Our June 18th meeting, which was a Zoom call, focused on the effects of the environment and climate change on health. Changes in the environment affect the social and environmental determinants of health. These include clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. Changes in the environment and climate are compromising the air we breathe and the food we eat in addition to threatening a new pandemic era, where a warming world is also expanding the range of deadly diseases. This does not bode well for the future of healthy people and poses an even greater concern for patients in hospitals or under medical care. Yet we are not yet really including environmental change in our discussion of social determinants of health. In the future, we cannot afford not to. Our speakers included:
- Chip Goyette, Director of Sustainability at Inova Health System. Chip oversees the system-wide implementation of a comprehensive set of sustainable practices at hospitals and healthcare facilities across Northern Virginia. He and his team are committed to executing a multi-faceted, enterprise program so that patients and team members alike can benefit from having a healthier experience at each and every Inova facility. Chip believes that sustainability is not just a driver for healthy living but also a strategic imperative for organizations as they compete to recruit and retain the workforce of today. He is a member of the Health Care Climate Council, a leadership body of health systems committed to protecting their patients and employees from the health impacts of climate change and becoming anchors for resilient communities.
- Brad Hurley, Senior Communications Consultant ICF, has more than 30 years of experience as a science writer and technical editor on climate change and other global environmental challenges. He has written or contributed to reports, journal articles, and website content on climate change and public health, including a state-of-the science paper on the risks posed by climate change to older Americans, a report for the U.S. EPA on mapping vulnerable populations, and a variety of heat-health materials for EPA’s Heat Island Effect website. He has served as managing editor and website manager for EPA’s America’s Children and the Environment indicators project for more than 20 years. A former science journalist and environmental educator, he specializes in translating complex scientific information for non-technical audiences.
- Mona Sarfaty, MD MPH FAAFP, is the Director of the Program on Climate and Health within the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University and she is also the Director and Founder of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.
Dr. Sarfaty trained in family medicine and public health and has engaged in teaching, research, and advocacy for 40 years. She received her MD from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, her MPH from George Washington University, and her BA from Harvard University. As the Founder of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, she advances the issue of climate change and health by bringing together associations representing over 600,000 clinical practitioners to carry three simple messages:
o Climate change is harming Americans today and these harms will increase unless we act;
o The way to slow or stop these harms is to decrease the use of fossil fuels and increase energy efficiency and use of clean energy sources; and
o These changes in energy choices will improve the quality of our air and water and bring immediate health benefits.
A recording of the meeting can be found here: