This opinion piece appeared in The news newspaper Earth Day, April 22, 2022. It is compiled by ChristianaCare’s Rob McMurray, Chief Financial Officer, and Bettina Tweardy Riveros, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs and Community Engagement, and Director of Health Equity.

Rob McMurray, MBA, CPA

Global environmental challenges can often seem abstract and distant, but to our neighbors in Wilmington’s Riverside and 11and Street Bridge neighborhoods last September, the floodwaters that poured into their homes and displaced more than 200 people were very close and very real.

These neighborhoods are not alone. Across the country, underserved and impoverished communities, often black, Latino or Native American, often live in the most environmentally insecure regions. They are much more likely to be exposed to natural disasters such as floods, as well as poor water quality, poor air quality and toxic pollution.

The health and life expectancy of their residents suffer. It is a fact that there is a strong link between your ZIP code and your overall health. Wilmington residents located a few miles apart in different census tracts have a difference in life expectancy of 13 years associated with where they live.

Bettina Tweardy Riveros

These issues are not new, but the past two years of the pandemic have brought into even sharper focus the inequality we inherited as a society. For example, a Harvard study in 2020 demonstrated that air pollution was linked to higher death rates from COVID-19 – likely one of the many reasons the pandemic has disproportionately harmed Black and Latino communities.

At ChristianaCare, we are committed to health. In recent years, we have increasingly recognized the powerful link between health and the environment.

We are taking action and looking for partners to join us.

As Delaware’s largest private employer with more than 13,000 caregivers, we have an obligation to be environmentally responsible, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and be a leader in sustainable development efforts.

It’s not just talking. Over the past year, we have engaged in significant strategic planning to develop an environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) framework that will determine our environmental impact. This work goes hand in hand with our commitment to Against racism and health equity.

We are developing an organizational framework that integrates environmental and equity goals into every part of our business, including our purchasing practices, facilities management, advocacy and investments, and even how we provide care and we connect with our surrounding community. We are currently working to identify standards and measures for environmental performance reporting and to develop a governance model that ensures health equity and environmental stewardship.

From a public health perspective, the case for creating a healthy environment is clear. It also makes sense from a business perspective. Strong ESG standards drive organizations to be more innovative, resilient and successful over the long term. They also foster a more engaged workforce.

At ChristianaCare, we are committed to health. In recent years, we have increasingly recognized the powerful link between health and the environment.

At ChristianaCare, serving our neighbors with excellence and love is what drives us every day and makes us feel good about what we do. For many of our caregivers, this passion and enthusiasm for making the world a better place includes their commitment to environmental issues and social justice. They’re eager to do more, and we’re building a framework that will harness their energy and help them make an impact.

As we strive to be more environmentally conscious, healthcare systems like ours must realize that we too are part of the problem. The healthcare sector is responsible for about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, with hospitals accounting for more than a third of those emissions, according to a study. By reducing our own carbon footprint, we can lead the charge toward a more sustainable and equitable Delaware through how we source our products, reduce our waste, and use energy in our buildings.

the Lancet The Commission has called climate change both the “greatest global health threat” and the “greatest global health opportunity” of the 21st century. Air pollution, which already costs the United States more than $6 billion in healthcare costs a year, should cause up to 4,300 more premature deaths by 2050 – in just 28 years, unless we change course.

We don’t have to lose those lives or accept those costs. These are solvable problems.

We can lead the charge toward a more sustainable and equitable Delaware through how we source our products, reduce our waste, and use energy in our buildings.

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is “Investing in our Planet”. Investing starts with a plan, and it’s designed to produce results. At ChristianaCare, we develop environmental standards that will help us meet the health needs of our community, create jobs, and strengthen our regional economy while reducing health care costs and promoting health equity.

It’s not about the journey, it’s about the destination. We aim to make an impact and are committed to not only holding ourselves accountable, but also reporting on our progress along the way.


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