Monday, August 1, 2016 12:00 AM

Joining challenge for cleaner air

In a region that historically been among the most polluted in the nation with high rates of asthma and lung disease, Community Medical Centers is working to improve the San Joaquin Valley Air basin. It’s 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 its 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.

In California – where electricity is produced by a combination of renewable sources, nuclear, gas and hydroelectric plants – an electric car releases the same amount of greenhouse gasses as a gasoline-powered car getting 95 miles per gallon, according to a June 2014 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. And other studies show that even when electric cars are pulling their electricity from a gas-fired plant it produces up to 60 percent less ozone and particulates than a car with an internal combustion engine.

Kevin Barcelos, RN, manager of informatics and education at Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital, plugs his car in at work for free.Community has installed more than 20 car charging stations at four campuses, including all the hospitals and corporate offices. And Community has plans for 45 more charging stations, plus 71 preferred parking spots for clean air vehicles in a new employee parking garage being built next year at Community Regional Medical Center.

Erin Kennedy reported this story. Reach her at