UAB Hospital goes electric with ground maintenance

Photo credit: Mx. Granger, licensed by Creative Commons CC 1.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

The American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA) recently reported that the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Hospital became the first hospital in the country to achieve AGZA Green Zone certification. The Green Zone certification is granted by AGZA when a property converts its landscape maintenance to quieter, cleaner electric yard care equipment. AGZA collaborates with Quiet Communities to implement the Green Zone program.

UAB Hospital is one of the nation’s largest hospitals, with 1,200 beds.  With the help of the university’s Sustainability Department, it retired gas-powered leaf blowers, weed whips, chain saws and hedge trimmers.

Gas-powered, hand-held tools, like those listed above, emit loud noise. The noise can have strong low-frequency components that carry it over long distances and through walls and windows. Studies show that noise can interfere with patient recovery, adversely affect the work of healthcare professionals and disrupt student learning and work productivity.

The Facility Guidelines Institute sets construction standards for hospital noise. The standards include things like sound transmission coefficients for walls and doors, and HVAC noise, but do not include standards for environmental noise outside the hospital.

Medicare surveys recently-discharged hospital patients to assess their hospital experience.  The survey, done in a systematic fashion on a statistically valid sample of recent patients, asks a question about noise. Much to everyone’s surprise, the leading complaint in the surveys is hospital noise. Medicare may reduce hospital payments based on unsatisfactory questionnaire results.

Reducing outdoor noise from gas-powered leaf blowers and other noisy landscaping equipment may contribute to a quieter hospital environment for patients, staff and visitors.

A quieter world will be a better and healthier world for all, including those inside hospitals.

Share this article:

Article Categories

Search Articles