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Charting the Path to Resilience

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96 BC health care facilities screened for exposure to climate hazards

Amidst soaring temperatures, rampant wildfires, and a surge in extreme weather events, British Columbia’s healthcare facilities stand at the frontline of an escalating crisis. Faced with this urgent reality, health authorities in BC have launched a bold initiative to confront the looming risks and challenges posed by a rapidly changing climate.

In 2023, Craig Dedels, Regional Manager of Climate Risk & Resilience for the Energy & Environmental Sustainability (EES) team, alongside engineering and design consultants at Introba, spearheaded the Portfolio-Level Climate Hazard Exposure Screen for Lower Mainland Health Facilities project. This ambitious endeavour involved conducting simultaneous climate hazard exposure screens for 96 hospitals, long-term care facilities, and clinics across Fraser Health, Providence Health Care, the Provincial Health Services Authority, and Vancouver Coastal Health. The analysis also identified sites with higher vulnerability, based on sensitivity to hazards and capacity to respond.

By bringing together the latest information on meteorological events like storms and heatwaves, climatological phenomena such as wildfires and water scarcity, as well as hydrological, geophysical, and biological hazards, the exposure screens provide a panoramic view of potential threats. Engagement with health-care staff, facilities maintenance personnel, and emergency management authorities helped to ensure that findings were grounded in local expertise and relevant to the unique challenges faced by different facilities.

Aligned with the BC Climate Resilience Framework & Standards for Public Sector Buildings, which requires organizations to integrate climate risks into their planning and design processes, this project represents a proactive response to the pressing need for climate resilience in health-care infrastructure. By leveraging the outcomes of the exposure screens, health-care organizations are not only equipped to meet regulatory requirements but also empowered to conduct more thorough climate risk assessments, prioritize adaptation efforts, and undertake future evaluations. Since release, the exposure screen project has also inspired similar projects at the other health authorities and been used in emergency response.

This project is just the beginning.

As we delved into the assessments, it became evident that we weren’t simply compiling a report; we were crafting an essential blueprint for action,” emphasizes Craig. Now, it falls upon collaborators across the health sector to leverage this information for a growing number of projects aimed at enhancing resilience.