Effects of climate change may pose business risk for healthcare facilities

By Healthcare Facilities Today
April 9, 2013

The effects of climate change on healthcare facilities are not hypothetical future situations, but rather real and current events that will only continue, argues an article in Forbes.

The healthcare sector as a whole is impacted by climate change, due to a deteriorating environment that will lead to greater healthcare needs, says Gary Cohen, co-founder and president of Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth, in the article. But healthcare facilities themselves are also directly impacted and the threat needs to be addressed.

Cohen gives the examples of hospitals in Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy that suffered significant flooding, loss of research materials and extended closures. Healthcare facilities need resiliency in design and operations in order to be prepared for extreme weather, he says, citing the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, which considered climate change a key business risk. The hospital uses on-site power, operable windows and designed the building with the mechanical plant on the roof to mitigate the risk from climate change.  

Healthcare facilities, as significant consumers of energy, and as part of a sector that represents 18 percent of U.S. GDP, are also poised to facilitate the transition to a "post-fossil fuel economy," says the article. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels has the dual effect of boosting resiliency and supporting the healing mission of healthcare, Cohen says.

The article is part of a special series for World Health Day.

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