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Hackensack Meridian Health Hosted a Green Team of New Jersey-Based College Students to Promote Sustainability

Hackensack Meridian Health was pleased to partner with Montclair State University as host of a Green Team of New Jersey-based college students. Team members and participating students are pictured left to right: Nadine D’Ambrosio, manager, Business Development, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®, Kyle Tafuri, director of Sustainability Programs, Hackensack Meridian Health, Erin Ihde, project manager, Environmental Research, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®, students Andrew Herrera (Ramapo College), Kaitlyn Esposito (Fairleigh Dickinson University), Leyla Aydin (Ramapo College), Rachel Fritz (Montclair State University), Kiel Brown (Montclair State University), Ariana Leyton (Montclair State University), Matthew Rivas(Montclair State University), and Bonnie Eskenazi, managing director, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®.

Hackensack Meridian Health was pleased to partner with Montclair State University as host of a Green Team of New Jersey-based college students.

“We were delighted to welcome this special team of students to our campus,” said Ihor Sawczuk, M.D., president of Hackensack University Medical Center. “It was a pleasure to collaborate with them on a mutually beneficial learning experience.”

The students were embedded over the summer at The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center, helping to drive team member engagement in sustainability initiatives.

“We were so excited to welcome this curious, engaged, passionate generation of students to our Center, and to help them lead the way toward a greener future,” said Deirdre Imus, president and founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center. “When we adopt sustainable practices early in life, we never think to do otherwise; recycling, composting, and other green habits become ingrained in who we are, and help us understand our impact on our health and the environment. I believe we all have a responsibility to focus on eliminating exposures to toxins that are making our kids sick. This is at the heart of what sustainability is and what makes it successful for future generations.”

Equipped with varied academic backgrounds, the students gained real world experience on the job while Hackensack Meridian Health welcomed their fresh perspective regarding the environment.

“Through their dedication to environmental initiatives, students help to change behavior and challenge the status quo,” said Kyle Tafuri, director of Sustainability at Hackensack Meridian Health.  “They offer creative solutions to the sustainability issues we face every day.”

As part of the program, Mr. Tafuri spent one day per week meeting with students on campus at Montclair State and the students also came to Hackensack University Medical Center once a week to work onsite.

“Millennials tend to be aware of and concerned about the environment,” says Mr. Tafuri. “They grew up with practices like recycling and learned about global environmental degradation, particularly in terms of how it will affect them long-term.”

As the field of Sustainability Science becomes more prevalent, an increasing number of courses, majors and degrees are being offered at colleges and universities.

“This is the type of paradigm shift that we need in higher education: helping students to tap into material in class and use it in a hands-on way to understand how it will be needed in their careers,” said Amy Tuininga, Ph.D., director of the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies at Montclair State University. “We were delighted to partner with Hackensack Meridian Health through this program to build bridges from classrooms to careers.”

The mission of the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies at Montclair State University is to advance sustainability by developing community-engaged research projects and building educational programs through academic-corporate-public partnerships through transdisciplinary research and community projects that grow more resilient communities worldwide. The Institute, which offers the program in partnership with the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability to include more academic institutions across the state, provides opportunities for students in a 10-week, Green Team Internship Program between May and August each year.

 

About The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®
The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center represents one of the first hospital-based programs whose specific mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children’s health. The mission is accomplished through education, research and implementation. Since 2001, the Center has helped Hackensack University Medical Center become one of the first hospitals in the country to implement green cleaning practices, which was just the beginning of their sustainable journey. Since then, the Center helped the hospital reduce waste, minimize the use of hazardous materials, limit patient and employee exposure to dangerous toxins, prevent pollution, serve healthier foods, and more.

The Center’s Sustainability program is strategically aligned with the overall mission of the medical center; to create a healthier environment for patients, team members and community. This program has resulted in national recognition for Hackensack University Medical Center as a leader in healthcare sustainability. For the past four consecutive years, Hackensack University Medical Center has earned the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth and for the past three consecutive years, the medical center has earned the 50 Greenest Hospitals Award by Becker’s Hospital Review.

About Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center, a 775-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is now part of one of the largest networks in the state comprised of 28,000 team members and more than 6,000 physicians. Hackensack University Medical Center was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017-18 Best Hospital rankings – maintaining its place atop the NJ rankings since the rating system was introduced. It was also named one of the top four New York Metro Area hospitals. Hackensack University Medical Center is one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more years in a row. Becker’s Hospital Review recognized Hackensack University Medical Center as one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America 2017. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 23 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. Hackensack University Medical Center has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. Hackensack University Medical Center is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to The Northern Trust PGA Golf Tournament. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events especially the Tackle Kids Cancer Campaign providing much needed research at the Children’s Cancer Institute housed at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. To learn more, visit www.HackensackUMC.org.