Greening UH in the Community

Climate and sustainability advocacy to support resilience for vulnerable populations.

After connecting to the 2015 groundswell of national and international momentum around connecting climate change to health, wellness and community prosperity, University Hospitals had laid the ground work for our sustainability initiatives in 2016 to be further tied to climate change as a public health imperative. We have also represented the system in webinars, national conferences, and academic and community educational sessions to share the importance of sustainable health care operations to community and global health.

Healthcare Climate Council

UH is represented on the national Healthcare Climate Council, a leadership network of hospitals committed to strengthening the health sector’s response to climate change. Established by Health Care Without Harm in 2014, its goal is to act as advocates 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. UH also took action on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by participating in the launch of the HHS Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities Initiative, and continues to embrace the educational tools and strategies of that initiative.

City of Cleveland 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. The CAAC continues to drive action for climate mitigation and resilience at the neighborhood level by helping homeowners and small businesses to install solar panels, offering a climate action fund to provide grants for neighborhood climate projects, and aligning with the focus areas of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit. A Climate Resilience meeting involving UH and other anchor institutions and stakeholders is being planned for 2017.

Energy, Transportation and Advocacy

UH leveraged the expertise of our new facilities-based system energy manager and drafted a comprehensive energy management plan connected to an aspirational energy reduction goal that will result in as of yet unquantified greenhouse gas emission reductions. We also pursued transportation initiatives that address the second largest contributor to GHG, and we continued to work with national thought partners on collaborative efforts to highlight the health impacts of climate change and concrete actions towards reducing healthcare’s overall contribution to climate change.

Clinical Advocacy

University Hospitals utilizes its clinical expertise to advocate for important sustainability issues that affect public health. Many UH clinical representation in sustainability advocacy efforts in 2016 were undertaken by:

Aparna Bole, MD, FAAP
Medical Director, Community Integration
UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Sustainability Advisor, University Hospitals

University Hospitals utilizes its clinical expertise to advocate for important sustainability issues that affect public health. UH clinical representation in sustainability advocacy efforts includes the following examples from 2016, undertaken by Sustainability Advisor Aparna Bole, MD, and other UH health care providers. UH engaged in technical education and policy advocacy via Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and other professional associations and nonprofit organizations working in relevant clinical and public health areas, including these key events:

  • Lectures and clinical instruction on sustainability: Cleveland Clinic Grand Rounds, Case Western Reserve University Nursing School, Case Western Reserve University School of Medice, UH Osteopathic and UH Pediatric residency lectures on sustainability
  • Climate resiliency and climate action advocacy: Root Cause: Social and Environmental Determinants of Health
  • Antimicrobial stewardship in animal agriculture: SHARPS, PIDS/SHARPS webinar, Healthcare journalists conference
  • American College of Healthcare Executives and HFMA of NE Ohio, “Improving the Health Status of Your Community”, September 2016
  • Zach Reed Violence Prevention Forum (UH anchor mission, hire local), October 2016
  • Ohio Environmental Council Clean Energy Panel, Great Lakes Science Center, October 2016
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health representation

Climate co-benefits in Community Benefit Reporting and Community Health Needs Assessments

In 2016, UH took another step towards a future oriented approach to health care related assessments by working with HCWH and Tohn Environmental Strategies to pilot a Climate Change Community Health Indicators tool. UH Community Benefit Director and Sustainability Manager worked with UH Samaritan Medical Center leaders to include these indicators in its 2016 Community Healthy Needs Assessment. A descriptive paragraph connecting climate change to population health impacts was also included. This work expounds upon previous inclusions of sustainability initiatives in community benefit reporting completed at various UH hospitals.

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