Providers get semi-friendly

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Medicare woes may have providers seeing red, but that hasn’t stopped some companies from “going green.”

Although 53% of the 112 respondents to a recent HME NewsPoll said they do not have plans over the next year to make their company more eco-friendly, some providers have taken “small, but cumulative” steps to save money by conserving energy.

Provider Fred Jackson, for example, said he has reduced his energy needs by running cooling and heating systems on timers, and by installing an evaporative cooler in a warehouse that’s connected to his 7,200-square-foot retail space.

“Sometimes we just turn off the air conditioning and open the warehouse door, and the cooler seems to do a better job than the air conditioning,” said Jackson, president of Salida Medical and Respiratory in Salida, Colo. “We do that very frequently during the summer time.”

Provider Mark Kavit said he switched to low energy light bulbs several years ago. He would like to “go off the grid” with solar or wind energy, but there are still limits to his eco-friendliness.

“At this point, it’s not really economically feasible,” said Kavit, owner of Charlottesville, Va.-based Wheelchairs and Scooters.

At the very least, many providers recycle-not only cardboard, paper and packaging, but also equipment.

“We send the aluminum cylinders and even the steel cylinders to be sold for recycling,” Jackson said. “And we do have someone who comes and picks up old hospital beds.”

For some providers, though, “going green” costs too much green, making it the last thing on their minds.

“Due to reimbursement cuts from Medicare, our company can’t afford to become ‘eco-friendly,’” said Charles Peterson, president of Houston-based Redi-Quip Medical Equipment. “We can barely afford to be friendly.”