Why Environmental Changes Are a Growing Public Health Crisis

Sister Mary Ellen Leciejewski speaks on the responsibility that healthcare holds in doing “no harm” to the people and communities it serves.

“We believe that health care providers have a clear obligation to the environment as part of our mission to care for the people and communities we serve. For more than two decades, Dignity Health has helped change how our industry cares for the planet, and at the recent Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, we joined other organizations in reaffirming commitments to the environment through the “We Are Still In” campaign. The summit, which took place as a preamble to COP24, brought together more than 10,000 leaders from around the world to showcase the actions states and regions, cities, companies, investors and civil society have taken already to reduce their emissions, as well as secure bold commitments to do even more. Small changes can go a long way for hospitals and other health care providers to simultaneously care for patients and the environment.

Cleaning up their supply chain is a key area where health care providers can significantly impact the environment. Look for non-toxic alternatives for commonly used supplies such as thermometers, blood pressure devices and IV bags. Join individual vendors creating environmentally preferred purchasing programs, like NewGen Surgical’s Small Change, Big Impact EPP that is working to reduce operating room plastic waste. And participate in cooperatives, such as Greenhealth Exchange, which leverages aggregated purchasing power to negotiate competitive pricing for environmentally friendly items.

Hospitals share a responsibility to protect our patients and help our communities live healthier lives, so we must address environmental changes head-on by instituting more environmentally friendly practices. If I have learned anything through our efforts to make our facilities more sustainable, it’s that a series of achievable steps guided by a long-term vision and commitment will make accomplishing this priority possible. It was our shared vision that led Dignity Health to divest our investments from thermal coal, and we were the first health system to do so.”

To read the full article click here