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An Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Los Angeles (California USA) Hospitals, Wildfires Highest Priority

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2017

Sabrina A. Adelaine
Affiliation:
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California USA
Mizuki Sato
Affiliation:
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York USA
Yufang Jin
Affiliation:
UC Davis, Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources, Davis, California USA
Hilary Godwin*
Affiliation:
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California USA
*
Correspondence: Hilary Godwin, PhD UCLA Fielding School of Public Health BOX 951772; 16-035 CHS Los Angeles, California 90095-1772 USA E-mail: hgodwin@ucla.edu

Abstract

Introduction

Although many studies have delineated the variety and magnitude of impacts that climate change is likely to have on health, very little is known about how well hospitals are poised to respond to these impacts.

Hypothesis/Problem

The hypothesis is that most modern hospitals in urban areas in the United States need to augment their current disaster planning to include climate-related impacts.

Methods

Using Los Angeles County (California USA) as a case study, historical data for emergency department (ED) visits and projections for extreme-heat events were used to determine how much climate change is likely to increase ED visits by mid-century for each hospital. In addition, historical data about the location of wildfires in Los Angeles County and projections for increased frequency of both wildfires and flooding related to sea-level rise were used to identify which area hospitals will have an increased risk of climate-related wildfires or flooding at mid-century.

Results

Only a small fraction of the total number of predicted ED visits at mid-century would likely to be due to climate change. By contrast, a significant portion of hospitals in Los Angeles County are in close proximity to very high fire hazard severity zones (VHFHSZs) and would be at greater risk to wildfire impacts as a result of climate change by mid-century. One hospital in Los Angeles County was anticipated to be at greater risk due to flooding by mid-century as a result of climate-related sea-level rise.

Conclusion

This analysis suggests that several Los Angeles County hospitals should focus their climate-change-related planning on building resiliency to wildfires.

Adelaine SA , Sato M , Jin Y , Godwin H . An Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Los Angeles (California USA) Hospitals, Wildfires Highest Priority. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(5):556562.

Type
Original Research
Copyright
© World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2017 

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Footnotes

Conflicts of interest: none.

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