Last month, the importance of health sector engagement in climate solutions was emphasized with the newly appointed White House national climate advisor Gina McCarthy at two separate events.
U.S. Health Care Climate Council member Rachelle Wenger, CommonSpirit Health’s system vice president of public policy and advocacy engagement, participated in a virtual panel with McCarthy hosted by America Is All In.
“For CommonSpirit Health climate change is a public health issue, and also calls into question the very sustainability of health care, “ Wenger said. “[We are] committed more than ever to protecting our patients and communities from the health impacts of climate change while reducing health care costs, improving health equity, and doing our part advocating and accelerating the transition to an equitable low carbon economy.”
Wenger ended with a message of hope and partnership with the Biden administration to deliver on ambitious climate action.
In a virtual event hosted by the American Sustainable Business Council and co-sponsored by Health Care Without Harm, Antonia Herzog, Health Care Without Harm’s associate director of partnerships, advocacy, and equity, asked Gina McCarthy how she plans to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure the health care sector is both accountable for its footprint and can play a larger healing role in our society.
“There is going to be some growth opportunities here. HHS is a large agency and they have never really grabbed the issue of environmental health or environmental justice in a way that I think is as critical as it needs to be. So, this is a really major opportunity for us to change that and to look at the health care infrastructure,” McCarthy said.
“A lot of health care folks have already sent us suggestions,” McCarthy said. “It just takes a little while to steer the ship differently, but now that there is a captain there, it is going to be a much different story. So we’ll be tracking that and working on it and everybody’s help will be welcome on that as well.”
Health Care Without Harm will continue to provide insight and guidance to policymakers. Read our climate-smart health care recommendations previously shared with the Biden-Harris administration and Congress.
“Health care leaders have an important role to play in both transforming the health care sector and addressing the environmental and health inequities in our country and across the globe,” said Jessica Wolff, Health Care Without Harm’s climate and health director. “We will continue to provide opportunities for health care institutions and professionals to help shape policies to address the climate crisis, build resilience in communities, and promote health equity.”