Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health

Improvement and Innovation Showcase - Series 13 - Environmental Sustainability in Healthcare

Date: to 26 June 2024


Where: Online event

Our Improve­ment and Inno­va­tion Show­case brings togeth­er teams from across the health sys­tem to con­nect, share and explore their expe­ri­ences of work­ing towards bet­ter health­care for all South Australians. 

As per the Strate­gic Direc­tion (20242027), we’ve recog­nised that reduc­ing the health system’s impact on cli­mate change and iden­ti­fy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to adapt to its impact is crit­i­cal to a sus­tain­able health sys­tem. The Showcase’s 13th Series aims to sup­port this and is themed as Envi­ron­men­tal Sus­tain­abil­i­ty in Health­care’. We are excit­ed to be col­lab­o­rat­ing with the SA Health Cli­mate Change Exec­u­tive Gov­er­nance Group to deliv­er this series in antic­i­pa­tion of the launch of the SA Health Cli­mate Change Framework! 

Episode 39: It’s Everyone’s Prob­lem! The Impact of Cli­mate Change in Healthcare 

The chang­ing cli­mate is an exis­ten­tial threat and described by the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al as a code red for human­i­ty’. Aus­tralia is one of the coun­tries on the front­lines of cli­mate-health impacts, includ­ing increas­ing in extreme weath­er events, changes in infec­tious dis­eases pat­terns, and food and water secu­ri­ty. These impacts will place unprece­dent­ed pres­sure on our health sys­tem and are exac­er­bat­ing exist­ing health inequities, with vul­ner­a­ble groups and rur­al com­mu­ni­ties most affect­ed. The health­care sec­tor alone is respon­si­ble for almost 5% of glob­al green­house gas emis­sions and if it were a coun­try, it would be the fifth largest pol­luter on Earth. Under a busi­ness as usu­al’ sce­nario, emis­sions from health­care could triple between now and 2050

Join Kim­ber­ly to hear why the respon­si­bil­i­ty to address the impact of cli­mate change in health­care rests not with just a few but every­one who works in it!

Speak­er Bio:

Dr Kim­ber­ly Humphrey (Pub­lic Health Med­ical Con­sul­tant and Cli­mate Change Lead, SA Depart­ment of Health and Well­be­ing)

Kim­ber­ly is an Emer­gency Med­i­cine Spe­cial­ist, Pub­lic Health med­ical con­sul­tant and Cli­mate Lead at SA Health in Ade­laide, Aus­tralia. She is the 2022 – 2023 Fel­low in Cli­mate Change and Human Health at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty. Kim­ber­ly is also a Board mem­ber for Doc­tors for the Envi­ron­ment Aus­tralia and past Deputy Chair, imme­di­ate past Deputy Chair of the Coun­cil of Advo­ca­cy, Prac­tice and Part­ner­ships at the Aus­tralasian Col­lege for Emer­gency Med­i­cine, Board mem­ber of the South Aus­tralian Board of the Med­ical Board of Aus­tralia and is a Clin­i­cal Senior Lec­tur­er at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ade­laide. Kim­ber­ly has spe­cif­ic exper­tise in research, pol­i­cy and advo­ca­cy at the inter­sec­tion of cli­mate change and health, emer­gency med­i­cine and pub­lic health, and dis­as­ter mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion. She is pas­sion­ate about dri­ving research in com­mu­ni­ty and health sys­tem adap­ta­tion to cli­mate change impacts; refram­ing our health sys­tems toward high qual­i­ty, low car­bon care; and assess­ing solu­tions to build resilience as a part of cli­mate change adap­ta­tion approach­es. Most­ly, she is focused on rethink­ing the sta­tus quo because it isn’t work­ing for all of our soci­ety, and look­ing towards green­er, health­i­er, hap­pi­er and more equi­table com­mu­ni­ties and cities. 

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Episode 40: High Val­ue Health­care is Low Car­bon Healthcare 

As we face the unprece­dent­ed chal­lenge of cli­mate change, it is wide­ly acknowl­edged that a sub­stan­tial pro­por­tion of health care is waste­ful and low val­ue. Low val­ue care remains stub­born­ly com­mon and may be increas­ing, includ­ing in low- and mid­dle-income coun­tries. Recent esti­mates show that about 30% of health care is waste­ful or low val­ue, and a fur­ther 10% is harm­ful. How does low val­ue care inter­sect with cli­mate risk in rela­tion to its car­bon footprint?

Join Kate to hear how we all have a role to play in lead­ing sus­tain­able mod­els of clin­i­cal care and explore why bet­ter val­ue, low car­bon emis­sions mod­els of clin­i­cal care are urgent­ly needed.

Speak­er Bio:

Dr Kate Charlesworth (Med­ical Direc­tor, Cli­mate Risk & Net Zero Unit, NSW Health) (MBBS(Hons), MPH, FAF­PHM, PhD) 

Dr Kate Charlesworth is a pub­lic health physi­cian in Syd­ney and leads the Cli­mate Risk & Net Zero Unit at NSW Health. Kate ini­tial­ly worked as a hos­pi­tal doc­tor in Perth and Syd­ney, before under­tak­ing much of her pub­lic health med­i­cine train­ing in the UK. In Eng­land, she worked in the Green­er NHS pro­gram, the lead­ing health­care decar­bon­i­sa­tion pro­gram in the world. Kate has worked in sus­tain­abil­i­ty roles across NSW Health since 2018 and also has a PhD in low-car­bon healthcare. 

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Episode 41: Waste Reduc­tion in Healthcare 

Decar­bon­is­ing the Aus­tralian health sys­tem health­care sec­tor is a col­lec­tive effort and encom­pass­es a range of areas. In this ses­sion we will be cov­er­ing waste reduc­tion and sus­tain­able design in healthcare.

The health sys­tem gen­er­ates mul­ti­ple waste streams, both non-haz­ardous (such as food, drink and used hand tow­els) and haz­ardous (includ­ing clin­i­cal waste – defined as waste con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed with bod­i­ly flu­ids, chem­i­cals or phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, such as dis­card­ed sharps, intra­venous flu­id and unused med­i­cines – and anatom­i­cal waste). The emis­sions foot­print of this waste depends on the type of waste and the method of dis­pos­al, which can include recy­cling, com­post, land­fill and incineration.

The built envi­ron­ment con­sists of all the human-made aspects of people’s sur­round­ings, includ­ing hos­pi­tals, facil­i­ties, roads and oth­er con­nect­ing tran­sit sys­tems. Build­ings con­tribute to cli­mate change through their con­struc­tion, main­te­nance and dai­ly oper­a­tion. This includes the mate­ri­als they use; their loca­tion; and elec­tric­i­ty, gas and water usage.

Join Sarah to hear about her work on reduc­ing the envi­ron­men­tal impacts of hos­pi­tal waste and Jack on envi­ron­men­tal­ly sus­tain­able design prin­ci­ples in the build­ing of SA’s new Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

Speak­er Bio:

Sarah Rip­ley (Sus­tain­able Health­care Man­ag­er Cli­mate and Health Alliance)

Sarah Rip­ley is a reg­is­tered nurse. With over 12 years of clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence, Sarah tran­si­tioned into the cru­cial work of decar­bon­is­ing health­care, empha­siz­ing a dual focus on both patient care and plan­e­tary health. Sarah was the first Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Offi­cer with­in the South Aus­tralian Health­care net­work. In this role, she spear­head­ed the devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of inno­v­a­tive sus­tain­abil­i­ty ini­tia­tives, set­ting a prece­dent for envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious health­care prac­tices. Cur­rent­ly serv­ing as the Sus­tain­able Health­care Man­ag­er for the Cli­mate and Health Alliance, her pri­ma­ry focus work revolves around sup­port­ing the health sec­tor to cut emis­sions, reduce its eco­log­i­cal foot­print and build cli­mate health resilience.

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Episode 42: Sus­tain­able Design in Healthcare 

The built envi­ron­ment con­sists of all the human-made aspects of people’s sur­round­ings, includ­ing hos­pi­tals, facil­i­ties, roads and oth­er con­nect­ing tran­sit sys­tems. Build­ings con­tribute to cli­mate change through their con­struc­tion, main­te­nance and dai­ly oper­a­tion. This includes the mate­ri­als they use; their loca­tion; and elec­tric­i­ty, gas and water usage. It is esti­mat­ed that cap­i­tal expen­di­ture for health care build­ings alone, includ­ing expen­di­ture on the build­ing of new hos­pi­tals and retro­fitting or upgrad­ing of estab­lished hos­pi­tals, rep­re­sents 8% of total Aus­tralia health care emis­sions. How­ev­er, this fig­ure only con­sid­ers emis­sions from phys­i­cal con­struc­tion and upgrades and not build­ing ener­gy use.

Join Jack to learn about health facil­i­ty life­cy­cle emis­sions and envi­ron­men­tal­ly sus­tain­able design prin­ci­ples from both a new build (i.e. SA’s new Women’s & Children’s Hos­pi­tal) and exist­ing facil­i­ty perspective. 

Speak­er Bio:

Jack Noo­nan (Port­fo­lio Man­ag­er, New Women’s and Children’s Hos­pi­tal Project) 

Jack Noo­nan is a Project Man­ag­er / Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer with over 10 years of expe­ri­ence with­in the Ade­laide Con­struc­tion Indus­try. Jack has spe­cialised in Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Con­sult­ing in pri­vate indus­try, with a focus on health­care projects, before tran­si­tion­ing to pub­lic sec­tor project man­age­ment. Jack has pre­vi­ous­ly led the Women’s and Children’s Health Net­work Engi­neer­ing Build­ing Ser­vices and Major Cap­i­tal Projects Teams, over­see­ing asset man­age­ment and project imple­men­ta­tion and devel­op­ment through­out WCHN’s 160+ build­ing assets with a key focus on sus­tain­ing the exist­ing Women’s and Children’s Hos­pi­tal. Jack is cur­rent­ly the Port­fo­lio Man­ag­er on the New Women’s and Children’s Hos­pi­tal (WCH) project, focussing on the design pro­gres­sion of the Hos­pi­tal and Leads the Project Team Envi­ron­men­tal­ly Sus­tain­able Design, hav­ing played a key role in pro­gress­ing the com­mit­ment to 100% elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the New WCH

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