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Healthcare workers host climate action in Missoula

Medical professionals bicycled to hospitals in ‘Ride for Their Lives’ event
Posted at 2:44 PM, Oct 17, 2022

MISSOULA — Physicians, hospital administrators, and University of Montana students rode bicycles around Missoula to both Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center on Sunday, as a part of the global climate campaign, "Ride 4 Their Lives".

The group ride was led by Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate and the group ride was to highlight the successes of hospitals in reducing their impact on the planet, while also thinking of ways to improve. In America, the healthcare industry accounts for about 8.5 percent of all greenhouse gases.

Beth Schenk, Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship for Providence Health and Services, said it’s not hard to convince doctors to buy in on reducing emissions.

“In healthcare, it’s an easy sell,” Schenk said. “We can say, we’re harming health, and we can do better.”

Dr. Lori Byron, a pediatrician from Hardin, Montana, said she’s seeing people of all ages getting sick from pollutants.

“Climate change and air pollution starts affecting children while they are still in the womb,” said Byron.

Providence Health has implemented small actions, like cleaning disposable tools instead of tossing them out, and it has saved their hospitals millions of pounds of potential trash each year. Sustainability practices hospitals could implement are a win-win: reduce the planetary impact of a business, and save money by reducing waste. Schenk added that it’s easy to have anxiety when thinking about climate change, but everyone can apply small changes to their own workplace.

“People who really care about this still are overwhelmed,” Schenk said. “They don’t know what to do, can’t feel like they can do, so they’re disempowered. That’s no way to solve a problem. We need to help people feel like they can do something.”

If you would like more information on how health professionals are trying to combat climate change, visit