(Delivering community benefit: Climate and health) Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health: clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. Doctors are increasingly treating patients with climate-related illnesses, and more than 70 percent recognize that climate is affecting their patients. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) predicts these changes will exacerbate some of our most pressing community health risks: obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular risks, asthma, access to care, and mental health concerns. Children, elderly, and those with inadequate access to health care are most vulnerable.
Many hospitals miss opportunities to enhance community resiliency and community health when they fail to consider the health consequences of a changing climate. Unlike other health concerns, climate-related risks do not have a disease code, which makes it difficult to categorize impact.