According to an article entitled Green Medicine: An Integral Approach that
Benefits Physicians, Patients, Communities, and the Environment in
Integrative Medicine • Vol. 6, No. 6 • Dec 2007/Jan 2008
The term “green healthcare” describes practices that facilitate a sustainable future
for medicine, physicians, patients, and the environment. Practically speaking,
green healthcare has 3 components:
1) working in a healthy facility (or green clinic)
2) advocating for a healthy environment
3) practicing medicine in a sustainable manner
To be clear, the word sustainability means living in a way that also lets others live well,
both now and in the future. Green healthcare allows medicine as a practice to promote
health for people, communities, and the environment.
The Green Healthcare Model encompasses the body and psyche
of the patient, thephysician–patient relationship, the physician’s health,
the typeof medical treatments used, the physician’s office or hospital,
and the natural environment. Because all of these elements
contribute to health and healing, this unique
model provides a framework for effective intervention on many
levels, including care for the whole person, our communities,
and our environment.
Green healthcare starts when the health professional takes
steps to work in an environment that supports his or her own
health as well as that of patients and local communities.
Practicing medicine in a sustainable way begins with a focus on
prevention and wellness. Considering the environmental consequences
of medical treatments takes more commitment, but can
easily be initiated through simple office programs such as safe
medicine disposal program like a Medication Take-Back
Program. (For more information on safe medicine disposal,
see IMCJ 6.4: 50-52.) Health providers of the 21st century
must also take an interest in environmental issues and in advocating
for environmental health, best done by connecting with
local civic and environmental leaders.
The first step for all of us, however, is to reconnect and
recommit to the passion that first brought us to healing, and to
connect that impulse to the joy we take in a healthy, clean, natural
world. From this sense of joy and inspiration, medical professionals
can truly heal more broadly and deeply, and, as well, find
the strength to lead our communities to a brighter future for our
children and grandchildren. We must live in such a way that
helps others live well too.