Tuesday, September 27, 2016 6:31 PM

We are working for a healthier planet

What do the Fresno Madera Medical Society (FMMS), the California Medical Society (CMA), the Health Officers Association of California, and the American Lung Association all have in common? They and many other health organizations have issued statements about the threat that climate change poses to human health, and the need for health care providers and other leaders to address this problem. 
The corporate-wide team committed to helping Community Medical Centers become a greener organization is continuing to learn ways we can contribute to a healthier planet for all of us. Several months ago, Fresno physician Dr. Don Gaede, spoke to our Sustainability Value Analysis Team (S-VAT) about climate change. He explained how rising temperatures increase concentrations of ozone that can harm people with asthma, emphysema and heart disease. Warmer temperatures worsen drought conditions and dry out our forests, contributing to wildfires that add smoke to our already polluted air. Even otherwise healthy people like young athletes and outdoor laborers are at greater risk of heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

Having authored both the FMMS’s and CMA’s Climate Change Resolutions, Dr. Gaede explained that they advocate for educating patients and the medical community about the potential adverse health effects of global climate change. They encourage health care institutions to review and improve their carbon footprints, including their supply chains, and to prepare for climate impacts. Finally they recommend communicating with local, state, and national legislators to request that they take action to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
While Community Medical Centers hasn’t issued a similar statement, we have made a commitment towards being sustainable by buying greener products, recycling what we can and reusing items when it benefits patient care. I’m proud that Community Medical Centers has joined Healthier Hospitals and is participating in several of its challenges.
And we are the first hospital network in California to join the federal Department of Energy's Workplace Charging Challenge by providing free car charging stations for employees and doctors at all of our hospitals. Community is the third Valley employer and among 600 workplaces nationwide to encourage cleaner commuting by helping employees extend the commuting range of their zero emissions vehicles. Encouraging cleaner driving is something that’s crucial to a place where you can often see and taste the dirty air and where we see the effects on people who show up in our emergency rooms in respiratory distress.
In addition, the S-VAT, many departments and individual employees are taking actions to reduce waste and emissions and to conserve resources. Interested employees may contact Rhonda Hightower to join the Green Champions email list for updates on S-VAT initiatives and to exchange ideas. Together, we’re promoting the health of the community by addressing climate change and moving towards a healthier future.
To learn more about this topic and find out who else is speaking out about climate change, go to:  http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/outdoor/climate-change/declaration-on-climate-change.html
Connie Young, RN
Sustainability Coordinator