Environmental health has been a key factor in nursing’s holistic and integrative view of health from the beginning of the nursing profession. One of Florence Nightingale’s main pillars of health was strict environmental control. Nightingale knew that putting the patient in the healthiest environment was essential for healing to occur. The green hospital movement, inspired by nurses and by our Nightingale legacy, is vital for creating healthier workplace environments. Nurses can be leaders in the creation of safe environments in the home, workplace and community.
According to the World Health Organization, close to one fourth of the diseases experienced by the world’s population can be attributed to environmental exposures. The healthcare industry contributes to this by producing more than 2.4 million tons of waste each year and is one of the largest consumers of energy in many communities. Hospital waste and energy consumption affect the health of the environment and, consequently, the health of each human being within the environment.
As Integrative Nurse Coaches, how do we increase awareness, create opportunities and advocate for a healthier workplace and transform hospitals into sustainable environments for patients and for all who work there? Begin to notice your workplace environment. Are there chemicals you are exposed to daily that might be affecting your health? Are your co workers affected by cleaning products used? What are other choices or options? How can nurses advocate for a healthier workplace environment?
How can your hospital participate in this growing trend towards a more sustainable work environment?