Welcome back to The Fixer, our weekly briefing of solutions reported elsewhere. This week: Israeli hospitals take at-home care to a whole new level. Plus, hunters and California condors become birds of a feather, and Copenhagen turns clean energy production into an alpine dream.

The doctor is out

Israel’s overcrowded hospitals sometimes resemble warehouses. Patients waiting for beds get stashed in corridors, kitchens and storage rooms, where they’re prone to infection or injury. Costs and space constraints mean that constructing more units often isn’t an option, so a number of hospitals are starting to set up shop in patients’ homes instead.

As part of a pilot program, health care provider Maccabi is discharging certain patients—like pneumonia sufferers and mothers with premature babies—and sending them home. When they arrive there, they are provided with the same equipment and medical staff they’d get on an in-patient unit, including sonograms, x-rays and frequent check-ins from doctors and nurses. 

It’s not cut-rate medical care. In fact, patients treated at home recover slightly faster, with an average of 6.3 days of care compared to the 6.4 day in-hospital average. Even more impressive is that repeat hospitalization drops by half—four percent of those hospitalized at home require additional care within a week, compared to eight percent of those treated in the hospital. And patients seem to prefer it. Some 80 percent who participated in the project said they liked it, and 90 percent who were offered the option to receive care at home took advantage of the program.

The savings are enormous. Overall, home hospitalization cuts costs by about half. “There aren’t expenses [at home] that exist in the hospital, such as training students, inventory for times of emergency, or property tax and support staff,” Dr. Itamar Offer, who operates the project with Maccabi, told Haaretz. 

Perhaps because of this, there’s already talk of scaling up the project. “The potential is enormous because we know that 30 percent of those hospitalized in the internal medicine wards don’t have to be there,” said Macabbi’s CEO. Its success has even prompted Israel’s finance minister to insist that the program’s capacity be increased from 200 beds to 2,000. “During our next term in office we don’t intend to go the same way as everyone,” he said, “because if we behave like them, your grandmother will continue to sleep in the corridor.”

Read more at Haaretz.

Healthier snacks for California condors

The California condor—extinct in the wild (and barely hanging on in captivity) just three decades ago—is rebounding spectacularly, with an unlikely ally to thank: hunters.

The population of California condors was decimated over the last few decades by bullets—not bullets fired at the condors, but bullets embedded in dead squirrels and coyotes that the condors eat. Ranchers and hunters shoot these animals, and the birds scavenge the carcasses, ingesting the lead along with the meat. Since 1992, 40 percent of condor deaths have occurred this way. 


Rather than try to convince ranchers not to shoot animals they consider pests, the Ventana Wildlife Society began handing out leadless bullets free of charge. The ranchers were happy to embrace the new ammunition (and the squirrels didn’t seem to notice the difference), particularly since condors help keep their grazing lands healthy by removing carrion.

The program proved so successful that California outright banned lead ammunition on July 1. Meanwhile, condors have returned to the wild. There are now over 300 wild California condors throughout the Southwest—close enough to the recovery goal set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that they will soon be downlisted from endangered to threatened. “We’re on the verge of attaining recovery goals, then we’ll need a whole new set of targets,” said the executive director of Ventana Wildlife society.

Read more at Hakai.

Copenhagen’s sustainability summit

Call it the clean power version of a mic drop: CopenHill, a renewable energy power plant in Copenhagen, is now converting 440,000 tons of waste into clean energy per year, enough to power 150,000 homes. But this being Denmark, a winter wonderland with strong clean energy bonafides, the power plant will double as an all-weather skiing, climbing and hiking paradise.

The facility, designed by Bjark Ingels Group, includes a 100,000-square-foot artificial ski slope that twists its way from the roofline to the ground. It also has a 279-foot climbing wall—one of the tallest in the world—and hiking trails adorned with real native plants and flowers. The idea for turning the building into recreational terrain came from the natural design of the plant itself, which requires “the precise positioning and organization of its machinery in height order,” according to BIG partner David Zahle. The whole project plays off of the concept of “hedonistic sustainability”—the idea that greening the planet can benefit not just the environment, but our daily lives, as well.

Since its recreational offerings opened last month, the facility has already attracted legions of curious mountaineers. “Standing at the peak of this human-made mountain that we have spent the last decade creating makes me curious and excited to see what ideas this summit may spark in the minds of future generations,” said Zahle.

Read more at Design Boom.