Environmental Health and Climate Change
Why Environmental Health and Climate Change Are Important Issues for Community Health Centers
Environmental health and climate change are important social drivers of health. Our environment encompasses where we live, work, learn, and play. It is the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food that we eat. Environmental issues like pollution, wildfires, extreme heat, flooding, and storms can cause adverse health outcomes that impact some communities more than others, an important issue of health equity. Community health centers are uniquely poised and have various opportunities to address environmental and climate health in their local areas.
Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. § 254b) subsection (b)(2) authorizes health centers to provide additional services necessary for the adequate support of primary health services including environmental health services, including the detection and alleviation of unhealthful conditions associate with (I)water supply; (II) chemical and pesticide exposures; (III) air quality.
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NACHC Environmental Health and Climate Change Initiatives
To support Community Health Centers in addressing environmental health and climate change issues, NACHC facilitates discussion, learning, and resource sharing. Below we touch on a few key on-going initiatives.
Climate for Health Ambassador
NACHC is excited to announce that we have partnered with ecoAmerica to bring their Climate for Health Ambassador program to community health centers. The Climate for Health Ambassador Program consists of a free, 4-hour interactive training that emphasizes the links between climate and health, how to speak effectively about climate change with patients and communities, and opportunities for action. We are including a number of helpful resources from ecoAmerica below.
Resource #1: Moving Forward: A Guide for Health Professionals to Build Momentum on Climate Action
Find out how to build momentum on climate action with this Moving Forward Guide, which provides you with guidance and tools to reduce energy use, build resilient clinics, and advocate for climate solutions that prioritize health and equity.
Resource #2: Customized NACHC Climate Ambassador Training
Receive continuing education (CE) credits and get trained on climate and health at the same time. With this four-hour training, which you can do online and on your own time, you will strengthen your knowledge about climate change, working for climate solutions, and how to speak and advocate on the issue with confidence and success. The training is FREE and comes with resources and other support. NACHC and ecoAmerica are working to create a tailored training to health centers to be available in early 2023. If you would like to wait for the tailored training, please fill out this form and we will get back to you. If would like to take the general Climate for Health Ambassador training, please see the information below.
Resource #3: Climate Action Sheets: What to Know & What to Do
You can care for your health and our climate at the same time! Use these straightforward, free, two-page guides that tell you what you need to know and what you need to do about climate change in all aspects of your life. Download and share widely!
Links to Climate Action Sheets:
Resource #4: Mental Health and Our Changing Climate Report
This report shares the latest and best knowledge on the many ways that climate change impacts mental health individually and community-wide, how structural inequities cause certain populations to be impacted first and worst, and the spectrum of solutions available to build resilience, strengthen care, and inspire engagement for transformative progress. It is intended to further inform and empower health and medical professionals, community and elected leaders, and the public to understand and act on solutions to climate change that will support mental health and well-being.
Resource #5: Let’s Talk Health & Climate: Communication Guidance for Health Professionals
The health and medical community is uniquely positioned to advance the message that climate solutions are a health priority and will provide enormous health benefits. This guide combines values, communications (how to talk), and messaging (specific talking points) in a single resource.
NACHC has partnered with Direct Relief in the Power for Health Initiative to install solar panels and back-up battery systems at community health centers. We are excited to continue to support resiliency at health centers and prioritize high risk areas. Successes in Puerto Rico, California, and New Orleans give us hope and evidence moving forward.
We are also working with Collective Energy and Capital Link to establish the Community Health Access to Resilient Green Energy (CHARGE) partnership. CHARGE will act as a one-stop shop for FQHCs to design, install, and finance solar microgrid and back-up battery system options.
As part of the National Training and Technical Assistance Partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration, NACHC will launch an Extreme Heat Learning Collaborative with Harvard’s Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment and the Arsht-Rockerfeller Foundation to be hosted from March to May 2023. Sign-up here.
NACHC is working to address food insecurity through a collaboration with the Cardinal Health Foundation. We support community health centers in building partnership with food banks, leading to improved access to healthier food choices and management of chronic diseases.
We are also supporting strategy developmentfor the White House’s Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.
Contact Jessica Hinshaw, Program Manager of Environmental Health Initiatives at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or inquiries.