Carilion Clinic event features health in a changing climate

CarillionVirginia Department of Health's chief deputy commissioner Dr. Parham Jaberi addresses the audience.

By Sarah Spengeman

Carilion Clinic, a Practice Greenhealth member located in Roanoke, Va., recently hosted a successful climate and health educational event for Carilion physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals, as well as for medical and nursing students. 

The event, “Healthcare in a Changing Climate: Understanding the Impacts on Virginians,” began with a special address from Dr. Parham Jaberi, Virginia Department of Health’s chief deputy commissioner. Jaberi spoke about the ways climate change is impacting health and health care in the state, including increased hospitalizations from heat-related illnesses. He highlighted the Department of Health’s collaboration with partner organizations to identify and respond to these impacts and encouraged attendees to educate and protect patients.

"When it comes to where we are today and where we're going with climate change discussions, let's start by talking about public health impacts." - Dr. Parham Jaberi

The event was a collaboration by Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Health Care Without Harm, Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action, and Virginia Tech. The morning program included presentations from experts at Virginia Tech who covered topics such as changes in disease vectors and allergens, heat-related illnesses, and climate effects on water quality and agriculture. A panel of physicians offered cases and examples of how they are seeing these impacts in their patient populations and how vulnerable populations, like people with chronic illnesses and children, are disproportionately impacted.


“It is important that any time the opportunity arises, our clinicians are prepared with the most up-to-date research and ready to speak to the impact of climate on health and the importance of supporting sustainability and climate change solutions,” says Carilion Clinic’s efficiency and sustainability manager Sara Wohlford, MPH, RN.

Afternoon presenters spoke about the many ways climate solutions can protect and promote health. Attendees also learned about specific opportunities for engagement, including Health Care Without Harm’s Physician Network and Nurses Climate Challenge. At the end of the event, each participant committed to doing at least one thing to address climate change in their clinical practice and also in their community.  

“This is all so exciting and refreshing,” said one participant afterward. “I’ll sleep better at night knowing that this topic is so important to Carilion.”

The agenda and slides from each presentation at the conference can be found at the Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action website. We encourage you to consider hosting a similar event at your hospital.