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New Research to Examine How Essential Hospitals Respond to Burden of Climate Change on Vulnerable Populations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON — America’s Essential Hospitals has embarked on a research project to understand essential hospital practices related to climate change, including how hospitals respond to the burden of climate change on vulnerable people.

The project, funded by The Kresge Foundation, will examine what support essential hospitals need to achieve climate resiliency—making hospitals and communities better able to adapt to climate change—and the challenges they face reaching that goal.

“Environmental factors and other social determinants of health weigh heaviest on the vulnerable people essential hospitals serve, and climate change threatens to make matters worse,” said Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals. “This project will help us understand and share the ways hospitals can mitigate this threat.”

Essential Hospitals Institute, the association’s research arm, will conduct the project, reflecting its ongoing work on population health and the social, economic, and demographic factors that influence health. Extreme heat and cold, flooding, food shortages, and natural disasters due to climate change will magnify the effects of these social determinants and create new health care challenges for hospitals. The Institute will use a survey, interviews, and site visits to learn what hospitals do related to climate change and resiliency, and it will produce a white paper this fall on overall findings, answers to key questions, and recommendations for policymakers and funders.

As part of this work, the Institute also will explore how hospitals are reducing the carbon footprint of the nation’s health care industry, which accounted for nearly 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, according to research.

Association members stand out among hospitals working to improve energy efficiency and reduce their impact on the environment. For example, Boston Medical Center cut emissions by 50 percent through campus redesign, and the hospital recently announced a solar power purchase agreement that will put it on track to become the first carbon-neutral hospital.

“Essential hospitals have a long experience making the lived environment better in communities that face the greatest environmental threats to good health,” said Kalpana Ramiah, DrPH, MSc, Institute director and the association’s vice president of innovation. “Identifying the most effective strategies among our members will help all hospitals replicate these successes in other communities.”

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About America’s Essential Hospitals

America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. We support our more than 300 members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education. Communities depend on essential hospitals to provide specialized, lifesaving services; train the health care workforce; advance public health and health equity; and coordinate care. Essential hospitals innovate and adapt to lead the way to more effective and efficient care. Learn more at essentialhospitals.org.

About Essential Hospitals Institute

Essential Hospitals Institute is the research and quality arm of America’s Essential Hospitals. The Institute supports the nation’s essential hospitals as they provide high-quality, equitable, and affordable care to their communities. Working with members of America’s Essential Hospitals, we identify promising practices from the field, conduct research, disseminate innovative strategies, and help our members improve their organizational performance. We do all of this with an eye toward improving individual and population health, especially for vulnerable people.

Contact:
Carl Graziano
cgraziano@essentialhospitals.org
202.585.0102

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