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Preparing For Climate Change: Virginia Mason Hosting Resilient Health-Care Workshop

Think globally; act locally. The old motto has new validity as the nation gets ready for the change of administration in the other Washington.

Regional leaders on climate change are forging ahead, despite President-elect Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris accord.

Among those in the local business community, Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center stands out. This week, it is hosting a workshop on climate-resilient health care in the Pacific Northwest.

Brenna Davis is the center’s sustainability director and also chairs a group called Washington Business for Climate Action. She says at Virginia Mason, they’re looking at how to adapt to things like more frequent major storms and wildfires and the spread of diseases linked to a warming climate, such asthe Zika virus.

“You know, hospitals are first responders. Hospitals need to be there for their communities when we experience these impacts," Davis said.  "And so, Virginia Mason is really working to push out building climate resilience on the West Coast for hospitals, so that we can protect our patients from the impacts of climate change.” 

She says they’ve worked through a tool-kit checklist provided by the Obama administration and found for example, they need to plan for more high-heat days. This means finding ways to keep the medical center cool while still conserving energy – as well as having capacity to treat more respiratory illness and heat-related ailments. At the workshop, healthcare providers from as far as Oregon and Canada will share ideas to develop best practices for the Northwest. 

The health care resilience workshop comes the day before a meeting of Washington state agencies on the same topicnear Olympia. 

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to