Brattleboro Memorial Hospital makes social justice commitments

The Brattleboro Memorial Hospital has made public declarations in defense of protecting the climate and getting behind social justice positions, the not-for-profit health care center declared in a press release.

Their release states that their board of directors “have unanimously voted to support efforts to fight climate change and strengthen hospital initiatives that promote the values of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

Stated goals to reduce carbon emissions

It also states that their hospital has adopted what’s called the “Health Care Climate Action Pledge.” More than climate rhetoric, this pledge lays out policy overhauls specifically concerning carbon emissions that are likely to impact any health operations’ budget as it pertains to their ability to provide health services. These three policy targets are:

  1. At minimum, reduce organizational emissions by 50% by 2030 (from a baseline no earlier than 2008) and achieve net-zero by 2050, publicly accounting for progress on this goal every year.
  2. Designate an executive-level lead for their work on reducing emissions by 2023 and conduct an inventory of Scope 3 (supply chain) emissions by the end of 2024.
  3. Develop and release a climate resilience plan for continuous operations by the end of 2023, anticipating the needs of groups in their community that experience disproportionate risk of climate-related harm.

The pledge conflates fighting infectious diseases with its climate goals. It states that signing this pledge means that the hospital must “reduce its own climate footprint, prepare its infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events, respond effectively to potential changes in the spread of infectious diseases, and encourage policy, development, and investment strategies that move our society away from dependence on fossil fuels.”

The board chair Rhonda Calhoun stated, “The transition to a zero-emissions economy benefits both our climate and human health. We believe healthcare organizations have an obligation to reduce their climate footprint and take leadership roles in advocating for a healthy environment based on a foundation that promotes a more equitable economy.”

The nature of these proposals is not dissimilar to the stated goals of the state’s highly controversial Global Warming Solutions Act put into law in 2020 which calls for major state overhauls to the state’s energy, transportation, and heating policies all in the name of hitting similar long-term targets in carbon reductions.

The board will listen to their ‘JEDI’ Committee

The same release puts equal emphasis on the importance of the hospital taking any steps to fight for social justice causes. Specifically the hospital’s president Christopher Dougherty states, “Minorities, along with the urban and rural poor, are the people most vulnerable to the scourge of rising greenhouse gasses,” he said.

He added, “An effective fight to protect our climate must also include efforts to promote justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion as human values that are commonly known and widely accepted.”

The hospital already has a “Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” (JEDI) committee and that is where hospital policy changes concerning social justice efforts will likely come from.

Hospital’s resources already stretched thin?

As of early afternoon on Tuesday, the hospital’s main webpage opens up with a warning to all users, ” Due to an increased demand for EMERGENCY SERVICES, wait times may be longer than usual. We appreciate your patience!” There is no immediate further explanation for the concerning message.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.


Image courtesy of Public domain