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Towards Tomorrow

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In response to the unprecedented environmental challenges threatening human health and the planet, Fraser Health unveiled its first Planetary Health Strategic Plan in the fall of 2023. The five-year plan recognizes the critical nature of the environmental crisis but also highlights the unique opportunities the health authority can seize through collaboration.

The development process for the strategic plan was collaborative in itself. A diverse group of leaders brought their insights and knowledge to the table, with over 77 staff contributing through workshops and interviews representing 36 departments or programs, including survey responses from Green+Leaders and through the Health Chat engagement portal. Jeevan Sangha was one of these people. Currently serving as a Senior Consultant on the Strategic Transformation and Project Delivery team, Jeevan supports efforts to enhance health care facilities’ ability to withstand and respond to environmental challenges.

Jeevan’s journey with health-care sustainability began in response to the alarming impact of climate change public health she was observing, particularly in 2021 when she heard stories from people impacted by BC’s extreme heat during that summer.

That’s when I dug into learning more about what it meant for a health-care system to be resilient in the face of changing climate patterns, sustainable infrastructure, energy-efficient systems and disaster preparedness,” Jeevan remembers.

This realization motivated her to join the Green+Leaders community, which gave her invaluable opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals..

These connections came in handy while contributing to Fraser Health’s Planetary Health Strategic Plan, which was developed over a 6-month time period. Providing project and change management support, she played a pivotal role in its development. “It was the first step towards a sustainable future and it was an honour to be a tiny part of it,” she says.

The strategy is largely the work of Fraser Health’s Planetary Health steering committee. The committee is co-chaired by Karen Reutlinger, Executive Director of Emergency Preparedness and Planetary Health and Robert Bradley, director of the Energy and Environmental Sustainability team (EES). Dr. Ingrid Tyler, Vice President of Population & Public Health and Chief Medical Health Officer, serves as the executive sponsor, while Darryl Quantz acts as Fraser Health’s Planetary Health Lead. From EES, key contributors include Craig Dedels, manager of Climate, Risk and Resilience and Sonja Janousek, manager of Environmental Sustainability.

Reflecting on the leadership of Karen and Darryl in moving this work forward, Jeevan commends their commitment, saying, “Karen and Darryl are so committed to this work and are absolute superstars at moving it forward.”

Fraser Health’s Planetary Health Strategic Plan embodies a forward-thinking approach to climate resilience in health care and social sustainability. According to Jeevan, facilitating actions that prioritize the well-being of future generations is a shared responsibility. The message behind Fraser Health’s planetary health work is clear: the responsibility to safeguard our planet rests on our united efforts. Today’s actions shape tomorrow’s outcomes.