Health systems form coalition to address climate change in Washington State

Eight major health systems in Washington State are joining forces to advocate for policy solutions to climate change. 

Titled the Washington Health Care Climate Alliance (WA Alliance), the coalition intends to safeguard Washington communities from the deleterious health impacts of climate change and advocate for “climate-smart” policies. 

Climate change is already impacting the health of Washingtonians. We must act now to prevent the climate crisis from devastating our health and the health of future generations,” says Governor Jay Inslee. 

“I applaud the members of the Washington Health Care Climate Alliance for uniting to protect their patients and the planet, and to make their hospitals and health care systems more sustainable and resilient.”

The eight health systems joining the WA Alliance are: CHI Franciscan, Kaiser Permanente, MultiCare, Providence St, Joseph Health, Seattle Children’s, Swedish Health Services, UW Medicine, and Virginia Mason Medical Center.

 

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Between the eight members, 40 hospitals and over 1000 health health care facilities in Washington are represented. The coalition wields $25 billion in annual operating revenue.

The central aim of WA Alliance will be to shore up health care sector expertise and direct it toward legislative and regulatory advocacy. Specific policy areas the coalition plans to take on include energy, transportation, food, waste, infrastructure, and community resilience. 

The WA Alliance is launching in collaboration with Health Care Without Harm, an organization that “works to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice.” The organization also supports similar alliances in California and Massachusetts

Health care needs to expand its healing mission to healing communities and the planet which sustains us all,” says Health Care Without Harm’s president and co-founder Gary Cohen. 

Hospitals are on the front lines of the climate crisis. Health care must be part of the solution, mitigating their footprint, investing in climate-ready facilities, and becoming advocates for clean energy policies.”

An official rollout for the WA Alliance will take place at a climate and health educational symposium for health professionals. The symposium, “Health in a Changing Climate: Understanding Impacts and Opportunities for Action,” will be hosted by Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle on December 7.