How can health professionals best communicate on climate change? By learning best communication techniques and speaking about what they know. As the Huffington Post article mentions below, hospitals contribute to America's public health problems because they are responsible for 8% of U.S.. greenhouse gas emissions and use a tremendous amount of resources. How backwards. Climate for Health organizes health professionals who are willing to take on this challenge. Don't worry, we know you're already busy. Participation comes at all levels and in all forms. For example, you don't need to have close ties with the head of facilities in order to "green" your institution. Learning how to communicate the issues at hand and how to begin addressing them is key. Join our dynamic team of health leaders and let us help get you started.
As your stretcher is wheeled into a hospital operating room (OR) and you stare up at the bright surgical lights, you are likely thinking about your impending surgery, not if those lights have LED bulbs or if the anesthetic gas you are about to breathe contributes to climate change. But maybe you should be. Hospitals consume over 10% of the nation's energy and generate more than 5.9 million tons of waste a year, and the health care sector is responsible for 8% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The OR consumes more than its fair share of resources, eating up, on average, one third of a hospital's supply costs, consuming a considerable amount of energy, and producing 20-30% of a hospital's total waste.1
Despite the Hippocratic Oath to "First, do no harm," the way in which hospitals operate today can negatively impact the health of patients, staff, the community, and the environment. The burning of fossil fuels and the pollution of our air and water have been shown to have direct ties to an increase in asthma and allergies, certain types of cancers, immune-mediated diseases, and endocrine dysfunction. As hospitals increasingly recognize the fundamental connection between environmental and human health, there is no better place to start reducing our impact than in the OR where a disproportionate amount of resources are used, so even small changes can produce significant results.
The good news is that hospitals nationwide are transforming their surgical suites through environmental innovation. Their work spans everything from waste minimization and recycling, to environmentally preferable purchasing, to energy and water conservation, to better management of anesthetic gases.
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