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29 Massachusetts Hospitals Commit to Antibiotic Stewardship through Food Purchasing

Partnering with the Massachusetts Hospital Association and Health Care Without Harm, these hospitals are forging new paths for prevention-based healthcare

The New England Healthy Food in Health Care program works with over 150 hospitals and other health care facilities across New England to support the development of a sustainable regional food system. These efforts are in close alignment with Food Solutions New England’s goal to increase regional self-reliance in a way that encourages human and environmental health.  To this end we are excited to announce, that in cooperation with the Massachusetts Hospital Association, 29 Massachusetts-based hospitals have pledged to transition meat or poultry items to products raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics.  Many of pledge signing facilities are sourcing these sustainably raised products from within New England. "We are thrilled that health care is taking a leadership role in the development of a sustainable New England food system while simultaneously addressing the very real threat of antibiotic resistance" said Jennifer Obadia the Eastern US Regional Director for HFHC.

Twenty-nine member hospitals from across the state have signed the Massachusetts Hospital Association’s (MHA) Antibiotic Stewardship Commitment in collaboration with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), agreeing to purchase and serve at least one meat item that is raised without routine antibiotics within their food services menu offerings. By doing so, these hospitals leverage their purchasing dollars to stimulate broader market shifts, connect their food service operations more closely with their clinical priorities, and improve the overall health of their workers, patients, and community. 

“Hospitals have always collaborated with the communities they serve to promote a healthier future for their patients, staff, and residents. In particular, Massachusetts hospitals have focused many of their community benefits programs and other initiatives to prioritize health prevention education,” said MHA President and CEO Lynn Nicholas. “This effort will serve as a strong platform to develop specific statewide goals that appropriately tie our clinical expertise with community health prevention goals.”

This commitment comes at a time when the Centers for Disease Control has deemed rising rates of antibiotic resistance to be the “most pressing public health concern of our time” and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has mandated that all nursing homes institute antibiotic stewardship programs. 

“Massachusetts has long been a leader in healthcare innovation and the commitment by these hospitals continues that tradition serving as a model of leadership in aligning all aspects of healthcare with public health,” said Stacia Clinton, National Director for HCWH’s Healthy Food in Health Care program. 

Massachusetts hospitals that have signed the Antibiotic Stewardship Commitment to date are:

  • Athol Hospital
  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center
  • Baystate Mary Lane Hospital
  • Baystate Medical Center
  • Baystate Noble Hospital
  • Baystate Wing Hospital
  • Berkshire Medical Center
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth
  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • Boston Medical Center
  • Brigham & Women's
  • Brigham & Women's Faulkner
  • Cambridge Health Alliance
  • Cooley Dickinson Hospital
  • Emerson Hospital
  • Fairview Hospital
  • Heywood Hospital
  • Holyoke Medical Center
  • Mercy Medical Center
  • Milford-Regional Medical Center
  • New England Baptist Hospital
  • North Shore Medical Center
  • Providence Behavioral Health Hospital
  • Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital
  • Southcoast Health
  • Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital - Cape Cod
  • Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital - Cambridge
  • Umass Memorial Medical Center
  • Winchester Hospital

Some 80% of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animal agriculture, and the link between this use and the emergence of antibiotic resistant infections is clear. National policies to restrict antibiotic use in animals raised for meat have been slow to take hold, but public concern has led some national retailers to take voluntary action. 

While this is an exciting first step, the 29 Massachusetts healthcare facilities that have signed on to the MHA Antibiotic Stewardship Commitment are pursuing a bolder path to encourage production without the use of any routine sub-therapeutic antibiotics, reserving their use for human health and diagnosed sickness in animal production. 

As part of its ongoing commitment to this project, MHA has provided ongoing support to their member facilities through a partnership with HCWH. MHA’s activities included:

  • Co-Hosting a Farm to Health Care Summit with keynote from Representative Louise Slaughter’s office, a sponsor of the Preservation of Antibiotic for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA)
  • Co-Hosting a Local Meat Workshop bringing together national institutional distributors, food service management companies, select producers and spurring the development of a local meat purchasing project to stimulate growth of meat raised without routine antibiotics locally. 
  • Promoting educational webinars for administrators, clinicians, and food service operators featuring leaders in this effort from throughout the country
  • Promoting the HCWH Food Day activity where 32 MA hospitals served 1,260 pounds of meat and poultry raised without routine antibiotics with two facilities reporting sourcing from local farms. 

“MHA applauds the leadership of these 29 hospitals in their pursuit of healthier food options for patients, employees, and members of the community,” Nicholas said. “We look forward to continued efforts to ensure that non-therapeutic antibiotics are even further reduced from our healthcare facilities’ food supply.” 

The MHA Antibiotic Stewardship Commitment is also generating movement among institutional suppliers. Several businesses including Unidine, Compass Group, Sysco Boston, and US Foods offered statements outlining their support and progress in prioritizing meat raised without routine antibiotics

About Massachusetts Hospital Association

The Massachusetts Hospital Association is a voluntary, not-for-profit organization comprised of hospitals and health systems, related organizations, and other members with a common interest in promoting the good health of the people of the Commonwealth. 

About Health Care Without Harm

Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform the health sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it becomes ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice. 


This post comes from Health Care Without Harm and Jen Obadia, Eastern Region Director of Health Care Without Harm's Healthy Food in Health Care program.