As our loved ones heal, the human(kindness) connections between healthcare and the environment become more urgent

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“We have a duty to our vulnerable brothers and sisters: a duty of justice, of civility and of solidarity.” – Pope Francis

Our hospitals have become centers of life and death this year, something never seen before. Frontline workers are dealing desperately with the crisis inside the walls of health care centers around the country. And although we may try to look away, the pandemic has sometimes made the illness and death of friends and family in a hospital visible for everyone in the world to see, albeit from afar.

As we grapple with the tremendous healing that is needed both of our loved ones and of our society and planet, many of us in the healthcare field are also thinking long-term: what will healthcare take away from the pandemic?  How will we more urgently fuel the humankindness that our faith demands of us in hospitals, and in our communities? How will we all come to see the divine connections between our health and God’s creation more clearly, more deeply.

The answers to these questions are one reason I joined the board of Catholic Climate Covenant, an organization that works with Catholic healthcare associations because as Laudato Si’ tells us, everything is connected. I urge you to support their work.

Please DONATE today.

My health care system, CommonSpirit Health, was founded decades ago by women religious—Sisters who had a rich legacy of serving people in need, especially those who were poor and vulnerable. In my role I focus on sustainability initiatives and business practices that promote care for Earth and use of sustainable resources—cutting greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable energy, decreasing energy use, landfill waste and toxic chemicals and promoting healthier foods.  Creating a healthier planet improves human health. But just as importantly, we focus specifically on the needs of the most vulnerable as part of normal operations.

For example, we also have baked into our health care solutions needed to address human trafficking, domestic violence and opioid addition — all concerns particular to poor and vulnerable people.

We do this because we believe health care is in a unique position to be a force for healing and regeneration — not only to those who come to us for care — but to those in the communities we serve and all who are part of the fragile ecosystem of our common home.

We need bold, intertwined solutions to address the climate crisis, and all of our biggest challenges. We acknowledge the urgency of the situation we are facing and have been engaging with other partners who are also dealing with these complexities – partners that include the Catholic Climate Covenant.

Please DONATE now to fuel their work, for the health of all of us.

Sister Mary Ellen Leciejewski

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Dominican Sister and VP of Environmental Sustainability at CommonSpirit Health, a faith-based, nonprofit health system serving 21 states, 142 hospitals and hundreds of communities across the U.S.

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