From an article by Joe Cadotte on

An idea sketched on a napkin inside an Ashland restaurant 27 years ago has transformed the Memorial Medical Center into one of only two or three hospitals nationally that runs off of waste wood.

With 99 percent of the hospital’s energy needs coming from wood that might otherwise have been discarded, the Ashland hospital is many steps ahead of the biomass trend we’re seeing today.

In 1984, MMC administrators were looking for ways to restrain health care costs. Their plan was to use a wood burning boiler to supplement three gas boilers that were installed in 1972 when the facility was built. . . .

During its design phase, MMC Vice President Les Whiteaker was in charge of assessing the cost effectiveness of the boiler. “I thought it would take three to four years for the boiler to pay for itself,” he said. To his surprise, energy savings were sufficient to offset the $468,000 investment in just 30 months.

Over the years those savings have amounted to more than $6 million. By burning wood, the hospital annually saves $400,000, making medical services 22 percent less than the state average.