May 19, 2021
Yesterday was another epic climate work day. If you were at the climate change and health meeting last night, I apologize if I sounded a bit manic. Tuesdays is my “admin day” and during my paying hours I stay true to my tasks that I am paid for. I had vaccine quality meeting, per diem physician meetings, sustainability emails, talking to schedulers and just trying to nudge the department on a forward path. It’s amazing how many time-booby traps are out there. Half of my job is to keep on scanning the HMO landscape of all the ways our department can go and yell “TURN TURN TURN” before we get sucked into the wrong direction. That can be the wrong physician, wrong project, wrong quality metric. For now, that is the role I play and I’m not shy about it. But it can be discombobulating at times. Right now I’m working on reorganizing this very large HMO committee into something functional and impactful. We will get there but there are a lot of politics and fine details that need to be worked out.
But then I had the climate work and it was indeed an epic day. To summarize what happened for the blog readership
- HMO Green Team: I thought this one was in the bag but the upper upper management person emailed confirmed my interest and Dr. DN. I thought we had already told the upper upper management person that we were going to do it. But anyway, it’s official now and we will share the role which comes with no time and no pay. Figures. But we are going to make it great and save the earth via greening our little corner of the healthcare sector, and then the time and pay will come later. And even if it does not come, it’s the right thing to do. I pick up trash for free, and I’ll do this. In the end money is a proxy for time and efforts. But what is the value of money if we don’t prevent Planet Earth from becoming like Vulcan. Vulcans can live without water for days. I am rewatching the Star Trek Enterprise. But we humans have not evolved to that extent now. I think it’s easier to try to fight to keep global warming to less than 1.5 degrees centigrade than evolve to live without water for a week.
- Gril Scout Troop Brownie Troop Outing/Trash Art Project: I became connected with a brownie troop in our area a few months ago and delivered a talk to them. They have our patches. The girls were so adorable I can’t begin to tell you. Trying to keep my circle of influence authentic and manageable, I offered to do a litter pick with them and a trash art project. We are in conversations right now. I have reached out more because I thought they were really fun, and it’s something I want to do. So I’ve saved the day for them.
- Committee Meeting: Above is our climate change and health commitee. The actual committee is about 30 people, but these are the ones that showed up. It doesn’t seem like a lot of people, but they are all leading big efforts that we needed to catch up on and discuss. It was a very impactful 30 minutes and exchange of ideas. I am so grateful for each of them. Truly.
- Climate Change and Health Rotation: We actually talked about this a bit yesterday at the committee meeting. Several offered to precept. We talked about strategizing it into a fellowship eventually. I’ve already begun to collate relevant articles. I have to learn not to rush things. Several of us are attending the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health this weekend, and it will be a natural time to text and flush out the rotation. There is nothing like that now in our area and I think 2 residents initially, one rotation in April and another in May would be good. We shall see. I think I need to sketch it out and hand it over to someone else to bring across the finish line. This is a manageable project for someone. I forget how much I’ve done in the past. The pediatric rotation that exists in our HMO was started by myself and an old mentor. I helped start that and I forgot all about it. So there is precedent. This rotation I’m more committed to and it will need my presence.
- Healing Gardens: Sounds like our particular office is going to get approval for a healing garden. I hope they put in pollinators and make it a monarch habitat. It’s so easy. Then you can put a sign on up. I heard about this from another departmental leader. I really do think the butterfly kit project helped propel this idea a bit. But it will be so nice to have a place to walk and sit during lunch. I’m still trying to green the top of the parking structure, but those planters are really rough. The soil is coming back to life but I don’t know how many years it is going to take.
But rather than waiting for years for things to happen, I’ve realized that with all the above projects that I need to reach out. Find help. Sometimes the help comes from unexpected corners. I try not to force projects, just put my head down and keep plugging away. And sometimes I look up and I see a bird for inspiration or I see a beautiful face of a fellow pediatrician lending a hand. In the end this task of stopping climate change is monumental and existential. When I accepted that, that it when I learned to reach out and ask for help. And for everyone out there who shows up, whether it be at last nights meeting, or all the multitude of ways we can move the needle on climate change – just thank you. Thank you for showing up and getting to work. Hope is earned. Hope is earned through action.