Hospitals across the Interior Health region are integrating sustainability champion roles in efforts to reduce climate change impacts.
At Kootenay Lake Hospital (KLH), registered nurses Jessica Mackintosh, Rosie Sheppard and Catherine Triggs are assuming the roles of sustainability champions and will undertake environmental sustainability projects in the Nelson area.
As part of their new positions, Mackintosh and Sheppard will be contributing to KLH’s Facility Engagement Engaging in Climate Change Action Group, a group of KLH physicians who are working to educate the public about the health effects of climate change. Over the past year, the group released several articles to raise awareness in our community about issues such as the environmental impacts of metered-dose inhalers as well as the health effects of the heat dome and wildfire smoke.
Addressing issues related to the heat dome and wildfire smoke remains at the forefront of the group’s objectives. As wildfire smoke continues to grow in severity in our area, so does the potential for health-related issues, and this is one of the reasons why Mackintosh wanted to take action on climate change and pursue the position of sustainability champion at KLH.
“The impact of long, smoky summer seasons on mental and physical health cannot be denied,” commented Mackintosh. “Although everyone is affected during these times, it’s often our most vulnerable citizens who are at greater risk of health complications. As a nurse who works in chronic disease, it’s concerning to hear about how my patients are negatively affected by rising temperatures and wildfire smoke.”
Mackintosh and the working group encourage the public to act on climate change by learning more about its contributing factors. By identifying the root causes of the climate crisis, the group hopes that the public will become more aware about the most effective ways to reduce our climate impact.
“The majority of Canadians understand that we are facing a climate crisis, and this is excellent news,” said Mackintosh. “However, statistics indicate that less than half of our population realizes that climate change and our reliance on fossil fuels is mostly responsible for the extreme temperatures and increased severity of wildfires we experience.”
According to the Government of Canada, Canada’s overall emissions growth between 1990 and 2021 was driven primarily by emissions created from the oil and gas as well as the transport sectors, which are the catalysts for greenhouse gasses, higher temperatures, and the increasing prevalence of wildfires.
“Fortunately, there are steps that we can take to reduce our carbon footprint and champion for a healthier planet – it’s just a matter of knowing what these steps are and making a commitment towards greener practices,” Mackintosh explained.
For more information about how you can make a difference, Mackintosh recommends visiting climateaction.ca, or to learn more about the latest climate change research, visit the Canadian Climate Institute at climateinstitute.ca.