It’s not too late to reverse these bleak predictions. Currently, the future depends on getting lawmakers informed on proactive policies to avoid the potential for a damaging public health crisis.
Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is working on it. HCWH is an international non-governmental organization looking to spotlight the public health dimension of the debate that includes mitigation and calls for the health sector to reduce its carbon impact and implement low carbon health care delivery.
Dr. Sarah Spengeman, associate director of the HCWH Climate and Health Program in the U.S. and Canada, explains that communities typically look to hospitals to be the last building standing in cases of extreme weather.
“As the frequency and severity of these events increases due to climate change, it is imperative that hospitals assess their vulnerabilities and harden their infrastructure so they can continue to serve the patients and communities who depend on them,” Spengeman adds.
Health issues connected to climate change are on the rise, with future impacts to include increased respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, premature deaths related to extreme weather events, water-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases.
HCWH is calling for hospitals to adapt their infrastructure and service delivery to protect and meet the needs of the community against new safety threats when extreme weather strikes.
While testifying before Congress, HCWH stated, “For example, investments in energy efficiency improvements in the U.S. building sector will reduce demand on the power grid, reducing pollution and making it less likely hospitals will lose power during periods of extreme heat or cold. Similarly, investments in battery storage for renewable energy and microgrids will help manage times of peak power demand, and allow hospitals to provide care to their communities in the face of grid disruption.”
Dianne Anderson covers education, health, and city government stories with an eye on legislative impacts to diverse communities. She has received awards from the American Cancer Society – Inland Empire, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Over the years, she has reported for the Long Beach Leader and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and been a contributor to the Pasadena Weekly.