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Capacity check-up: How climate-resilient is your healthcare facility?

Capacity check-up: How climate-resilient is your healthcare facility?

Climate change strikes at the core of health systems’ mission to protect and promote health. Individual hospitals and entire healthcare systems are already affected by the rising frequency of extreme weather events.   The healthcare sector must be prepared to foresee, respond to, and recover from these events while decarbonising its operations.  An integral part of this preparation is understanding its current resilience capacities – the ability of any hospital or healthcare facility to weather any storm it is likely to face. While many facilities have crisis response plans, climate resilience is made up of many dimensions. Assessing the resilience of healthcare facilities is crucial, as it allows hospitals to make necessary changes that help protect operational continuity. 

To answer this pressing need, the LIFE RESYSTAL project has supported seven hospitals and two health systems to conduct a rapid assessment of their resilience capacities, by designing an adaptive Capacity Assessment Matrix (or checklist). Developed by technical partner Actierra, the matrix enables hospitals to assess their readiness and take targeted action, preparing ahead of any climate-related extreme weather events.

Climate resilience capacity check-up 

Like an evaluation conducted by a physician to gauge a patient’s overall health,  LIFE RESYSTAL’s Capacity Assessment Matrix acts as a diagnostic tool, swiftly identifying the resilience capacity gaps to face climate hazards within a healthcare facility. The Matrix helps assess each hospital’s resilience across three dimensions:  infrastructure, governance and leadership, and crisis management. The assessment produces a ‘resilience profile’ for each hospital,  which provides a clear and current depiction of their ability to withstand climate-related weather events. Just as a patient leaves a physician appointment with more information on managing their health, hospitals can use the information from this diagnostic assessment to implement targeted interventions, as ‘treatments’, to fortify their overall climate resilience capacity.

Zooming in  

Seven pilot hospitals involved in the LIFE RESYSTAL project were the first to test the structured methodology of this approach. Actierra conducted interviews with relevant staff from each hospital’s community of practice to produce resilience profiles. Based on the assessment’s findings, each profile was followed by bespoke recommendations for steps each healthcare facility can take to enhance its resilience. 

Cristina Enjamio, former Director of Economic Resources of the Health Area of Ourense, Verín and o Barco de Valdeorras, Galician Health Service (SERGAS), shared some key takeaways for her hospitals from the Capacity Assessment process:  

“The Capacity Assessment process helped us become aware of the need to analyse our capacity to adapt and recognise our own difficulties. Although we have prepared emergency response plans for the infrastructure itself as well as the buildings’ healthcare activities, this exercise allowed us to more thoroughly evaluate the auxiliary services, the supply chain, and other external factors not previously considered.”

Proactive steps to protect public health

The LIFE RESYSTAL project aims to improve healthcare climate resilience across Europe, protecting patient care and community health. The Capacity Assessment Matrix is crucial for hospitals to identify strengths and weaknesses and take action to build healthcare climate resilience. This proactive approach enhances the overall efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery systems, by minimising the impact of unforeseen challenges on public health.

The Capacity Assessment Matrix methodology report is now available to help healthcare systems and facilities improve their climate resilience. Access the methodology now in the project’s Knowledge Hub

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