Hiran Ratnayake
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ChristianaCare Joins White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge to Ensure Good Stewardship of the Environment

ChristianaCare builds on its existing commitment to improving climate protection and health equity

ChristianaCare will pursue bold targets for emissions reduction and climate resistance by pledging commitment to the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, recently shared by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services delegation to the United Nations Climate Conference (COP27).

Under this pledge, part of a nationwide effort led by the White House and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), ChristianaCare will take actions to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. ChristianaCare is one of 102 organizations that have signed the pledge.

This pledge builds on existing, long-standing work that ChristianaCare has taken to improve environmental health, which is available in its video to celebrate Earth Day 2022. ChristianaCare views environmental health and health equity as deeply intertwined. In the United States, underserved and impoverished communities, frequently Black, Latino or Native American, often live in the most environmentally precarious areas. They are much more likely to be subject to natural disasters like flooding, as well as poor water quality, poor air quality and pollution.

“At ChristianaCare, our commitment to serving our neighbors with excellence and love motivates us every day to do even more to improve the health of our community,” said Bettina Tweardy Riveros, J.D., chief health equity officer and senior vice president of Government Affairs and Community Engagement at ChristianaCare. “We have increasingly recognized the powerful link between health and the environment and, as the largest private employer in Delaware, we have an obligation to be environmentally responsible, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and be a leader in sustainability efforts.”

The health care industry overall is responsible for as much as 4.6% of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to studies by The Commonwealth Fund. Of that, hospital care contributes approximately 36%.

“Climate change is a health issue,” Riveros said. “Global warming not only impacts the health of people at the macro level, through droughts, flooding and increasingly powerful storms – it also impacts people at the individual level, as it increases or exacerbates conditions like asthma and respiratory illnesses.”

ChristianaCare has developed an organizational framework that embeds environmental and equity goals in every part of its work, including buying practices, facilities management, advocacy and investment, and even the ways it delivers care and connects with the surrounding community. This work goes hand-in-hand with ChristianaCare’s commitment to anti-racism and health equity and it allows for continued collaboration with other environmental stakeholders, including state and federal officials, community organizations and the business community.

“From a public health standpoint, the case for creating a healthy environment is clear,” said Rob McMurray, chief financial officer at ChristianaCare. “It also makes sense from a business standpoint. Strong environmental, social and governance standards push organizations to be more innovative, resilient and prosperous in the long term. They also foster a more engaged workforce.”

Many ChristianaCare caregivers have expressed their support of environmental stewardship, and the pledge is the latest action to harness their enthusiasm and empower them to make an impact. “We know this work is critical for our future, and it also allows us to tap into our greatest resource – our caregivers – to find even more ways to be good stewards of our environment,” McMurray said.

In addition to hospitals, stakeholders making the Health Sector Climate Pledge include health centers, suppliers, insurance companies, group purchasing organizations, pharmaceutical companies and more, according to the HHS announcement Federal agencies like the Indian Health Service, Veterans Health Administration and Military Health System are working together to meet goals similar to those the private sector organizations have embraced. Combined, this means that more than 1,080 federal and private sector hospitals have made such commitments, together representing over 15% of U.S. hospitals.


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About ChristianaCare

Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, ChristianaCare is one of the country’s most dynamic health care organizations, centered on improving health outcomes, making high-quality care more accessible and lowering health care costs. ChristianaCare includes an extensive network of primary care and outpatient services, home health care, urgent care centers, three hospitals (1,430 beds), a freestanding emergency department, a Level I trauma center and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, a comprehensive stroke center and regional centers of excellence in heart and vascular care, cancer care and women’s health. It also includes the pioneering Gene Editing Institute.

ChristianaCare is nationally recognized as a great place to work, rated by Forbes as the 2nd best health system for diversity and inclusion, and the 29th best health system to work for in the United States, and by IDG Computerworld as one of the nation’s Best Places to Work in IT. ChristianaCare is rated by Healthgrades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals and continually ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek and other national quality ratings. ChristianaCare is a nonprofit teaching health system with more than 260 residents and fellows. With its groundbreaking Center for Virtual Health and a focus on population health and value-based care, ChristianaCare is shaping the future of health care.