Step 1: Take a fairly respectable study from the University of Chicago showing “Health care in America, including activities such as hospital care, scientific research and the production and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs, was found to produce 8 percent of the country’s total carbon dioxide output despite accounting for 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.”
Step 2: Ignore the study you have just read. Then, tell a lie: Write a story that says, “Climate change is a critical public health issue — one that hospitals need to do more to address. Every year, U.S. hospitals are emitting 8 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gases.”
Voila! Instead of a sector that is out-performing many others in ratio of emissions to gross value added, you have one that is scandalously putting us all in danger due to careless outgassing from the nurses stations across the country.
You can use it, as this story does, to call for a massive redirection of resources away from the trivial fripperies of saving lives and delivering babies to the much more important task of eliminating the deadly poison of CO2.
You can include a mind-numbingly stupid statement such as “I know firsthand how significant an undertaking these commitments can be, which is one reason why progress in adopting sustainable practices has been slow” and nobody will even notice! Is it really your knowledge that is slowing progress?
You can gloss over the obvious, even in your own story: “According to the 2015 Health Facilities Management (HFM) Sustainable Operations Survey, 61 percent named competing investments/spending priorities as the top challenge/barrier to realizing environmentally sustainable measures, followed by employee time limits (52 percent) and lack of adequate staff (50 percent).” They are hospitals. They get funding for research and healthcare. Not going green. If they are going to go green they will need outside sources of investment and people to implement them. Call us back when all that is in place. Operators are standing by.
You can write things that I strongly suspect are not true. “And increasingly, our patients are beginning to expect and demand that we make sustainability a priority.” Actually, as someone who has administered many, many patient satisfaction surveys in several different countries, I can tell you that the question has never been asked of patients to my knowledge. Hospitals that are smart enough to ask their patients how they are doing focus on their mission–keeping people alive and returning them to good health. (They don’t often ask about the quality of hospital food either.)
The author of this bizarre article is a certain Lloyd Dean, the President and CEO of Dignity Health. Dignity Health is a California-based not-for-profit public-benefit corporation that operates hospitals and ancillary care facilities in 17 states. As such, it is exempt from federal and state income taxes. Despite their non-profit status, they had a profit of $132 million in 2012 on revenues of over $10 billion.
In news that some might think is related, “San Francisco-based Dignity Health settled with the U.S. Department of Justice for $5.9 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations that they improperly billed Medicare for implantation of cardiac devices, Justice Department officials announced Wednesday.”
The extra money to go green has to come from somewhere.