Helping Pollinators Helps Health Systems
Health systems looking for ways to attract more patients and reduce their carbon footprint should give some thought to helping pollinators. Not only does this help support your local wildlife; it can also make a positive impact on your bottom line and your community’s health. Here are five ways health systems win with pollinator habitat.
1) Good PR
If attracting new patients is top of your list, then you need to seize any chance you get to talk about how awesome you are. That becomes easy when you create pollinator habitat. You can get positive press simply by sharing your intentions to support pollinators. Then, as you start putting those plans in motion, you get more media opportunities. And, of course, once the gardens are installed, you have beautiful visuals that make for great press – and which can be used to attract press well into the future!
2) Cost Savings
One of the things that most surprises people about pollinator habitat is that it can be far less costly to maintain than traditional lawns. When you think of how much goes into maintaining a lawn – especially for a professional site like a large medical practice – it is quick to see how costs can mount. Mowing is likely your biggest cost. Fuel and labor are not cheap, and both are continually needed to maintain a traditional lawn.
Pollinator habitat, on the other hand, requires far less maintenance. Once established, you are looking at only minimal mowing and tending, which translates to your bottom line. Consider getting a cost-benefit analysis comparing your proposed pollinator habitat with your current lawn maintenance plan and see how the numbers look.
3) Reduced Chemical Usage
Perfect lawns don’t happen by themselves – they take a lot of work, and a ton of chemicals. Herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers get poured all over that so-called perfect grass. Does that sound like the healthiest approach a health system could take to property management? All those chemicals wind up in the water and soil, and the particles get in the air. How good is that for your patients (especially those with lung problems)? How good is that for your community?
When you convert to pollinator habitat, you rarely use these kinds of chemicals. While in some cases you may need herbicides to remove existing weeds at the start of a project, there are usually other options with lawns. Regardless, once established, pollinator gardens require you NOT to use pesticides and herbicides because they would hurt the pollinators you are trying to attract. That makes for healthier soil, air, water – and people.
4) Reduced Carbon Footprint
Health systems have a big carbon footprint. Anesthetic gases alone are a big contributor – but so is lawn maintenance. That same mowing that costs you unnecessarily in fuel and labor is also costing you in terms of carbon use. Why use fossil fuels to power a mower all over your grounds if you don’t have to?
Pollinator habitat requires far less mowing – generally only once a year. Even if you opt for a series of gardens connected with grass paths, you are still mowing far less square footage, which means a big reduction in your carbon footprint.
5) Community Leadership
Health systems are more than just hospitals – they are the medical practices and laboratories and campuses located throughout a community. The more each of those sites is converted to pollinator habitat, the more your health system will be seen as a leader who values community health, not just acute care. And that only gives you more opportunities for PR and cost savings.
Focus on health for the community
Health systems need to focus on community health, not just acute patient care – and that includes environmental health. People like their health systems to be a force for good in their communities. The more you are seen leading your community in a positive new direction with pollinators, the more you will stand out from the competition.
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash