In light of 2022 Earth Day, Interior Health (IH) has put out a press release highlighting its commitment to a more eco friendly approach to health care.

The most notable of the initiatives is a, first in BC, solution to reprocess anesthetic gasses used on patients.

“At Interior Health, we are focused on providing a greener health-care environment across the region,” said Interior Health president and CEO, Susan Brown.

“With innovative solutions, collaboration, and new investments, we are lowering our carbon footprint and doing our part to prevent the effects of climate change.”

Anesthetic gasses are potent greenhouse gas emissions. This means that once it is released into the environment, it will contribute to climate change.

In an Environment Canada report back in February 2022, it stated that the likeliness of the recent atmospheric rivers phenomena were increased by 60% due to climate change.

“Climate change is one of the greatest health challenges facing communities in Interior Health as we are seeing with increased fires, flooding and extreme heat events,” said Dr. Sue Pollock, interim chief medical health officer.

Only five percent of applied anesthetic gasses are actually absorbed by the patient. The rest of the gasses are exhaled and vented out into the environment through mechanical systems.

The health authority intends to deploy technology to collect the remaining 95% of wasted emissions.

Health Canada will then reprocess the collection of gasses to be used for general anesthesia. This will increase anesthetic supply but also eliminate the venting of gasses.

The Phil and Jennie Gaglardi Tower at Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) in Kamloops, will apply this solution beginning this summer.

“RIH is the second largest surgical site and the second highest user of anesthetic gasses across Interior Health,” said Andrew Hughes, executive director, clinical operations for Interior Health.

“Capturing the greenhouse gas emissions from RIH is about 26 per cent of IH’s total anesthetic gas emissions or similar to taking some 400 cars off the road in harmful greenhouse gasses. Interior Health will continue to look at innovative ways to further reduce emissions as we focus on achieving our targets.”

Other initiatives IH is involved with include:

-Phasing out styrofoam products with their food services

-Lowering overall waste and improving efficiencies in their operations to hit CleanBC targets

-Creating a new lead position that is in charge of devising climate change strategies in health care systems.