VA Caribbean Healthcare System
Transforming VA Caribbean Healthcare System
San Juan, Puerto Rico -- As part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Strategic Plan to move forward with its modernization efforts, VA Caribbean Healthcare System (VACHS) clearly stepped to the plate in 2018, by winning three national environmental awards from Practice Greenhealth.
“We are very thankful for all the hard work, dedication and excellence our Green Environmental Management System (GEMS) team put out,” said Assistant Chief Engineer Carlos Cruz from Facility Management Service. “This has allowed us to continue to sustain and excel in our environmental program.”
“It is a privilege to be recognized by this organization, and this year, not only did VACHS revalidate its Emerald Award for superior performance in sustainability efforts, but we were also awarded with two new categories in the Green Building and Environmental Preferable Purchasing,” he added.
VACHS was chosen as one of the recipients of the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award, it is the highest honor for hospitals which are leading the industry with innovation in sustainability.
As part of the top 25, VACHS has demonstrated a strong sustainability program implementation of cross functional excellence.
VACHS won the Greenhealth Emerald Award, which recognizes health care facilities setting the standard in sustainable sourcing, eliminating mercury, and reducing and recycling waste.
In addition, it received the Circle of Excellence Award for Environmentally Preferable Purchasing for implementing sustainable practices to reduce operational costs, effectively providing a healthier environment for patients and employees. This award honors up to 10 of the highest performing hospitals nationwide.
Engineer Jaime E. Marrero, Facility Sustainable Officer and Associate Director for VACHS said, “we are proud to be named one of the top 10 hospitals in the nation for this work, and we will continue to make sustainability a top priority.”
He added that VACHS had been demonstrating leadership, in the community and the health care sector in sustainability, green building, and environmental purchasing.
Categorized by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), an internationally recognized green building certification system, VACHS Administrative Building was designed to maximize the use of daylight as its primary source of light.
The hospital incorporated environmental preferable design elements that adheres to LEED and Green Globes Building Standards for new construction, promoting a healthier building by implementing energy and water conservation measures.
The structure received a five out five high score for Innovation Design Criteria in LEED. The maximum score was reached because potable water was reduced considerably by 21 percent from the baseline design, and 20 percent of the construction materials contained recycled content.
In addition, 29 percent of construction materials were regionally sourced, and 97 percent of wood came from an FSC-certified forest, giving low emitting materials to be used throughout the interior.
By means to build smarter and greener, a new patient South Bed Tower, houses 305 acute care beds in a state-of-the-art, seismically correct, six-story tower in the main building.
The tower is a stand-alone structure measuring 225,585 square-feet with a state-of-the-art utility smart system, that sensors and controls fire protection and life safety devices. It also maintains complete emergency power and energy efficient heating, and regulates air conditioning and lighting systems through-out the tower.
As state-of-the-art technology and diagnostic procedures forms part of the medical care often provided to Veterans, it’s vital that VA facilities are enhanced in terms of space and comfortable environments.
64.4 million in federal funding were allocated to enhance exam rooms and clinical functions in the Out-Patient Clinic at the hospital.
New clinics for dentistry, audiology, speech pathology, and diabetes and infectious diseases were augmented, and other sub-specialty in primary care, and a new Women’s Clinic was also included in the project.
Equipped with a modern parking space counting system to ease the access of disabled Veterans, a new parking garage was built with 730 new spaces. Handicapped spaces now connect the parking building to the first floor of the medical center via a newly constructed air-conditioned pedestrian bridge.
120 miles away in the Out-patient Clinic II in Mayaguez, 4,000 solar panels were installed on site to produce nearly 3 megawatts of energy, providing 85-90 percent of the facility's total energy.
The Mayaguez Clinic won the Exemplary Performance in the On-Site Renewable Energy as well as the Optimized Energy Performance categories.
The Clinic also received Exemplary Performance in the category of Water Use Reduction by implementing a rainwater harvesting system that includes a 160,000-gallon cistern.
Chosen for Sustainable Wastewater Management, all rain water is captured and then redistributed back throughout the building for reuse. Similarly, the condensation of water is also used for 100 percent of the flush fixtures in the building, rather than being piped away off-site.
Moving forward with its modernization efforts, VACHS became a model facility in compliance with the VA Strategic Plan’s objective in making improvements to its infrastructure. The hospital successfully reached the goal of efficiently providing a healthier green environment for its patients and employees.