As the president and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway, I have seen how the wonders of healthcare technology – like minimally invasive surgery equipment, diagnostic scanning devices and patient monitoring systems – can improve medical care and provide a more comfortable experience for patients.
Making cutting-edge healthcare technologies available to our patients is chief among my responsibilities at RWJ Rahway. We are a nearly 100-year-old, acute-care community hospital that provides a diverse range of healthcare services. So our facility has to be a lot of things to a lot of people right now, while also taking steps to ensure that we can meet the medical needs of the community in the years to come.
Just as RWJ Rahway is utilizing the latest medical innovations to improve patient care, we have also installed state-of-the-art energy efficiency equipment and technologies that are reducing costs and greatly improving the infrastructure that we rely on for the comfort and convenience of our patients, visitors and staff.
Working with our utility, Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G), we made more than $3.4 million in energy efficient upgrades in the past two years that will allow our hospital to save about $300,000 a year in energy costs. That’s $6 million over the 20-year useful lifespan of the new equipment we just installed. In turn, those saved dollars will help us to continue our investments in the technology, equipment, facilities and services that our patients need and deserve.
The energy efficiency improvements included a major upgrade to the our air conditioning system, the installation of energy efficient lighting fixtures throughout the hospital, the retrofitting of existing heating boilers with new energy efficient components and more. PSE&G paid for the improvements up front, and we will repay part of the cost, interest-free, over the next several years.
While this energy efficiency work was not as visible as our re-modeled lobby or our new hyperbaric chamber, it still delivers real and very noticeable benefits to RWJ Rahway.
First, there are financial savings. Freeing up $300,000 a year is very fortunate in a time of ever-tightening healthcare budgets and leaps in technological advancements and patient amenities that necessitate additional investments. In fact, we just completed a multi-year effort that updated our critical care unit, lobby and entire first floor. What’s more, we created a Center for Ambulatory Medicine, which includes the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine (a great example of technology at work), diabetes counseling and weight management services, neuropathy clinic, physician offices and other services. These investments will benefit countless patients and community members now and PSE&G’s energy efficiency work and lower energy bills will help us make even more improvements in the future.
Second, the energy efficiency improvements also help us to dramatically improve our own infrastructure. While there was never a doubt that our equipment would operate, the reality was that much of the replaced infrastructure was many decades old. By installing brand new chillers, boiler burners, motors and more, we are ensuring that RWJ Rahway meets our 24/7 patient obligations for decades to come.
Third, we are helping the environment. We will save enough electricity each year to power about 275 average-size homes; the amount of natural gas we save annually will supply about 20 average-size homes; and the amount of pollutants we cut through our work is equal to taking almost 300 cars off the road for one year.
Last, but hardly least, being known for using energy wisely and being good stewards of natural resources can only advance our standing in our community and our state. People put an enormous amount of faith in their hospitals – for many, their lives are quite literally in our hands. So having an impeccable reputation only helps institutions like RWJ Rahway.
I’ve seen how technology and the addition of new facilities have changed, and will continue to change, the delivery of healthcare at RWJ Rahway. And as a hospital executive, I know that these changes are taking place throughout our industry. But as we endeavor to become hospitals of the future, I would also urge hospitals around New Jersey and across the nation to consider energy efficiency as a core component of their planning. Hospitals, including RWJ Rahway, tend to anchor the communities we serve. In choosing to make energy efficiency a priority by utilizing new technology and physical plant improvements, we not only reap the monetary and physical rewards of the improvements, but we also set a strong leadership example for others about the importance and benefits of going green.
Kirk C. Tice
President and CEO
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway