Hybrid Cars and New Name Signal Fresh Approach to Home Care
Release Date: 07/30/2008

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50 cars presented to staff during July 24 celebration at Midlands Hospital

OMAHA, Neb. — With gas prices hovering around the four dollar mark and no relief in sight, many Omahans are trading in their gas-guzzling SUVs for hybrid vehicles. For some it’s about cost savings – for others it’s about being environmentally responsible. For Alegent Health – it’s a little of both. “Moving home health to a hybrid fleet is the right thing to do,” said CEO Wayne Sensor. “We are very serious about being good stewards of our resources and our world. Our sponsors expect it and our patients and staff deserve it.”

Alegent Health’s home care nurses log more than 800,000 miles a year taking care of patients from the very young to not-so-young. When the group adopted the new name “Alegent Health at Home” it decided to make another move that would help the environment, the bottom line and our patients -move to hybrid cars.

“Alegent Health At Home provides a wide range of home care services for more than 16,000 patients each year,” said Denise McNitt, operations leader of Alegent Health at Home program. “By offering, hospice care, infusion and home medical equipment services our patients can stay safely and comfortably in their own homes. As we looked at the driving expenses our employees were incurring and we were reimbursing we knew there had to be a better way.”

In total, Alegent Health at Home paid out $400,000 last year in travel expenses prompting McNitt and Alegent Health to look at options. Topping the list – leasing a fleet of hybrid cars through Enterprise Fleet Management for the nurses, therapists, aids and chaplains who, like nurse Melanie Welch, make house calls.

“I visit around six patients during my work day which is roughly 30 mile drive round trip, so my SUV was really my office. Although it’s a hybrid and gets 26 miles per gallon, it still costs me $60 every time I fill up, which gets pretty expensive. I’m looking forward to driving a Prius which gets much better gas mileage,” said Welch.

According to Toyota, the Prius gets on average 48 miles per gallon in town, which translates into fewer stops at the gas pump and time saved for employees. In addition, Welch says the car has a generous amount of trunk space so employees can carry their medical equipment and supplies with them and patients will see the name Alegent Health at Home right on the cars, which is an added safety measure.

Each employee who drives a Prius will have the opportunity to also drive the car for personal use for $200 a month, which will cover all fuel stops, car insurance and maintenance.

McNitt estimates that making the switch to a more fuel efficient car will save the department $50,000 in the first year alone and that’s a conservative number. In addition, the car’s lower emissions are also better for the environment.

“We are guided by our Mission to provide high quality care to our patients but it also means to be better stewards to the environment and this change allows us to do just that,” said McNitt.

Welch agrees it’s a win-win for everyone. “I’m glad Alegent Health is taking steps to try and reduce the carbon footprint that’s left on the environment. By delivering cost-effective, high quality health care for the body, mind and spirit, the service we provide the community is that much more important.”

As an organization, Alegent Health is looking for ways to reduce fuel and energy consumption without impacting patient care. Mike Anderson, vice president of sustainability says the health of our environment is a growing concern for Alegent Health, which is encouraging employees to recycle, rethink driving to meetings that can be joined by conference call and to remember that sustainability is about leaving a legacy.

“It is about more than going green,” said Anderson. “With each new venture, Alegent Health is taking steps to leave the world a better, healthier place for future generations. That means we are taking a hard look at the way we do things, our habits and our culture to find better solutions. Allowing our employees to use more energy efficient hybrid cars is just the start on the long journey toward sustainability.”

About Alegent Health Alegent Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based health care system in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa with nine acute care hospitals, more than 100 sites of service, over 1,300 physicians on its medical staff and 9,000 employees. Alegent Health is making healthcare better with an exceptional commitment to quality and by providing patient focused care for the body, mind and spirit of every person consistent with its faith-based mission. Alegent Health continues the health ministry begun by its sponsors, Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems, more than a hundred years ago. At Alegent Health, patients and their families find a continuum of care, from women's and children's services, primary care, wellness counseling, and senior care to cardiovascular services, orthopaedics, oncology, physical rehabilitation, home care and behavioral health. Alegent Health can be found online at www.alegent.com or at 1-800-Alegent.