Photo by: Matagorda Episcopal Health Outreach Program

Patient-Centered Climate Resilient Clinics

04/21/2021 | Harvard Chan C-CHANGE

Climate shocks, in the form of more intense heatwaves, wildfires, hurricanes and downpours, disrupt healthcare delivery through destroyed infrastructure, power outages, and interrupted supply chains. The primary response to these risks has been to strengthen buildings and install backup power generators and flood barriers. Fortifying facilities can promote resilience and maintain operations around extreme events, but it can miss one important part of delivering care: the people who need it.

When climate shocks occur, people whose health is most at risk may never make it to a healthcare facility or a big urban hospital where most investments have been made. An equitable, patient-centered approach to climate action enables health care to meet its climate change obligations and its responsibilities to deliver high-quality care for the betterment of all.

We are working with frontline health clinics that serve predominantly low-wealth people who often have limited access to care to safeguard health. When disasters strike, these clinics often serve as a safety net, stepping up to provide whatever is needed in their communities. Our program creates a pathway to reach frontline communities in the right way at the right time to do everything possible to prevent foreseeable harms from the climate crisis.

Climate Health Equity for Community Clinics Program

Working with providers and staff at over 100 frontline health clinics, our program with Americares will focus on patients and the clinics that serve them in communities where climate change disproportionately impacts the health of vulnerable communities. We are partnering with providers and staff to design tailored interventions that meet their needs and their patients’ needs given resource constraints and limited time, to promote health equity and keep people safe before disasters strike. Learn more.

Climate Resilience for Frontline Clinics

Using our groundbreaking survey with over 450 clinic staff from 47 U.S. states and territories, we are working with Americares to create tailored resources for healthcare providers, staff, and patients on extreme heat, wildfires, and hurricanes and are working with clinics in California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Texas to put these materials into practice. The project will expand across the U.S. to ensure that more clinics providing free or low-cost healthcare to uninsured or underinsured patients are ​​better equipped to manage care and protect patients from climate risks. Learn more.

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Headshot of Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Credit Michael Goderre/Boston Children’s Hospital

Aaron Bernstein MD, MPH

Aaron examines the human health effects of global environmental changes with the aim of promoting a deeper understanding of these subjects among students, educators, policy makers, and the public.

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Chelsea Heberlein

Chelsea Heberlein

Chelsea works with frontline health clinics, researchers, and collaborating organizations to put patients at the center of climate resilience.

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Anna Miller

Anna helps develop and execute communications plans to promote awareness about the health impacts of climate change on children.

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Liz Purchia

Liz manages communications planning and media relations for Harvard Chan C-CHANGE.

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