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 addtional services necessary for the adequate support of primary health services including enviromental health services, including – (1) the detection and alleviation of unhealthful conditions associate with (1) 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.

Power for Health

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 resilency at health centers and priotize high risk areas. Successes in Puerto Rico, California, and New Orleans give us hope and evidence moving forward.  

Extreme Heat

As part of the National Training and Technival 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 Enviroment and the Arsht-Rockerfeller Founation. Please stay tuned for more details.  

Food Security

NACHC is working to  address 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 developement for the White House’s Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

Climate for Health Ambassador Program

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 climte change with patients and communities and opportunities for action.

Training materials are expected to be adapted by March 2023. 

Contact

Contact Jessica Hinshaw, Program Manager of Environmental Health Initiatives at jhinshaw@nachc.org with any comments or inquiries.