Nurses Lead Green Healthcare Changes
by, 11-16-2010 at 01:48 PM (5136 Views)
Last evening I attended Best of CleanMed 2010 at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, PA. The event was sponsored by Delaware Valley Green Building Council’s Health Care Circle, and brought together over 100 people interested in the design and operation of environmentally responsible health care facilities.
Barbara Sattler, RN, DrPH, FAAN, and Charlotte Wallace, RN, presented a session from this year’s national CleanMed conference in Baltimore, “Nurses Leading Change.” Sattler, professor at University of Maryland School of Nursing, home of the only environmental health nursing graduate program in the country, provided statistics on the health implications of common toxins that nurses and patients are exposed to, and how to utilize hospital environmental assessment tools.
Sattler talked about the Body Burden study, that tested a group of people for 214 toxic chemicals; one nurse, environmental activist Charlotte Brody, RN, had 87 toxins in her body. Read a first hand account of Brody’s reaction to this result at: http://www.grist.org/article/brody-hcwh/ Details about the Body Burden study are available at the Environmental Working Group website (ewg.org), along with helpful guides for decreasing your exposure to toxins such as mercury, lead, plastics, and pesticides.
Wallace discussed the benefits of multidisciplinary “green teams,” citing her experience as team leader at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, MD. Two excellent sources of information for nurses on bringing environmental consciousness to the workplace are available at Practice Greenhealth (www.practicegreenhealth.org) and Healthcare Without Harm (www.noharm.org). For more information on the US Green Building Council and their local chapters, visit http://www.usgbc.org/
Consider joining a group of nurses who are passionate about environmental health issues, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (http://e-commons.org/anhe/). As Dr. Sattler says, it doesn’t matter where or how you start to promote environmental health. Whether recycling, joining a green team at work, starting a drug take back program to keep antibiotics out of the water system, or voting with your wallet and refusing to buy toxic products, everybody needs to dig in and get started!
Donna Novak, RN, MSN, CRNP
Director Nursing Communications & Initiatives, Gannett Healthcare Group