President's Perspective

The Nexus of Community Health And Wealth

Posted | by Denise Fairchild
Denise Fairchild

Community Institutions – our schools, universities, libraries, churches, and health institutions – have always anchored our communities with essential services. We turn to them to nourish and shelter our minds, our bodies and our spirits. And increasingly, given dwindling corporate responsibility, we rely upon them to drive the local economy. The real estate, financial and human capital that they bring into a community is substantial. ECC’s efforts to partner with these “anchor institutions” is taking root throughout our local markets. Our directors, for example, are working with community colleges, churches and affordable housing developers. The logic and apparent success of these efforts are grounded in our like-minded and complementary missions. Anchor institutions are mission driven; unable to detach their institutional purpose and viability from the well-being of their core constituents and surrounding communities. ECC’s goal is to help these institutions meet their core mission (education, health, housing, religions, etc) with their fiduciary and legal responsibilities as an organization, while also addressing the broader environmental, economic and social needs of the community. Such solutions not only fulfill the mission of Emerald Cities, but reinforce the economic well-being of the partnering institutions. It is for this reason that ECC is now engaging in a strategic dialogue with health institutions and leaders. ECC is partnering with The California Endowment, Health Care without Harm, BlueGreen Alliance, SEIU, MIT Co-Lab, among others to engage California health and community leaders around building a Sustainable/Green Health movement. Clearly, hospitals and other health institutions around the US are undertaking innovative community and public health strategies as inroads to personal health and well-being. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) gives new urgency and legal standing to devising community benefit programs that incorporate environmental and community health factors. Moreover, as the third largest emitters of green house gas, as well as one of the largest users of hazardous materials, hospital and medical facilities have an important role to play in improving community and environmental health. The strategic question is how do we green the health sector inside and out to make a visible and material difference in not only community health, but also community wealth. Imagine the economic impact of energy efficient facilities, green procurement policies and practices along the supply chain, effective hazardous and waste management. The work of University Hospital in Cleveland, Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Health Charities provide proof of concept. Let’s take this to scale. We look forward to working with our health partners and contributing our unique solution – energy efficiency – to this promise of Community Health and Community Wealth.

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