Green Healthcare in action
“When people hear ‘green office’ they think tree-hugger, hippie, granola no one thinks chic, modern, state-of-the-art,” jokes Steven Koos MD, DDS, a 2008 graduate of the Leadership In Green Health Care course. Dr. Koos and his partners are the founders of ORA Oral Surgery & Implant Studio, the first green dental surgery clinic in the U.S., located in the heart of Chicago. Through extensive research, trial and experimentation, Dr. Koos retrofitted a former tannery, built in 1919, into an elegant space that is often mistaken for a bar or restaurant. It was important for him to show people that composite wood and EcoResin can look as luxurious and inviting as conventional materials.
Dr. Koos describes his experience building Ora Studio as a labor of love, but is quick to acknowledge that he faced many challenges. Neither he nor his contractor had experience constructing green buildings, so he used LEED standards to guide construction, the Green Guide for Health Care for developing green office protocols, and Health Care Without Harm’s environmentally preferable purchasing list.
Dr. Koos recognizes that a green office is much more than eco-friendly building materials. He believes that the people who work in the building are vital to the greening process. “We are trying to educate all of our staff to be in tune with sustainability, so they know why it is important that we chose formaldehyde-free and chlorine-free agrifibers and non-pvc materials”. Says Dr. Koos “this is a newly evolving practice of dental medicine that embraces the precautionary principle and encompasses a simultaneous devotion to a preventative, minimally invasive, patient-centric, as well as global-centric treatment philosophy.”
“I recognized that the opportunities in the dental industry are significant to improve environmental quality through diligent green planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance practices. At ORA, our concern for the environment and the overall health of our employees and patients is a crucial determining factor in the choices of materials, protocols, and technology that we utilize. Some of our achievements include the absence of PBT’s (Persistent Bio-accumulative Toxins), and VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) from our practice environment, and the fact that we do not generate any bio-hazardous waste into the environment.”
“As a clinician, I have a responsibility to investigate any and every new piece of equipment and material on the market.” Dr. Koos only adds new technology to his practice if it meets the following criteria:
- Is this better for the patient? (i.e. non-toxic, less invasive, more preventative, free of harm, etc.)
- Is this more efficient in carrying out treatment? (i.e. less costly to operate, requires fewer resources, is more energy efficient)
- Does this improve treatment outcomes? (i.e. shorter treatment, increased chance of successful outcome, less reliance on invasive outcomes, less dependence on pharmaceutical therapy)
- Is there evidence-based research behind it?
- Is this better for the environment?
Dr. Koos emphasizes that sustainability is not only applicable to large medical institutions, but is crucial for smaller practices like Ora Studio. His practice exemplifies that with relevant resources, health care professionals can provide high quality, cost-effective, and sustainable medical care. He strives to bring the concept of practicing ecologically sustainable medicine and dentistry to private practitioners throughout the United States.
Dr. Koos also holds a position on the EcoDentistry Association’s advisory board. He has partnered and collaborated with many authoritative organizations such as the WHO (World Health Organization), USGBC (United States Green Building Council), the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). With leaders like Dr. Steven Koos, we are bringing a sustainable future into health care of today.