ThedaCare Event Focuses on Sustainability

Program Focused on Educating Nursing Staff on Climate Change, Health Links

Healthcare and climate change aren’t usually mentioned in the same sentence, but an upcoming internal event at ThedaCare is looking to change that. Paul Linzmeyer, sustainability leader for ThedaCare, said the internal program “Climate Change, Health and You: How We Can Be a Part of the Solution” is designed to begin a discussion on the role that changing weather patterns have on overall health. For example, recent droughts in California may drive up the price of produce, which may make eating healthy too expensive for some people, he said.

“ThedaCare recognizes that healthcare needs to play a more active role in the whole sustainability movement,” Linzmeyer said. “Climate change and fossil fuel use are going to affect people’s health in a number of ways, so we all need to focus on ways to that improve our resilience and prevention. This workshop helps us understand that to make a significant impact, every employee needs to adapt a culture of sustainability.”

The company event will be held for ThedaCare nursing staff from 9 a.m. to noon on Thurs., Feb. 27, at Appleton Medical Center. It is not open to the public. The event will also be available in the future via webcast.

Linzmeyer said he’s targeting nurses with this program because of the caregiving role they play. “They are all about caring for about people’s health and we need to connect with them and show them what sustainability can mean to their work and how they can spread the word,” he said. “Nurses are a constant you can count on.”

The conference keynote speaker is Gary Cohen, president and co-founder of Health Care Without Harm, who will talk about the role of sustainability in health care and what nurses can do to promote sustainability. In addition to Cohen, ThedaCare employees will discuss sustainability initiatives they have worked on and the role sustainability plays in their daily lives.

ThedaCare nurse Sara Bell became interested in sustainability after seeing how climate change affected her family’s access to fresh and affordable produce. “As a nurse, I understand how nutrition is tied to overall health and, as I began to learn more, I became acutely aware of how so much of our well-being is affected by the environment,” she said. “I feel the best thing I can do to improve the health of the community is to become part of the solution and one way to do that is through education. This conference gives us a great platform to raise awareness of the issues we face but also to brainstorm ideas for how to begin – today – to make meaningful changes.”