WH to healthcare providers: Prepare for climate impacts

The White House wants healthcare providers to get serious about bulking up their defenses against climate change.

In a best-practice guide for healthcare providers and policymakers released on Monday, the administration advises them on how to best improve their “climate readiness.”

The guide is one piece of a larger initiative at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  launched by President Obama last year, and provides information to healthcare facilities on how to prepare of extreme weather events the administration says is tied to climate change.

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The guidelines released by the White House on Monday include commitments from leading healthcare providers across the country to bulk up climate resilience at facilities and of operations.

“HHS recognizes climate change as one of the top public health challenges of our time,” the White House said.

“Climate change related health threats such as heat waves, droughts, and worsened air pollution are anticipated to put additional strain on our health care system through associated illnesses and exacerbation of chronic conditions like cardiovascular and respiratory diseases,” the fact sheet adds.

The administration adds that the healthcare sector accounts for 20 percent of the U.S. economy, making climate related impacts on it a “public health and an economic threat.”

The guide offers tips on how to develop and maintain data on climate hazards, understanding regulations, retrofitting infrastructure to make it more durable, prioritizing resilience measures, and strengthening natural buffers to floods, storms and other events.

On top of the best practice guide, HHS is working on providing a set of online tools for healthcare facilities to use.

Helping local and state communities better prepare for climate change has been a key piece of the president’s second-term agenda, but has come under heavy fire from Republicans.

A number of Obama’s climate change policies are on the GOP's hit list when the party takes the majority in the Senate next year.