3 Reasons Why Health Centers Must Prepare For Climate Change

Jan 19, 2024 | Nurse-Led Care News |

It’s official: 2023 was the hottest year on record. Less than two weeks after the start of the new year, scientists at NASA confirmed that global temperatures were around 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit above baseline, and there’s every reason to believe 2024 will be even worse.

As healthcare professionals, we don’t need to tell you the existential threat to humanity and human health that climate change poses. Climate-related disasters are now everyday news – melting glaciers, extreme heat, devastating wildfires – and it’s no surprise that it can feel overwhelming, but it’s essential that our healthcare system prepare for climate change emergencies.

Here are some of the reasons why climate change emergency preparedness is essential for your health center:

1. Health Centers Serve the People Most Vulnerable to Climate Change Disasters

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) serve 30.5 million people in the U.S. – that’s close to 10% of the population, including 6.1 million people in public housing. Residents of public housing and patients to FQHCs are disproportionately: low income, elderly, children, and people with disabilities. Underserved and marginalized communities are the most vulnerable to climate change and disasters. Health centers play an essential role in ensuring health equity.

2. Heat Waves Exacerbate Existing Health Issues

Climate change and rising heat don’t just cause extreme disasters, they impact people’s daily lives and health as well. Heat waves increase issues with asthma, kidney injuries, risk of stroke, adverse pregnancy outcomes, worsened sleep patterns, stress mental health, and aggravate underlying cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.

3. Health Centers Need to Improve Physical Infrastructure to Withstand Extreme Weather

It’s no secret that climate change is increasing extreme weather. In addition to the health impact on the patients that you serve - extreme weather also threatens vital health center infrastructure.

In a recent webinar, Gianna Van Winkle, Director of Emergency Management Programs for The Florida Association of Community Health Centers, outlined some ways that health centers in her state are adapting to climate change by increasing their resilience to flooding - an increasingly common risk in many parts of the country. Flooding resilience and prevention improvements include: installing renewable energy systems and backup generators, elevating structures and critical equipment, flood-proofing electrical and data infrastructure, and much more.

 

Learn More About How Your Health Center Can Prepare for Climate Change

 

Join Us for Our Next Emergency Preparedness Webinar

Preparing Your Health Center For Extreme Heat And Wildfires - February 8, 2024 at 2 pm Eastern Time
REGISTER HERE

 

Always check our Upcoming Webinars page for the latest webinars. It’s your opportunity to learn, grow professionally, and earn free CNE credits.

More Resources:

 

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About The Author

Justin Gero, MS was the Senior Manager of Public Affairs at the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium. He  was with the organization from 2016-2021.

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