New toolkit to help clinics care for patients during climate shocks

December 7, 2022 – A toolkit developed by the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE) and Americares aims to protect people on the front lines of climate change.

The Climate Resilience for Frontline Clinics toolkit offers a host of resources for community health centers and free clinics across the U.S., including clinical guidance, how to develop action plans and alert systems, tip sheets for patients, checklists for clinic staff, and materials to protect patients with certain health conditions from extreme heat.

The Boston Globe hosted a virtual launch event for the toolkit on December 6 that featured frontline health leaders discussing how the toolkit’s resources can help keep their patients healthy in the face of extreme heat, wildfires, hurricanes, and floods. The event was moderated by Aaron Bernstein, C-CHANGE interim director.

The toolkit project, a three-year effort supported by Biogen, began with a survey of clinic staff from across the U.S. to identify challenges in caring for patients during and after climate shocks. Data from the survey showed that a majority of clinics experienced some kind of extreme-weather disruption over the past three years, that fewer than 20% of clinic staff think their clinic is “very resilient” in the face of extreme weather, and that a majority of staff would like more education and training to protect their patients from climate-related events.

C-CHANGE and Americares are working with clinicians and staff across the country to ensure that people with chronic medical conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes continue to receive care, even if an event such as a heat wave or a storm makes a clinic hard to reach. The collaborators also plan to adapt the toolkit for use in at least three low- and middle-income countries over the next five years.

Read an Axios article: When health inequities and climate disasters collide

Read a C-CHANGE release about the toolkit: Climate Resilience for Frontline Clinics

Read more about C-CHANGE’s effort to boost climate resilience at clinics: Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Launches Project to Increase Climate Resilience at Community Health Clinics in Four States

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