> Preparing Health Care Facilities in Canada for Climate Change

Health care facilities in Canada are vulnerable to climate change. Climate-related hazards are expected to create risks that can disrupt health care facility services and delivery.

Extreme weather events (e.g. storms, floods, wildfires, extreme temperature events) can create emergencies by damaging infrastructure, compromising access to critical resources (e.g. food and water) and safety of patients, visitors and staff. Climate change increases risks of some infectious diseases (vector-, water- and food-borne, new and emerging) and worsens air quality. Climate-related hazards can have significant implications for demand on health care facility services.

The World Health Organization has called on the health care sector to prepare for climate change impacts through efforts to increase resiliency. Health care organisations in Canada can increase resiliency by continually mainstreaming climate change into risk assessments, considering climate change when developing plans and activities and engaging in broader community discussions and initiatives around climate-related issues.

For example, health care and public health professionals and staff, can prepare for climate change by assessing risks from extreme weather events, readiness to manage climate-related infectious disease outbreaks or atypical cases and increasing understanding of how gradual shifts in weather can affect risk profile. Health care facilities can reduce risks of climate change through proper management of critical resources (e.g. pharmaceuticals, food, transportation, medical supplies and equipment) based on climate change considerations.

A resilient health care facility is also one that commits to sustainable practices, such as water and energy conservation, promoting active transportation, and local food procurement. In investing in resiliency activities in these areas, health care facilities can reduce operating costs and increase resilience in the community.

> About the Project

Summary:

The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care has co-developed a Health Care Facility Climate Change Resiliency Toolkit to help health care facilities become more resilient to climate-related risks.

Results:

The Health Care Facility Climate Change Resiliency Toolkit includes three components:

  • The Facilitators Guide, which introduces the toolkit and guides the users through a suggested approach,
  • The Assessment Checklist, which facilities can use to assess their resiliency, and
  • The Resource Guide for additional informational resources.

The checklist includes questions in many areas, such as: emergency management, facilities management, health care services and supply chain management. Completion of the assessment checklist by officials with knowledge and experience in these areas will increase awareness and inform resiliency activities to reduce climate change risks. The checklist has been tested in six pilot facilities in Canada and has been informed by a panel of expert reviewers.

A workshop in Bedford, Nova Scotia on March 20th, 2013 was held to finalise the toolkit and obtain feedback from project pilot participants and stakeholders.

Support:

This project was funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment, through the Climate Change Adaptation Fund.


Source: Health Canada
 

This website was developed by the Coalition with funding support from the Climate Change Unit, NS Environment.