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Mercury Free Award

2006 Making Medicine Mercury Free Award

Community Hospital received the national Making Medicine Mercury Free Award, the only hospital in Nebraska to receive the award at the time it was presented, according to Dari Olson, Community Hospital Safety Director.

The Making Medicine Mercury Free Award is a one-time award given to facilities by Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E), that have met the challenge of becoming virtually mercury-free. Mercury, a potent neurotoxin and developmental toxin, can impact human health at extremely low levels, and health care facilities can be a major contributor to mercury air emissions. Hospitals that receive this award meet stringent benchmarks for mercury elimination.

Community Hospital took steps to become a nearly mercury-free facility by completing a thorough inventory throughout the hospital of instruments and equipment that contained mercury, and replacing those mercury devices with safe and effective alternatives, Olson said. Items replaced included old blood pressure units, lab chemicals, some pharmaceuticals, thermometers, switches and thermostats. “We also sent letters to all hospital vendors stating we want to purchase products that are mercury-free,” she said.

“We are proud to say that Community Hospital is virtually mercury-free,” Olson said. “We want to promote the health of our community by protecting the environment we all share. It just made sense for us to do that by eliminating mercury in our facility. We are proud to be recognized for our effort.”

H2E, a non-profit group focused on improving health care’s environmental performance, is based on the vision of a healthy health care system—a system that embraces safer building products, clean air, energy and water efficiency, safe working practices, and a commitment to public health demonstrated through waste and toxicity reduction. Jointly founded by the American Hospital Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, Health Care Without Harm, and the American Nurses Association, H2E educates health care professionals about pollution prevention opportunities, rewards the sector’s best performers, and provides a wealth of practical tools and resources to facilitate the industry’s movement toward environmental sustainability.

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