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Health, Science and Environment

Hospitals prepare for a changing climate

flickr user: John Eisenschenk

It’s been a year of natural disasters in the U.S., with wildfires on the west coast, hurricanes in the south – and even flooding along Lake Ontario.  Are hospitals prepared to deal with extreme weather and other impacts of climate change?    

In the past doctors may have said that their focus is on getting people healthy – and avoided an issue like climate change. 

But Healthcare Without Harm’s Robin Guenther says climate change is a health issue – and doctors and hospitals in the Great Lakes region must prepare. It can contribute to asthma from air pollution, or illness from extreme heat.  

"I certainly think there are hospitals in Chicago, and in Duluth, and in all those cities that would be able to find commonality about the stresses that they face from climate change and the solutions to those stresses," Guenther says.

Several organizations, including Healthcare Without Harm, recently hosted a day-long summit in Cleveland. It focused on making sure the city can handle extreme weather that comes with climate change – like blizzards and intense rainstorms.

Guenther says the healthcare industry also can help by reducing its carbon footprint through renewable energy.