Dr. Susie Fitzgerald remembers looking out the window as wildfires engulfed the hospital where she worked.
“There was fire on all three sides,” recalled Fitzgerald. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is serious. We need to get these people out.'”
Almost five years ago, Fitzgerald helped evacuate 122 patients from Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Rosa Medical Center when fire engulfed homes and buildings in Northern California. The smoke-filled hospital was closed for 17 days.
A report released Thursday by the House Ways and Means Committee said health centers across the country were warned that fires, floods, heatwaves and other extreme weather events could endanger health services, damage medical facilities and keep patients out of hospitals. He says he is letting him out of bed.
At the hearing, Dr. Parinda Khatri, CEO of Cherokee Health Systems, told the committee that a pediatric clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee, was forced to close for 10 days this summer due to a heat wave after its air conditioning system failed. Told.
A nearby wildfire forced the evacuation of the Oregon facility in 2020, Elizabeth Schnek of Providence Health told the commission.
A majority of the 63 hospital systems and community health centers that responded to the Commission’s survey said they had experienced at least one extreme weather event at some point in the past five years, and many said they had experienced more than one. I’m here.
The Health Center reports a wide range of economic impacts from weather events, including $28,000 to cover building damage, closures, evacuations, employee overtime, or postponed elective procedures. An emergency that cost $22 million from
According to the report, the organizations are not necessarily representative of the national hospital system, and “larger health care systems with more resources to implement costly interventions and less support. It may represent both “front-line small community-based providers”.
The report shows that medical facilities are investing in more resources, staff, and plans to prepare for emergency weather-related events.
Fitzgerald said staff at the Kaiser Permanente facility reviewed its plans after the 2017 wildfire evacuations and provided new information tag staff to patients during the evacuation with details about their condition and needs. Created a new policy.
Fitzgerald said, “This allows for a much more methodical response.
Paul Biddinger, Chief Preparedness and Continuity Officer for the Brigham Health Care System in New England, Massachusetts, worked with climate scientists after watching hurricanes and floods ravage hospitals in New Orleans, New York City and Kentucky. He said he hired engineers to inspect 30 buildings. For the last 20 years.
“Our health system is clearly fragile,” said Biddinger. “However, many people, including healthcare leaders themselves, are often unaware of the extent of their vulnerability.”
Many of the facilities included in the report indicate that they have organized working groups or have staff dedicated to climate change issues.
Northwell Health in New York, the state’s largest health care provider, has an emergency control room where staff monitor the news on television. Two of the screens are always facing the weather.
The medical system has had to deal with more than 20 weather events in the past five years, from floods that made ambulance access difficult, to gusts and snow that threatened power, said Northwell’s major expenses and major sustainability efforts. Possibility, says Donna Drummond. board member.
Extreme weather also needs to be taken into account when Northwell builds new facilities and hospitals, she said.
“Climate change is here. It’s happening. It’s affecting us,” Drummond said. “We need resilience. Our facilities have to withstand storms and we have to be prepared for these events.”
The healthcare system itself is a driver of climate change, accounting for an estimated 10% of annual carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. President Joe Biden has set a goal to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2030.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to release guidelines for health care centers to track and report these emissions.
“It is clear that more climate-related weather events and rising emissions will continue to worsen health care outcomes, and now is the time to act,” he said.
About half of the facilities that responded to the commission said they track their carbon footprint or use programs to reduce their carbon footprint.
But many medical institutions aren’t doing enough to reduce contamination, Jodie Sherman, associate professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, told the House Ways and Means Committee.
“Voluntary action is not enough to transform the healthcare sector,” Sherman said.
Poor People Should Not Be Responsible for Reducing Healthcare’s Carbon Emissions
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