitals, waste disposal, hygiene, and the high energy requirements place exacting demands on environmental management.

In the area of waste disposal, the goal is a cost-efficient and environmentally compatible solution. We see waste management as a process that begins already at the purchasing stage and ends with systematic recycling, for example, recycling solvents or the resale of infusion glass bottles. All waste materials are recorded using a standardized system and are classified into corresponding waste categories. We use this data, for instance, as a basis for deciding whether to conclude contracts with regional waste management companies or to have a Group-wide contract with one company.

More and more disposable articles are being used in the medical products at hospitals. However, this is not necessarily at the expense of environmental protection. Disposable covers in the operating theater, for instance, have a better environmental impact than reusable ones. This is because their production and preparation for reuse consumes more energy than that required to produce and dispose of covers that are only used once. Moreover, surfactants and other chemicals are necessary to disinfect those products and harm the environment.

Hygiene requirements place limits on the use of regenerative energy sources at hospitals. Solar energy-based water heating systems, for instance, are not a feasible solution for hospitals, in our view. The temperature level of the heat produced, unlike that of conventionally produced heat, provides ideal conditions for the spread of Legionella bacteria. The contamination of drinking water with Legionella can have fatal consequences for patients whose immune system is impaired. For this reason, HELIOS does not use solar energy at its clinics.

A major source of energy consumption at hospitals is the need for air-conditioning in the working areas and in patients’ rooms. For instance, medical equipment that generates heat, such as a magnetic resonance tomograph, needs to be cooled. The structural condition of a hospital building also has an important influence on energy consumption. HELIOS invests in environmental protection on an ongoing basis through structural measures. All new construction projects and modernizations conform to the latest standards of efficient heat insulation. In 2009, € 82 million was spent on maintenance (2008: € 75 million).

HELIOS sources the energy for all the Group’s 61 clinics centrally through an online purchasing platform. This platform not only supplies data on consumption at the clinics, but also benchmarks that enable higher-than-average levels of energy consumption to be detected.

A pilot environmental and energy-saving project launched at the HELIOS site Bad Berleburg in 2008 was continued. Under this project HELIOS highlighted numerous ways in which energy could be saved in order to encourage staff to be environmentally conscious. HELIOS achieved significant savings in the project’s first year. Gas consumption was reduced by about 13 %, to which structural measures to improve the insulation of the buildings also contributed. Electricity consumption was reduced by 8 %, thanks mainly to this environmental awareness drive. HELIOS is considering whether to roll out the campaign to other HELIOS clinics.

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