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[VIDEO] Kaiser Permanente Exec Says Hospitals Should Help Heal Planet

As hospitals deliver life-saving care to individuals, Kaiser Permanentes environmental stewardship officer Kathy Gerwig explores the paradox of health c...

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|Aug 14|magazine6 min read

As hospitals deliver life-saving care to individuals, Kaiser Permanente’s environmental stewardship officer Kathy Gerwig explores the paradox of health care and the environment in her newly released book Greening Health Care: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet.

Hospitals can leave behind a substantial environmental footprint that can often be detrimental to environmental and community health, but Gerwig believes there are methods that can change this.

From the health implications of climate change to creating a healthier food system and minimizing hospital waste, Gerwig provides a clear picture of what is happening now in the movement to green health care and what we can expect in the future.

“Health care has a large environmental footprint, but it can also play a crucial role in addressing the major environmental challenges of our time,” said Gerwig. “The health of the environment is directly tied to the health of the communities. By eliminating or mitigating environmental contributors to disease, we in health care can create healthier communities and help people lead healthier lives.”

Health care activities account for eight percent of the total greenhouse emissions produced in the United States. Gerwig believes that the health care sector has an obligation to reduce its environmental impact and usher in a new standard for health care delivery that embraces environmental stewardship.

“For 20 years, Kaiser Permanente has led the health care sector in reducing our societal addictions to fossil fuels, toxic chemicals and industrial agriculture,” said Gary Cohen, president and executive director of Health Care Without Harm, a nonprofit coalition working to transform the health sector worldwide to become ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice. “Their success shows the impact hospitals can make in greening health care and together we have helped build a global movement in service of healing communities and the planet.”

Greening Health Care: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet is available at leading book retailers, including online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.