The U.S. healthcare system is responsible for 10% of the nation’s carbon emissions and 9% of harmful non-greenhouse air pollutants

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IMPROVING WISCONSIN HEALTH, WHILE LOWERING EMISSIONS & CARE COSTS

Climate-Smart

Healthcare

Climate-Healthcare Can:

Decrease Energy

& Supply Costs

Decrease Climate

Emergencies

Increase Worker

Retention

Increase Community Health

Health care organizations have foundational goals of improving their patients’ health, recruiting and retaining skilled staff, and managing costs, all while generating a broader benefit to their communities. Pursuing energy and material efficiency, shifting to renewable energy, and becoming resilient to natural disasters, otherwise known as Climate-Smart Healthcare, is an under-recognized opportunity for organizations to simultaneously make progress on all those foundational goals.  

Wisconsin is fortunate to have some of the worldwide individual and institutional leaders in this innovative work.

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Over the last decade, Gundersen’s Envision program has made it a leader in healthcare innovation and sustainability. Envision included clean energy projects, energy efficiency solutions such as HVAC retrofitting, and waste reduction initiatives have lowered the system’s carbon and particulate matter emissions by 95% and diverted 64% of waste.  Gundersen’s cost savings from Envision surpassed $24 million in 2021 and the program and their creative waste diversion practices have made them widely popular with patients and the La Crosse community.    For instance, Gundersen donates over 500 meals a month as part of their food waste reduction program. The social and financial benefits of this program illustrate the astounding benefits climate-smart healthcare can provide.

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A Success Story: Gundersen Health Systems

Resources For Building Climate-Smart Initiatives in Your Health System 

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Guides, videos, 

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How to organize a team, who should be on it, and steps to take

The technical how-tos for senior leadership

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How are climate and healthcare connected?

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What is climate-

smart healthcare?

What are the health

harms for Wisconsin?

Medical Alert, Climate Change Health

Harms for Wisconsinites include heat-related illness, worsening chronic illnesses, injuries and deaths from dangerous weather events, infectious diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks, illnesses from contaminated food and water, and mental health problems.

The health of anyone  can be harmed by climate change, but some of us face greater risk than others. Children, athletes, pregnant women, the elderly, some communities of color, people with chronic illnesses and allergies, and the poor are more likely to be harmed.

Climate action, such as clean energy can also provide immediate health benefits for Wisconsin communities. 100% in-state clean energy production would prevent the following incidents of illness in Wisconsin each year: 1,910 premature deaths 650 respiratory ER visits 1,580 cases of acute bronchitis 49,400 respiratory symptom cases 873,000 minor restricted activity days 148,000 work loss days 34,400 cases of asthma exacerbation 670 hospital admissions 650 heart attacks. These avoided health damages cost us an estimated $21 billion annually. 

 

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Organize

Join WHPCA's Climate-Smart Healthcare Team

Our group meets virtually once a month to push forward climate-smart efforts.  We help Wisconsin’s health systems become world-leaders in providing carbon-free care, improve the climate-resiliency of their operations, and help their communities adapt to climate change. Additionally, we engage health system leaders to support critical climate policies. 

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Team-building resources

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The resources below are behind an account wall. They can be accessed for free by signing up for Nurses Climate Challenge.

 

Implement

Guides for

getting started

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Website Tools

 

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Our team of health professionals, CEOs, medical experts, and engineers can help answer your questions, share other resources, or steer you in the right direction. Just ask your question and we will get back to you soon!

These groups can provide you with further resources, advising, and information to help you reach your system's climate-smart goals. 

Sources cited