Environmentally-Friendly Hospitals and the Implications for Nursing Practice within the Australian Healthcare Context

Tuesday, 31 July 2012: 10:45 AM

Teresa M. A. Lewis, RN, GradDip, (Mid)
Institute for Health and Social Science Research, Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Health, CQ University, Queensland, Australia
Lorna Moxham, PhD, RN, MHN, MEd, BHSc, DAS (Nsg), GradCertOH&S, GradCertQualMgt, FCON, FACMH
school of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia
Marc Broadbent, RN, GradCert, GradDip, MEd
School of Nursing & Midwifery, Insitute for Health and Social Science Research, Noosaville, Australia

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand the importance of environmental issues and adverse climate change impacts on health.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand the transition from a traditional hospital to a more environmentally-friendly hospital.

Purpose: The aim of this paper is to present results from a PHD project that examined implications for Registered Nurses practice when employed in hospitals that were using strategies to mitigate their impacts on climate change. Such strategies included the implementation of green teams, recycling and even worm farms. It was found that hospitals have to move from a ‘business as usual approach’, to one that is more environmentally sustainable. 

Methods: The phenomenological methodology included an in-depth review of the literature which examined climate mitigating factors within the health care environment, particularly within Australian hospitals. The qualitative approach included in-depth semi structured interviews that permitted participants to express their experiences related to nursing practice in hospitals that are increasingly known as global, green and healthy hospitals. 

Results: Contemporary nursing practice is dynamic.  Not only does technology change rapidly and patient acuity is increasingly more complex, registered nurses increasingly have to consider how their practice impacts on the world’s climate. This adds yet another layer to what nurses already pack into a busy daily agenda.    

Conclusion: No longer can health care organizations continue with 'business as usual', hospitals and nurses now have to be highly cognizant of the implications of their practice on the world’s climate.