Can hospitals heal the planet? Kathy Gerwig thinks so.
Gerwig, who serves as Kaiser Permanente’s vice president and environmental stewardship officer, recently released a book that explores the intersections of health care and environmental stewardship, advancing the idea that health care organizations need to be addressing their environmental impact if they are truly making an impact on people’s health.
“Greening Health Care: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet” looks back over the nearly 20-year history of the green revolution in health care, examining the challenges and rewards of integrating sustainability into the health care sector.
“Health care has a large environmental footprint, but it can also play a crucial role in addressing the major environmental challenges of our time,” explains Gerwig. “The health of the environment is directly tied to the health of communities. By eliminating or mitigating environmental contributors to disease, we in health care can create healthier communities and help people lead healthier lives.”
Published by the Oxford University Press, “Greening Health Care: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet” presents practical solutions for health care organizations and clinicians to improve their environments and the health of their communities. It covers topics such as climate action, making food services sustainable, managing hospital waste, greening medical buildings, and buying products that are environmentally responsible.
A major theme that permeates the book is the lessons learned through collaboration with other partners. The achievements to date in greening the health care sector have been the result of a great deal of support from other major health systems, non-governmental organizations, suppliers, and community groups.
“We have an opportunity — and an obligation — to address the impacts that health care makes on the environment,” says Gerwig. “And we can do that faster and more effectively if we work together.”
The book is now available at leading book retailers, including online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. All proceeds from the book are being donated to Health Care Without Harm, a non-profit coalition working to transform the health sector worldwide to become ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice. You can find more information about the book here.