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EPA Agrees to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Environmental Self-Audit

Release Date: 11/17/2003
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(#03136) New York, N.Y. -- Taking advantage of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Healthcare Compliance Initiative, an innovative self-audit program, New York-Presbyterian, the largest hospital in New York City, has entered into an agreement to conduct a comprehensive environmental audit of its facilities. This agreement covers dozens of buildings located throughout its five campuses, which include Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, the Allen Pavilion and the Westchester Division Campus in White Plains, New York.

"The Healthcare Compliance agreement will benefit the environment, the hospital, its patients, visitors and workers," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "By reviewing its environmental practices, New York-Presbyterian will ensure that it is safeguarding people's health by being a good environmental steward and a good neighbor."

"We at NewYork-Presbyterian have continually strived for and achieved excellence," stated Dr. Herbert Pardes, President and Chief Executive Officer. "This agreement will enable us to further extend our healthcare leadership position into the environmental area as well as, most importantly, reinforce NewYork-Presbyterian's essential role as an economic anchor and an engine for positive change in the community. We welcome the opportunity to participate in EPA's laudable cooperative initiative."

The agreement continues EPA's regional Healthcare Compliance Initiative to help hospitals comply with environmental regulations. Under the agreement, signed by EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny and Robert S. Volland, the hospital's senior vice president for real estate and facilities; New York-Presbyterian will audit its environmental practices. It will self-report any violations, correct deficiencies in its environmental management processes and take steps to prevent further recurrence of violations. The hospital will submit six disclosure reports to EPA between December 1, 2003 and October 1, 2004. If New York-Presbyterian corrects discovered violations and abides by the other terms of the agreement, EPA has agreed to waive "gravity-based penalties," which are penalties normally based on the seriousness of the violations.

The agreement covers all major federal environmental programs including air, water, pesticides, solid and hazardous wastes, hazardous substances and chemicals, environmental response, emergency planning, community right-to-know and toxic substances control.

The Agency established the self-audit policy for healthcare providers to encourage prompt disclosure and correction of environmental violations, safeguarding people and the environment. Many hospitals were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws or had failed to implement effective compliance strategies. As part of the initiative, EPA sent letters to 480 hospitals in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and held free workshops to help hospitals comply. In addition, the Agency established a Web site that provides information about their duties under the law, and warned hospitals that EPA inspections of their facilities with the risk of financial penalties were imminent. Hospitals can join the Agency's voluntary self-audit program, through which they can investigate and disclose environmental violations to EPA and, as a compliance incentive, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.

This is EPA's tenth self-audit agreement with a hospital in this region. Thirteen similar self-audit agreements have been signed under a program for colleges and universities. Additional agreements are expected.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is a 2,369-bed academic medical center created from the merger between The New York Hospital and The Presbyterian Hospital. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory, and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, The Allen Pavilion, and the Westchester Division. One of the largest and most comprehensive health-care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education, and community service. The NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System which includes acute-care and community hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory sites, and specialty institutions ensures high- quality, cost-effective, and conveniently accessible care to communities throughout the tri-state metropolitan region. The System serves one in four patients in the New York Metropolitan area. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the country's leading medical colleges: Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.