Contact: Brittany McCraw
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2022
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Cherokee Health Systems (CHS) joined the Biden Administration for a White House event on June 30, 2022, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where CEO Parinda Khatri, PhD and industry colleagues pledged meaningful action to decarbonize the health care sector and make health care facilities more resilient to the effects of climate change.
Cherokee Health Systems has committed to meet the Biden administration’s climate goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and is already taking steps to reduce its climate impacts. The White House event will offer a sector-wide display of cooperation between Cherokee Health Systems, its private sector peers, and federal health systems.
Cherokee Health Systems recognizes that climate change and the reduction of carbon-intensive practices must be addressed as part of comprehensive efforts to protect human health, well-being and equity. CHS has reduced carbon emissions with its support of a hybrid work-from-home model, especially for clinicians who live at some distance from their primary clinical location. CHS stopped the practice of mailing registration packets to all new patients, which has reduced paper use and waste. Most CHS clinics also have a system in place to recycle plastic, aluminum, tin, and cardboard, and CHS considers carbon-reduction and energy efficiency during all new construction and remodeling projects as well as purchases of day-to-day operating supplies.
Dr. Khatri stated, “As a community health center, we see first-hand the disproportionate impact of climate change on populations who are under-resourced and historically marginalized. Addressing climate change is important in our mission to improve the health and well-being of people we serve. For Cherokee Health Systems, joining this pledge acknowledges our commitment to health equity and good stewardship of our precious resources.”
In September 2021, 200 medical journals named climate change the number one threat to global public health. Millions of people living in the United States already experience associated harm —with disproportionate impacts on disadvantaged and underserved communities—through more frequent and intense periods of extreme heat, wildfires, flooding, vector-borne diseases and other factors that worsen chronic health conditions.
The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), part of HHS under the Assistant Secretary for Health, developed the health sector climate pledge in conjunction with the White House to help focus industry response to climate change. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint, signatories also commit to producing detailed plans to build climate resilience for their facilities and the communities they serve.
The June 30, 2022 White House event included leaders from companies and organizations representing hundreds of hospitals and numerous health centers, as well as pharmaceutical companies, medical device-makers, suppliers and group purchasing organizations. The health care sector accounts for approximately 8.5 percent of U.S. domestic climate-warming emissions.
“Public health decisions have to be based on the realities of climate change, and we all need to do more to make that happen at the national level,” said ADM Rachel Levine, the Assistant Secretary for Health. “We’re seeing right now what extreme temperatures and more severe storms can do to human health, environmental quality and our physical infrastructure. It’s great to see so many different companies and organizations come together to decarbonize and become partners in protecting human health from climate change. Today’s announcement is just the beginning of a longer ongoing effort with partners from across the medical sector, which is exactly the kind of big response we need as a country.”
For more information about how Cherokee Health Systems is responding to our nation’s climate challenges, visit Climate Network Organizations - National Academy of Medicine (nam.edu).
About Cherokee Health Systems
Cherokee Health Systems (CHS), is a large, non-profit comprehensive community healthcare organization that is both a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and licensed Community Mental Health Center with more than 40 clinics in 13 counties in Tennessee. Since its establishment, CHS has focused on the provision of care to medically vulnerable and underserved populations. Over time, CHS’ service area has expanded in east Tennessee and reached southward to Chattanooga (2014) and westward to Memphis (2016) in order to address unmet healthcare needs in high demand areas. CHS’ mission is “To enhance the quality of life of area residents through a comprehensive service delivery system that promotes mind and body wellness.” CHS recognizes that climate change and the reduction of carbon-intensive practices must be addressed as part of comprehensive efforts to protect human health, well-being and equity. CHS is committed to building a more climate resilient infrastructure.
About the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity
The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) plays a vital role in protecting the nation’s health from climate change-related risks, including extreme heat, natural disasters, vector-borne diseases and more. OCCHE is looking forward to providing technical supports to companies that wish to reduce their environmental impact and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change, setting national health goals and objectives and supporting programs, services, and education activities that improve the health of all Americans. OCCHE is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To learn more about OCCHE visit https://www.hhs.gov/ash/ocche/index.html.