New Project to Help Community Health Clinics Address Climate Risks Launched by Biogen, Americares and Harvard Chan C-CHANGE
Across the United States, more than 2,800 community health clinics provide free and low-cost healthcare to more than 32 million people. Many of these patients have household incomes near or below the federal poverty level and are located in areas facing climate-related burdens, such as exposure to air pollution, dangerous heat waves, and extreme weather events. The climate crisis is increasingly viewed a global health crisis that disproportionately impacts low-income communities.
As part of Biogen’s Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives™ initiative, the biotechnology company has teamed up with Americares and the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE) to address the impact that climate change has on these safety net clinics.
In collaboration with nine pilot clinics and organizations in California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Texas, the program will marshal real-world insights and the best available science to create a Climate Resilient Health Clinics Toolkit. The goal is to strengthen the health care system by providing under-resourced clinics with the resources they need to better prepare for and respond to climate change.
“As part of our initiative to address the interrelated challenges of climate, health, and equity, we are delighted to support Harvard Chan C-CHANGE and Americares to strengthen healthcare system resiliency to help improve measurable outcomes for underserved and underrepresented patient populations,” said Maha Radhakrishnan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Biogen. “It is essential that we work to meet science-based targets that limit global warming to 1.5C, while also addressing the impacts that the climate crisis is having on human health. This pioneering initiative is aimed at protecting patients from the climate health effects happening now, with a focus on those most at risk.”
The new resource will guide clinics in creating contingency care strategies that consider access to power, medications, and patient records during extreme climate events, from wildfires in the west to winter storms in the south to hurricanes in the east. With this toolkit, healthcare providers will also be able to create plans that factor in common climate exposures, such as ensuring patients who lack air conditioning know where their nearest cooling center is, have transportation to get there, and know why and when they need to act.
Designed to bolster the efficiency of community health clinics, the toolkit has the potential to improve the health and continuity of care for millions of at-risk patients. This program aims to expand its reach from nine to 150 clinics over the next five years.