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EPA Signs Environmental Self-Audit Agreements with Four New York Healthcare Institutions

Release Date: 02/24/2004
Contact Information:
(#04027) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered intoagreements with Exit EPA disclaimer
to conduct comprehensive environmental audits of their facilities. These agreements were reached through EPA's Healthcare Compliance Initiative, an innovative environmental program that helps hospitals and healthcare facilities comply with environmental regulations through a self-audit, under which they assess their facilities for compliance under all major environmental programs, report and correct violations, and subsequently receive relief from penalties.

"I hope that other New York healthcare institutions follow the lead of these hospitals, and enter into healthcare compliance agreements with EPA," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny."Every institution that audits its environmental practices is working to safeguard the environment as well as its workers, patients and visitors. By signing self-audit agreements, healthcare facilities are ensuring that they are good environmental stewards and good neighbors to the communities they serve."

Under the agreement with Mount Sinai, signed by EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny and Mount Sinai's President/CEO, Dr. Kenneth L. Davis, Mount Sinai will audit its environmental practices at its Manhattan and Queens campuses and the North Shore Medical Group, as well as other associated hospital and school facilities. It will identify and report any violations, correct any deficiencies in its environmental compliance and take steps to prevent further recurrence of violations.

"We have always worked closely with the EPA to protect our patients, staff and community," said Dr. Davis. "Thorough self auditing provides the opportunity for to ensure we are being successful."

Administrator Kenny signed a similar agreement with the 11 hospitals of NorMet, a membership organization of non-profit hospitals located in seven Hudson Valley counties just north of the New York metropolitan area. Under the agreement, the hospitals will audit their environmental practices at both their main campuses and all related health service facilities. The eleven hospitals are:

    1. Blythedale Children's Hospital,Valhalla
    2. Bon Secours Community Hospital, Port Jervis
    3. Catskill Regional Medical Center, Harris
    4. Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern
    5. Lawrence Hospital Center, Bronxville
    6. Orange Regional Medical Center, Middletown
    7. Phelps Memorial Hospital, Sleepy Hollow
    8. Putnam County Hospital Center, Carmel
    9. St. Anthony's Hospital, Warwick
    10. St. Francis Hospital and Health Center, Poughkeepsie
    11. St. Joseph's Hospital, Yonkers.

"By bringing together this large group of hospitals in the region, we enabled our hospitals to meet their environmental obligations to the communities they serve in a highly effective manner," said NorMet President, Arthur E. Weintraub.

Also signing agreements with EPA were Samaritan Medical Center's General Counsel, Carolyn Habib, Esq., and Staten Island University Hospital's Executive Vice President Al Glover. Under its agreement, Samaritan will audit the hospital's main campus and several of its affiliated clinics located in Jefferson and northern Oswego counties. "Samaritan Medical Center is pleased to cooperate with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and believes the Healthcare Compliance Initiative is consistent with our desire to ensure environmental compliance in the communities we serve," said Carolyn Habib, Esq.

Staten Island University Hospital will audit its 62 buildings and facilities located in both Staten Island and Brooklyn.

If these institutions correct all violations and abide by the other terms of their individual agreements, EPA has agreed to waive "gravity-based penalties," which are penalties normally based on the seriousness of the violations. The agreements cover 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
    • toxic substances control.
EPA 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 contacted all the hospitals in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and provided free workshops and an informational Web site to alert them to their duties under the law. The Agency also warned them that 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.

To date, EPA has signed 18 self-audit agreements with hospitals in New York and New Jersey. In addition, 14 self-audit agreements have been signed under a similar program for colleges and universities. Additional agreements are being developed and more are expected.