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In a newly released book, Greening Health Care: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet, Kaiser Permanente’s environmental stewardship officer, Kathy Gerwig, explores a universal paradox of health care: As hospitals deliver life-saving care to individuals, their substantial environmental footprint can often be detrimental to environmental and community health.
Greening Health Care examines the intersection of health care and environmental health, analyzing failures and describing the revolution that is currently underway to fix them. 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 activities as a whole contribute 8 percent of the total greenhouse gas 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 industry standard for health care delivery, one that embraces environmental stewardship.
“Health care has a large environmental footprint, but it can also play a crucial role in addressing the major environmental challenges of our time,” Gerwig explained. “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.”
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