When the environment calls for help WE ACT

August 26, 2020 Beth Schenk


While the global pandemic continues to demand our time and attention, we remain steadfast in our belief that a healthy planet is critical for the continued health of our communities. This is one of the reasons Providence is committed to making environmental stewardship an organizational priority.

Our commitment

On Earth Day this past April, Dr. Rod Hochman, CEO of Providence, announced that the organization has committed to becoming carbon negative by 2030. This is a major undertaking for any organization, but especially for a health care organization that operates in seven markets with 51 hospitals and more than 1,000 clinics.

In addition to Dr. Hochman’s announcement of the goal for the organization, Beth Schenk, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, who had been leading the organization’s nursing research and sustainability initiatives in Montana, was appointed to a new role as executive director of environmental stewardship. This is a new position for Providence and one that is essential to work toward our carbon-negative goal. Beth works closely with Ali Santore, SVP of government affairs and social responsibility, to lead the environmental stewardship program for Providence.  

Organizational efforts to achieve our goal will include initiatives designed to work with caregivers across all areas of the organization as well as double down on being good stewards of our financial resources to ensure we have the funds to put our ideas into action. We will also continue to invest in our communities to build resilience and advocate for environmentally just policies.

Mobilizing our passionate caregivers with WE ACT

With over 100,000 caregivers across the Providence health system, we have a ready-made cadre of passionate community activists. To help activate caregivers (our term for employees) the environmental stewardship team created the WE ACT framework, which describes our five key focus areas: 

  1. Waste
  2. Energy/water
  3. Agriculture/food
  4. Chemicals
  5. Transportation

This framework will help ministries and caregivers understand our priorities and identify ways to contribute to our organizational goal of carbon negativity. Over the next few months, we will introduce each component of this framework, along with tips on how to get involved, and examples of the great work already being done throughout our family of organizations.

Learn more about the Providence environmental leadership team. 

Related resources

Providence announces new environmental stewardship leader

Healthcare leaders form alliance to address climate concerns in WA

Reducing our carbon footprint

About the Author

Beth Schenk is the executive director of environmental stewardship for Providence, leading a cross-functional commitment to reduce operational pollution while addressing environmental justice and climate resilience in the communities we serve. Beth has been a Providence caregiver for over 30 years. From serving as an ICU nurse at St. Patrick in Missoula to leading nursing research across the Providence organization, Beth has nurtured her passion for environmental care. Her first successful recycling project was over 25 years ago. Since then she has led Montana’s award-winning Green 4 Good program. She co-founded Providence’s first regional environmental stewardship council. She has co-led a system-wide monthly meeting on environmental stewardship since 2008.

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