4 in 5 clinicians want hospitals to address climate change

Around 80% of clinicians care about the actions their hospitals and health systems are taking to address climate change, and 60% feel strongly enough to consider it a factor that affects whether they would take a job, according to a Jan. 24 report from The Commonwealth Fund.

Not only are healthcare systems and hospitals responsible for emitting around 8.5% of U.S. carbon emissions, but climate change also has significant effects on public health, too. 

Both the HHS and the Environmental Protection Agency have acknowledged the threat climate change poses to healthcare, including how it can "disrupt access to health care services, threaten infrastructure, and pose physical and mental health risks." 

In its survey of 1,001 U.S.-based clinicians, The Commonwealth Fund's report also found that hospitals are not alone in the undertaking, — 75% of clinicians are willing to commit to conservation practices both at work and home to do their part as well. 

A majority of hospitals and health systems reported they are focusing on these efforts, or at least plan to clearly define and execute them within the next few years. 

Two priorities emerged as the most common climate change initiatives among hospitals' focus nationwide: reduction of waste and energy consumption. Around 40% reported working to create and define leadership positions, like the role of a chief sustainability officer, to help oversee these initiatives as well as future environmental-related initiatives.

Health systems and hospitals without these priorities and clearly defined goals, and strategic initiatives, can possibly expect to lose employees over the issue if they don't. 

"Less than half of surveyed workers said these policies 'somewhat' or 'to a great extent' influenced their decision to join their current organization, but more than six in 10 said it would impact their decision to seek employment with a future employer," the report states. "More than half said their organization's climate policies and actions affected their decision to remain in their current job." 

Not only is environmental action becoming a retention and recruitment priority across the healthcare landscape, but financial incentive typically comes with actions to reduce waste, consumption and scaling back carbon emissions. 

Hospitals that do take these actions can also take advantage of federal funds to help finance some of these efforts as well.

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