Nursing Hosts Fifth Annual Environmental Excellence in Health Care Conference
“Climate change is a major public health issue facing the United States, but few Americans are aware of the consequences,” said Kim Knowlton, DrPH, senior scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council Health and Environment Program. Knowlton was the keynote speaker at the Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment’s (MD H2E) fifth annual Environmental Excel-lence in Health Care Conference, held at the School of Nursing last month.
More than 25 speakers, including a discussion panel, addressed nearly 200 conference attendees. Knowlton discussed various topics dealing with climate change and the effect of environmental factors on health care, including the many ways in which humans can minimize climate change and work to limit its damage.
“The health effects of climate change impact us all. However, health professionals can be powerful leaders in creating healthier, more secure communities for our families,” Knowlton said. “We know enough now to act.
“Local government and health care decision-makers have a great responsibility to ensure the well-being of citizens,” she continued. “The state of Maryland is providing progressive leadership in both climate health preparedness and prevention,” said Knowlton.
Having protocols in place that identify, prioritize, and monitor demographic and physical/environmental vulnerabilities also were discussed.
During the conference, five Maryland hospitals and one nurse received awards for their environmental health achievements.
Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association, presented Trailblazer Awards to Deer’s Head Hospital Center in Salisbury, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, and the University of Maryland Medical Center. Trailblazer Awards are given annually to hospitals that have shown leadership in advancing sustainability in their operations.
Nursing master’s student Charlotte Wallace, RN, a pediatric nurse and sustainability coordinator for Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC), won the Nursing Leadership in Environmental Health Award. She is one of only two nurses in the state to hold a sustainability position in a medical system. She has implemented many environmental initiatives at AAMC, including money-saving recycling programs, a farmers market, and the addition of environmental health information in newborn classes.