In their recent publication, McMaster University researchers Myles Sergeant and Ana Hategan provide practical, actionable steps to promote and implement a culture of sustainability and climate action in healthcare.

Hategan is a clinical professor of psychiatry and Sergeant is the postgraduate medical education lead for sustainable healthcare at McMaster. They are both part of PEACH (Partnerships for Environmental Action by Clinicians and Communities for Healthcare Facilities) Health Ontario, a network of clinicians and administrators working together to make the healthcare system more environmentally sustainable. Their latest recommendations are featured in an article in SAGE journals.

Their article suggests interventions and immediate high impact actions including looking at appropriate prescribing, tests and procedures, as well as supply chains and green energy opportunities.

Hategan and Sergeant’s study outlines seven strategic actions for leaders to promote a culture of sustainability and climate action in healthcare:

1. Choose items that have cost savings, such as appropriate prescribing of medications, hiring an energy manager and re-investing climate-related savings towards more costly items.

2. Change equipment procurement contracts to include weighting for sustainability.

3. Invest in tools, technologies and funds that consider environmental, social, and governance factors.

4. Build a diverse leadership team to promote engagement. Climate inaction can demoralize staff, potentially leading to decreased productivity and poorer employee performance.

5. Foster a culture of sustainability by making it an item on every agenda, promoting green teams and encouraging education about sustainability. Link environmental initiatives to employee wellness.

6. Foster partnerships in integrated healthcare systems between hospitals/healthcare settings and community practices as it relates to sustainable procurement.

7. Actively communicate with the community about why a net-zero carbon target is important for everyone. Be a leader on environmental sustainability.

PEACH guidebooks and further resources can be found here.

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