For his many years of work leading a mission to make health care environments healthier on a global scale, Gary Cohen, president and co-founder of Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth, recently was named one of the 2015 Fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — a winner of the so-called "Genius Grant."
For more than 20 years, Cohen has led the health sector in repositioning institutional practices in issues concerning sustainability, climate change and community health.
“Cohen has led a paradigm shift in the perceived responsibility of health care providers, from a narrow, patient-centered duty of service regarding individual health to a broader obligation to also ‘do no harm’ to surrounding communities, their residents and the global environment,” the MacArthur Foundation stated.
Cohen led Health Care Without Harm in its efforts to eliminate mercury from health care beginning with one hospital in Boston, which led to its nearly complete elimination from health care in the United States. His impact also resulted in a global treaty to phase mercury out of health care by 2020.
Health Care Without Harm also played a leading role in reducing the number of waste incinerators in the United States. Health Care Without Harm since has grown into an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, environmental health organizations and others.
In addition, Cohen founded Practice Greenhealth, a membership and networking organization for institutions in the United States and Canadian health care communities that have made a commitment to sustainable practices.
Every year the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation identifies 20 to 30 exceptionally creative individuals who have pursued or can achieve important work and provides them with financial support, freeing them to pursue their most innovative ideas. Each fellow receives $625,000 paid in four installments over five years.