Feature Stories


Sophia Labeko


UCSF Health Staff Finds Bliss When Both Cars Break

Passion and knowledge drive Freya Magnusson to take sustainable actions. Most recently, when both of her cars broke down without repair, she donated them, started taking public transportation, and never looked back at the ‘convenience’ of owning a car. Without being tied down to driving, she found time for mindfulness and walking.

Magnusson, a hospital unit service coordinator in the inpatient Pediatric ICU at Mission Bay, has been with UCSF for nearly 15 years. She explains her role as that of Frank Martin, played by Troy Evans, in the 90s show ER. This was one of the only shows that featured the invaluable support a hospital unit service coordinator provides to in patient care.

Getting Back Time

So, why did Magnusson transition from a two-car-owner to zero? Unexpectedly, both of her cars broke down. Her 1997 Dodge Ram Van couldn’t pass the smog test, while the other, 2006 Jeep Liberty, came down with major engine problems. “I found it ironic that they both fell apart at the same time and figured it was a sign,” she recalls.

Unfazed by the forthcoming changes to her routine, Magnusson figured this was a good opportunity to try public transportation. This change increased her one-way commute time to two hours–from the Inner Sunset to Mission Bay–but the benefits of not owning a car tipped the scale. After just one week of taking MUNI to and from work, her stress levels decreased. “All the stress surrounding vehicle ownership and vehicle operations just melted away,” she says.

Moreover, taking MUNI gave her time to daydream, meditate, think, listen to podcasts, and more. She was walking in place of sitting in her car and feeling better not having to think of and deal with the endless list of costs associated with owning a car. She exchanged the hefty sum of parking fees, occasional tickets, maintenance, gas, and renewal fees, for an $88 monthly MUNI pass. “I have heard about the bliss associated with giving up vehicle ownership in San Francisco but had always had a car since I was 18….I’m so glad I was rather forced to give them up and I’ll never go back to car ownership again,” she exclaims. When she does need to drive there are plenty of popular last minute car services and rental options.

What else? The walking is accumulating and helping her reach her goal weight. She has already lost fifteen pounds.

LivingGreen Certificate

Retiring two vehicles when they reached end-of-use is the latest green achievement, but not the first or the only one. It’s no secret that animal products like beef, lamb, and cheese reign at the top of the carbon emissions for food. So, to do her part, Magnusson started eating a plant-based diet. She also figured out how to heat and cool her house using a mini-split system. Both of these actions drastically reduce her carbon footprint.

As if that isn’t enough, Magnusson achieved a UCSF sustainability victory when she received the LivingGreen certificate for her UCSF unit. This means the unit has taken steps to reduce waste and advance UCSF to carbon neutrality. She says the process was challenging because ICU’s, unlike non-critical care units, have the strictest level of barriers with Infection Control. Despite the challenge, she says, “I believed if our Pediatric ICU could achieve this, then other ICUs would try as well. I also did it because I believe we waste a lot in American medicine and can be better at reducing our waste.”