Honoring Individuals Who Excel in Promoting Sustainable Health

By Greenhealth Staff on April 23, 2013

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) has honored six outstanding individuals with its annual awards, given in a variety of categories to persons who have contributed to the implementation of sustainable health care. “We have an outstanding group of award winners this year,” states Gary Cohen, president and co-founder of Health Care Without Harm. “It is heartening to see that we have not only people who have dedicated years to the betterment of human health, but also we are recognizing many young people who are just beginning their work.”

Bill Ravanesi

This year’s Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Environmental Health Hero Award is presented to Bill Ravanesi—a photographer, documentarian, activist, and tireless champion for social justice.

“Bill is one of the most selfless and devoted activists I have ever met,” states HCWH president and co-founder Gary Cohen. “He epitomizes the work celebrated by Health Care Without Harm’s Environmental Health Hero Award. “He has been one of the critical anchors of the organization since its inception and has consistently created innovative programs that have moved across the country.”

Ravanesi has been with HCWH since 1997 and has over 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector covering health care, public health, and environmental issues. Currently senior director of HCWH’s Green Building and Energy Program, Ravanesi co-coordinates the Boston Green Ribbon Commission’s Healthcare Working Group, assisting Boston hospitals to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and to become champions for climate change.

Before joining HCWH, Ravanesi had a long and storied career in photojournalism and social change. In 1972, while enrolled in a visual arts graduate program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he met a local reporter who introduced him to Cesar Chavez at the United Farm Workers “Strike House.” Chavez offered Ravanesi a position on the front lines of the California farm labor struggle, “La Causa,” to document the movement in photographs. “I ended up volunteering my time for 100 days per year for the next seven years documenting the UFW struggle, the vineyards, the strikers, the boycott,” writes Ravanesi. “I witnessed first-hand the brutalities of the Teamsters, the rampant use of pesticides and toxic exposures to farmworkers, and learned that farmworkers harvested discrimination and poverty, and that became a central theme of my photographic work.”

In 1981, Ravanesi’s portrait series of Filipino farmworkers was featured as a cover story in Harvard Magazine. This work was exhibited at the Ford Foundation, and under its auspices the exhibition traveled to university galleries and museums during the next several years. The traveling exhibition was titled, “Rural Farm Workers-West/Southwest, an exhibition of Photographs by Bill Ravanesi.”

In 1970, Ravanesi’s parents moved to East Woburn, Massachusetts. Little did they realize their new home was in the middle of a budding cancer cluster, not yet discovered. The only tell-tale sign was a slight taste to the water. However, a profound tragedy was about to unfold in their unsuspecting neighborhood. Just a few blocks down, a young child was developing cancer, with another eight to follow on nearby streets. The water contained the cancer-causing chemical trichloroethylene. The affected families filed the original lawsuit against W.R. GRACE Chemical Co. and two other corporations. The story was later made famous through the book and movie called “A Civil Action.”

Although his parents escaped the dangers from the wells in Woburn, his father, who had been a laborer in the Charlestown Naval Shipyard earlier in his career, was cut down at age 64 by mesothelioma, a fatal cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Five million other shipyard workers were heavily exposed to asbestos, and toxic chemicals, including fuels, PCB, and heavy metals of all kinds. “Toxic trespass was weaving its way into my life in a very personal and tragic way,” Ravanesi writes. His response to his father’s preventable exposure to asbestos was a photo documentary (told through the eyes of the victims), entitled “Breath Taken: The Landscape and Biography of Asbestos.”

Ravanesi has spent much time in his latter career working with hospitals to reduce contamination of the environment. He assisted New England hospitals in toxicity and waste reduction, including eliminating mercury from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He later leveraged this victory to convince the City of Boston to restrict mercury from all the city’s hospitals and helped create momentum for mercury elimination throughout the U.S. health care system.  His work has also focused on promoting green building, energy efficiency, and climate change programs centered on sustainability and resiliency.

In 2004, he was the principal organizer of “Design for Health: Summit for Massachusetts Health Care Decision Makers.” This summit was instrumental in advancing sustainability initiatives and green building capital projects in Massachusetts health care facilities and creating a model that also was adopted by hospitals all around the United States.

In 2010 Ravanesi traveled to India to film “A Healing Garden Grows in Bhopal” about holistic treatments that are provided to survivors of the Bhopal Union Carbide pesticide disaster at the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal. In April 2012, he received the US Environmental Protection Agency’s New England Environmental Merit Award for “extraordinary efforts to protect New England’s Environment.”

Ravanesi is a former board member of Practice Greenhealth, and Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility. He was founder and president of the Center for Visual Arts in the Public Interest. He currently is a board member of Boston-based Occupational Health Initiatives. Ravanesi’s visual work can be found in a number of permanent collections.


Dr. Patricia Butterfield Honored with the
Charlotte Brody Award

The Nursing Work Group of HCWH, along with The Luminary Project, has named Patricia Butterfield, PhD, RN, as the 2013 Recipient of the Charlotte Brody Award. This Award was created in 2006 by HCWH to honor Charlotte Brody, RN, one of the founders of HCWH and a lifelong advocate for social change. The Charlotte Brody Award winner must be a Guiding Light of the The Luminary Project. Guiding Lights are members of a group of nurses that have been selected by their peers as outstanding proponents of environmental health. The Luminary Project encourages nurses to engage in environmental health and to tell their stories to inspire others to do the same.

Dr. Butterfield is a public health nurse with expertise in environmental health interventions, rural environmental health, and household level environmental contamination. She has a master’s of science degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and a PhD in Nursing from Oregon Health and Science University. Her postdoctoral work was completed at OHSU’s Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology.

Dr. Butterfield received R01 support to conduct the nation’s first randomized controlled trial addressing an environmental health intervention delivered by rural public health nurses. She has authored numerous scientific and conceptual papers addressing public health practice, rural health practice, rural public health disparities, and environmental health risk reduction. She is also the author of “Upstream Thinking,” a seminal nursing theory paper widely read within nursing and public health.

“It is heartening to see that we have not only people who have dedicated years to the betterment of human health, but also we are recognizing many young people who are just beginning their work.”

—Gary Cohen, President and Co-Founder of Health Care Without Harm

Stephanie Davis Winners

The 2013 Stephanie Davis Waste Reduction Scholarship winners are Victoria Rice Bean, RN, CNOR, RNFA—University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle; Christine von Kolnitz Cooley—Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston; and David Zajac—Evans Army Community Hospital, Ft. Carson, Colorado.

Stephanie C. Davis worked tirelessly on health care waste reduction and pollution prevention. With her death, the health care sustainability community lost a great and determined champion. With the support of Health Care Without Harm, Stephanie’s colleagues, friends, and family have established this award and scholarship to recognize and support those in health care organizations who work to “green” health care.

Victoria Rice Bean, RN, CNOR, RNFA, has been a nurse for thirteen years and specialized in surgery for almost her entire career. But she has been an environmentalist her whole life. She loves surgical nursing and finds it absolutely fascinating, but is appalled at the amount of waste generated in surgery. She has successfully “greened” two surgical departments: one in a California Community Hospital, and most recently, The University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.

Bean’s love, respect for, and delight in nature have given her the energy and fueled her commitment for this work. In her personal life, she identifies herself as an “Urban Homesteader,” with a large organic vegetable garden that produces much of her food, year-round. She keeps bees, forages for wild mushrooms, plants and berries, and has a good working knowledge of medicinal herbs, nutritional remedies, and natural health care.

Christine Cooley is the sustainability manager for the Medical University of South Carolina. Upon graduating with a BA from the College of Charleston in 1992, Christine worked as the recycling coordinator for the college. While there, she was instrumental in establishing the SC DHEC Collegiate Recycling Grant Program. In 2004, Cooley co-wrote a recycling book titled Recycling and Beyond: A College Campus Primer. Cooley was appointed to the City of Charleston Green Committee in 2007 and served as the chair of its Recycling and Solid Waste Subcommittee until May 2012. Cooley is a Clemson Extension Master Waste educator, the treasurer for the College and University Recycling Coalition and for the Robert Lunz Group Sierra Club. Cooley is the Secretary for Cooper Estates Neighborhood and active in Grace Episcopal Church as a member of the Flower Guild.

Major David J. Zajac is presently the chief of logistics and the chair of the sustainability committee at the Evans Army Community Hospital, Fort Carson, Colorado. He has led his committee toward annualized cost savings within 18 months exceeding $1 million within the following areas: energy and water conservation, green housekeeping, increased recycling, RMW reductions and single-use medical devices (SUDs), streamlining biomedical service contracts, and a collection of other initiatives. His committee is only two years old and has been awarded two Practice Greenhealth awards: Making Medicine Mercury Free and the Partner for Change Award.  He has a passion for sustainability and likens sustainability to lean business practices to achieve buy-in and positive change.  He has an undergraduate engineering degree from Norwich University and a master’s of science from Cornell University.

HCWH is an international coalition of more than 508 organizations in 53 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on HCWH, visit www.noharm.org.


Hollie Shaner-McRae Nursing Student Essay Contest

Hollie Shaner-McRae Nursing Student Essay ContestThe Hollie Shaner-McRae Nursing Student Essay Contest winner is Nicole Makris, a student in the BSN-MSN Segue Program at Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. The award recognizes the environmental work of Hollie Shaner-McRae, DNP, RN, FAAN, coordinator for Professional Nursing Practice at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont. Recipients are chosen through an essay contest in which entrants are asked to discuss how nursing students can encourage the “greening of health care.”

Before pursuing a degree in nursing, Nicole spent several years working as a reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area, writing for community newspapers, Mother Jones, and Change.org’s Sustainable Food blog. She also worked in nonprofit communications for the Independent Media Institute and the Breast Cancer Fund. Nicole holds a B.A. in journalism and environmental science from Antioch College.

Nicole first discovered her passion for the environment and human health when she interned with an ecotoxicologist in Brazil, where she studied the water quality of a stream near a landfill and considered the health implications that heavy metals and fecal coliforms might have on the leicheros, or families that lived atop the landfill in shacks made of trash, earning income from the recyclable materials they found. She later worked as a teaching assistant on Antioch College’s Environmental Field Program, visiting fenceline communities and superfund sites and helping students connect the dots of environmental health disparities.

Nicole came to nursing because she wanted to do hands-on work in the communities that she once wrote about and for which she advocated. She is currently focused on and excited about passing the NCLEX and eventually becoming certified as a family nurse practitioner. She works as a research assistant for the Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU), a project of the Emory University Department of Pediatrics and Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC)




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