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SEATTLE – (Dec. 15, 2014) – A Virginia Mason representative will participate in a roundtable discussion today at The White House in Washington. D.C, exploring ways U.S. hospitals and health systems can prepare for the effects of global climate changes.

At the meeting, Brenna Davis, director of Sustainability at Virginia Mason, will join officials from about a dozen other health care organizations considered innovators for making environmental safeguards and climate-readiness a priority.

“Our organization is honored to take part in this conversation about one of the most important issues of our time,” Davis said.

The roundtable discussion at the White House, hosted by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burrell, will be underway from 10 until 11 a.m. Pacific time.

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created the Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities Initiative to develop tools and information to help health care facilities prepare for the impacts of climate change and increase their resilience. Today, as part of this initiative, the Administration released a best practices guide for health care providers, design professionals, policymakers and others to promote continuity of care before, during and after extreme weather events.

The National Climate Assessment, made public in May 2014, confirms that changes in climate threaten human health and well-being in many ways, including through impacts from extreme weather events, wildfire and decreased air quality; that some of these health impacts are already underway in the United States; and that climate change will amplify some existing health threats the nation now faces. 

For example, warmer temperatures spurred by carbon pollution can worsen asthma, which already impacts more than 9 percent of children in the U.S. and is the third leading cause of hospitalizations for children. And severe weather events – some of which are expected to grow more frequent and severe as a result of climate change – highlight vulnerabilities in the health care system that can lead to human suffering and economic losses.

“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to slow the effects of global warming, protect our planet’s future and safeguard the health of our communities,” Davis said. “There are significant opportunities for hospitals and health systems to make a lasting difference for current and future generations.”

In 2013, Virginia Mason earned an Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star rating, created the Pacific Northwest Health Care Sustainability Leadership Roundtable, and was named one of the 50 Greenest hospitals in the U.S. by Becker’s Hospital Review. In 2014, Virginia Mason led the creation of the Washington State Businesses for Climate Action Group, which lends a progressive business voice to the climate dialogue. In 2015, Virginia Mason will assess its climate resiliency vulnerability using the HHS best practices document, Primary Protection: Enhancing Healthcare Resilience for a Changing Climate, as a foundation.

About Virginia Mason
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs 6,000 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 460 physicians; regional medical centers throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste, lower cost, and improve quality and patient safety. Virginia Mason website: www.VirginiaMason.org

To learn more about Virginia Mason, please visit Facebook.com/VMcares or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter. To learn how Virginia Mason is transforming health care and to join the conversation, visit our blog at VirginiaMasonBlog.org.

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Virginia Mason Media Relations
(206) 341-1509
gale.robinette@vmmc.org

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