Climate Action

Climate-Resilient Hospitals for Safer Communities

Climate change is one of the most significant public health threats of our time. In Ohio, increased frequency of extreme temperatures and precipitation events, as well as poor air quality, are examples of climate-change-related consequences that are already impacting the health of our citizens, especially children and other vulnerable populations. Fortunately, climate action is an opportunity for the health care sector to increase operating efficiency, steward financial and environmental resources, and protect public health.

In 2014, University Hospitals participated in the White House launch of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Sustainable and Climate Resilient Healthcare Facilities Initiative, which provides a road map for health care organizations to prepare for and mitigate increasingly frequent environmental hazards.

University Hospitals has an Emergency Operations Plan for its main campus, UH Case Medical Center, and each of its eight community medical centers, as well as a structure for deploying a system-level response. Several specific emergency events included in these plans are relevant to climate-change-related risks – such as response to a surge in patient volume, preparedness for damage to the water supply and response to extreme weather events. We are committed to augmenting our system-level hazard vulnerability analysis with climate vulnerability assessments. In addition, we are committed to increasing our ongoing energy-conservation measures to help ensure long-term resilience in the ability to operate our buildings, and to educate our stakeholders about the impacts of climate change on our region’s public health. Beyond these efforts, UH is engaged in the City of Cleveland’s Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative, which includes promoting climate resilience in the city and region.

Healthcare Climate Council

UH is represented on the Healthcare Climate Council, a leadership network of hospitals committed to strengthening the health sector’s response to climate change. Established by Healthcare Without Harm in 2014, the council acts as an advocate within the industry and in the national policy arena to educate peers and key stakeholders about climate change as a public health issue, on which health care organizations have a unique opportunity and obligation to act.

City Climate Action Advisory Committee

The UH Office of Sustainability is represented locally on the City of Cleveland’s Climate Action Advisory Committee (CAAC). The primary goal of this committee was to create a formal climate plan in 2013 for the region and strategize ways for individuals, businesses and institutions to subsequently carry out action items identified within the plan. View the Cleveland Climate Action plan.

The CAAC continues to meet to drive action for climate mitigation and resilience at the neighborhood level, including helping homeowners and small businesses to install solar panels, developing a climate action fund to provide grants for neighborhood climate projects, and aligning with the focus areas of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit (2014 was the Year of Zero Waste; 2015 is the Year of Clean Water). UH is leveraging its experience with disaster preparedness and continues to partner with the city to better prepare its communities for climate resilience.

10 Environmental Excellence awards

UH earned 10 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award. The awards recognize our health system’s achievements in environmental-sustainability programs and improvements during 2015.

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