MORRISTOWN, NJ – NOVEMBER 10, 2022 – Atlantic Health System was celebrated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) on November 10, 2022 for pledging ongoing action to decarbonize the health care sector and make health care facilities more resilient to the effects of climate change.
Atlantic Health System has formally committed to pursuing the Biden administration’s climate goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. In fact, the organization is already building on its success in implementing renewable, sustainable energy as a reliable power source for its hospitals.
A September 2021 consensus statement from more than 200 medical journals named climate change the number one threat to global public health. It exposes millions of people in the United States to harm every year—with disproportionate impacts on communities that are often already the victims of longstanding discrimination—through increases in extreme heat waves, wildfires, flooding, vector-borne diseases and other factors that worsen chronic health conditions. The healthcare sector also contributes to climate change, accounting for approximately 8.5 percent of U.S. domestic emissions.
The HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, developed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge to help focus industry response to climate challenges. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint, signatories also commit to producing detailed plans to prepare their facilities for both chronic and acute catastrophic climate impacts.
One hundred two prominent health companies in the U.S. have signed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, including organizations representing 837 hospitals as well as leading health centers, suppliers, insurance companies, group purchasing organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Federal systems like the Indian Health Service (IHS), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and Military Health System (MHS) are working together to meet similar goals to those these private sector organizations have embraced. Combined, this means that over 1,080 federal and private sector hospitals have made such commitments, together representing over 15 percent of U.S. hospitals.
“HHS returns this year to COP27 to report great progress,” said ADM Rachel Levine, the Assistant Secretary for Health. “Through the efforts of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity and several other HHS agencies, we have made significant strides in introducing resources and supports to help communities and care providers accelerate their work to reduce harmful emissions and increase climate resilience in the health sector.”
Atlantic Health System’s two teaching hospitals, Morristown Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center, are currently powered by Combined Heating and Power plants (CHP) – at Morristown, a co-generation power plant, and a tri-gen power plant at Overlook. The co-gen plant uses a natural gas-powered turbine, or jet engine, while the tri-gen uses reciprocating engines – to generate electricity. The by-product of the engines is heat, which is then converted to steam, which is used by the hospitals’ boilers for heating and hot water throughout the facility.
In the winter, when demand is lower, the plants can meet nearly all of the hospitals’ electricity needs. In the summer, when heating is not required, the boilers can continue creating hot water for sterilization needs. Each plant provides greener electricity by taking an equivalent of 2,640 gasoline-powered cars off the road each year.
Working in tandem with the hospital’s emergency generators, the power plants also offer the added protection against potential electrical outages from public energy. This was never more apparent than in 2012 - as Superstorm Sandy caused sweeping public power outages throughout the region, Overlook’s tri-gen plant was able to not only keep the hospital completely powered, but also allowed members of the community to recharge their cell phones in the hospital lobby.
In addition to the CHPs, Atlantic Health System is working to install solar panels at each of its medical centers, as well as its Rockaway Pavilion, that will generate a portion of each facility’s electricity or power a solar thermal hot water heating system.
“As health care leaders, we recognize the impact of our operations and sourcing practices on the environment and the health of our communities,” said Brian Gragnolati, President and CEO of Atlantic Health System. “We’ve proven that by operating more sustainably, we can improve the well-being of our patients, team and neighbors while delivering care more efficiently and independently.”
For more information about how Atlantic Health System is responding to our nation’s climate challenges, visit www.atlantichealth.org.
To learn more about the White House/HSS Health Sector Climate Pledge, click here.
About the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity
The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) plays a vital role in protecting the nation’s health from climate change-related risks, including extreme heat, natural disasters, vector-borne diseases and more. Among the supports OCCHE provides for health sector companies that wish to reduce their environmental impact and become more resilient to the effects of climate change are a webinar series and associated compendium of federal resources to support emissions reduction and resilience. OCCHE also publishes a regular Climate and Health Outlook, an effort to inform health professionals and the public on how our health may be affected in the coming month(s) by climate events and provide resources to take proactive action.
About Atlantic Health System
Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of more than 18,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 12 counties and 5.5 million people. The not-for-profit system offers more than 400 sites of care, including its seven hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton, NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ, Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Madison, NJ and through its partnership with CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold, NJ.
Atlantic Medical Group, comprised of 1,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, represents one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey and joins Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners as part of Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network of more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ.
Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs through 23 urgent care centers, Atlantic Visiting Nurse and Atlantic Anywhere Virtual Visits. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.
Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of six regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across five health systems in the region.
Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.