In 2021, more than 200 medical journals named climate change as the number one threat to global public health—a consensus especially critical for the healthcare sector, which accounts for about 8.5 percent of domestic emissions in the US. For years, SSM Health has stood out as an environmental sustainability leader that not only understands the role it plays in fighting climate change but also has committed to taking actionable steps toward decarbonization.
Here are three steps SSM Health has taken to prioritize sustainability in its industry and be climate-friendly.
1. Committing to the Biden administration’s health sector climate pledge
In 2022, SSM Health announced that it would join over 100 health companies in the US and formally commit to pursuing the Biden administration’s climate goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Pledge signatories like SSM also committed to producing detailed plans to prepare their facilities for both chronic and acute climate impacts.
In a news release, SSM Health CEO and President Laura S. Kaiser said joining the initiative went hand in hand with the health system’s mission and vision.
“As healthcare leaders, we know the health of individuals depends on the health of our communities, the health of the nation, and the health of the planet—so we are pleased to join this important initiative,” Kaiser said in the press release. “Every person deserves the opportunity to live in a healthy environment with access to clean water, nutritious foods, and green spaces to play and work. It is time for all of us to collaborate and invite others to join in this effort to ensure a healthy world for future generations.”
So far, sustainability efforts include things like reducing energy consumption and medical waste. Leaders like Shelly Vincent-Masek, the organization’s regional director of planning, design, and construction in St. Louis, focus their efforts on incorporating green building practices in their projects and planting trees to reverse urban deforestation.
In its 2022 Year in Review report, SSM Health said it diverted 135.6 tons of water from landfills, collected and recycled 76.5 tons of electronic waste, and reprocessed 32.2 tons of single-use medical devices.
2. Serving as a member of the National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative
The National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative strengthens environmental sustainability practices by providing a platform for leaders to align on collective goals, actions, and solutions. SSM Health is part of the National Academy of Medicine’s Grand Challenge on Climate Change, Human Health, and Equity, a multiyear global initiative to improve and protect human health, well-being, and equity.
Since the initiative launched in 2020, members have focused on communicating the climate crisis as a public health and equity crisis, developed comprehensive road maps for transforming the healthcare system, prioritized their efforts around reducing carbon footprint in key areas, and accelerating research and innovation through a host of activities.
3. Creating an impact investment strategy
Another key area SSM Health has focused on to make an impact on climate change has been with its investment strategy. In 2016, it joined other Catholic institutions and communities in a commitment to ensure its investments were good for the Earth by moving away from dependency on fossil fuels. As a result, SSM Health’s Portfolio Management Company (PMC) fully divested all its investments in coal production companies or top users of coal.
Its strategy also aims to be proactive in pursuing climate-friendly investments and dedicating a subset of its portfolio to investments in companies, organizations, and funds that generate a measurable beneficial social or environmental impact. In 2018, the health system said it invested in New Energy Capital and Partners Group Infrastructure and was evaluating Angeleno Global Equities.
As Christner Architects marks 60 years in the industry, it is humbling to reflect on the legacy of projects that we have completed in collaboration with SSM Health. Its team is devoted to stewardship of its resources to further its mission, and we are proud to contribute toward that success. We are excited for the fresh perspective that Shelly Vincent-Masek brings to the organization and look forward to continuing our partnership under her thoughtful leadership.
Founded in 1952, Kaiser Electric offers a full range of electrical contracting and engineering services. We are proud of our long-standing partnership with SSM Health and we look forward to our continued relationship with the SSM Health organization under Shelly Vincent-Masek’s leadership. At Kaiser, we share in Shelly’s vision to make SSM Health’s facilities stand out by providing cutting-edge design with the goal of improving the overall patient experience.
Learn more about Kaiser at kaiserelectric.com.