Fall 2019 Climate News from the MGH Institute of Health Professions
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A Message from Center Director Dr. Patrice Nicholas
I recently listened to a webinar hosted by the American Lung Association titled “State of the Air 2019.” I wasn’t surprised to hear that “climate change is fueling wildfires and weather patterns that are making air quality worse.” From the report:
"Our 20th annual national 'report card' on outdoor air quality finds that more than four in 10 Americans live with unhealthy air, putting them at risk for serious health effects like lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage and premature death. This year’s report spotlights the increasing role that the changing climate plays in worsening air quality across the nation, placing health and lives at risk. The “State of the Air” 2019 finds that eight cities suffered their most polluted air ever recorded and sounds the alarm for telling Congress and the Trump administration that we all must do more to fight climate change. Read more and learn how you can help.
Four in 10. That’s how many of us are at risk for early death, simply by breathing. Not to mention the millions of school and work days missed due to asthma-related illness. This is serious stuff!
What Can Health Care Workers Do?
Apply the Learn One - Do One - Teach One Model • Learn about the health impacts of climate change and what you can do. The opportunities for this are truly awesome and there are some really great resources out there. I’ve shared a few below, but please don’t stop there. If you find something great, please share it with us! • Do it! Implement one or more clean energy and living solutions into your personal and/or professional life. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start here. • Teach it to (or just Talk About It with) your friends, family, patients, and neighbors, sharing what you’ve learned and how it is working in your life. Listen to them, connect by expressing values that you share (keeping our babies healthy, swimming at the local watering hole, sitting around a campfire, neighborhood BBQs, spending time with loved ones, being overwhelmed by the chaotic pace of the world right now), then match it to climate change.
Patrice Nicholas, DNSc, DHL (Hon.), MPH, RN, NP-C, FAAN Director, Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health
The Role of Health Professionals in Reducing Impact of Climate Change
Keynote Speaker Gina McCarthy, Professor of Public Health Practice at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Director of C-Change.
More than 100 health care professionals came to the IHP on April 6 to participate in "Reducing the Impact of Climate Change on Health: The Role of Health Professionals." The symposium, hosted by the School of Nursing Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health, served as a call to action for nurses, physicians, and other health professionals to recognize climate change as a serious health threat that ordinary people have the power to change.
Next Symposium: April 4, 2020
The Center’s 2nd annual symposium, “Climate Change & Health 2020: The Public Health Challenge of Our Time,” is Saturday, April 4, 2020. Registration is now open, and the cost is $199. A special student rate is also available. Click here to read about outcomes, speakers, and other details or to register now.
Center to Host Summit October 19
The Climate Change Center will host the 8th annual meeting of the Global Nursing Caucus on Saturday, October 19. The event’s theme is “Celebrating Initiatives to Promote Nursing across the Globe.” IHP alumna Sheila Davis, DNP ’08, the new president of Partners in Health, will give the keynote address. Click here to learn more or register.
U.S. Call to Action on Climate, Health, and Equity: A Policy Action Agenda
MGH Institute of Health Professions recently joined over 100 health and medical groups to launch the "U.S. Call to Action on Climate, Health, and Equity: A Policy Action Agenda." This important document is a must-read for nurses; the article discusses evidence-based Priority Actions for policymakers. IHP partners like Climate for Health (CfH) and the Alliance of Nurses for Health Environments (ANHE) have also signed on. Founded by ecoAmerica, CfH offers tools, resources, and communications to demonstrate visible climate leadership, inspiring and empowering health leaders to speak about, act on and advocate for climate solutions. Among the resources they offer, make sure to check out the article "Evidence-Based Advice for Talking about Climate Change. ANHE promotes healthy people and healthy environments by educating and leading the nursing profession, advancing research, incorporating evidence-based practice, and influencing policy. To learn moreread the joint position statement of the Nursing Collaborative on Climate Change and Health, facilitated by CfH and ANHE.
We’re Working to Make a Difference
Not everyone may recognize that health professionals can play a critical role in preventing and preparing for climate change. The consequences of global warming are a major threat to the health of individuals, families, communities, and populations both here and abroad, and it promises to worsen dramatically if left unchecked.
As health professionals we play a critical role in climate change prevention and preparedness. We are policy makers, scientists, teachers, and environmentalists, as well as clinicians. Our efforts can address mitigation, adaptation, and resilience through education, practice, research, and service related to the health effects of climate change.
The Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health has become the first academic partner of the Nursing Collaborative on Climate Change and Health. The collaborative, spearheaded by the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) and Climate for Health, represents more than 150,000 nurses and nursing students nationwide. It is an initiative that encourages and empowers nurses as well as all health professionals to act on climate as a health imperative. For more tools and ways to be engaged, visit the ANHE Climate Change page.
Fighting Climate Change, One Tree at a Time
Students Holly Ann Sullivan, SLP '20 (L) and Courtney Perrigo, SLP '20 (R), water trees with SON Professor Patrice Nicholas.
Elementary Students Visit Institute for Earth Day Event
Fifth-grade students from nearby Harvard-Kent Elementary School visited the Institute on Earth Day to learn about climate change from faculty involved with the Climate Change Center. Faculty members and students watched a video, Planet Earth Gets Well, and discussed how we can protect our planet by decreasing our contributions to climate change.
• Partners HealthCare's latest Annual Report features an article on the IHP's Climate Center, "Nurses Answer the Call on Climate Change" (page 33).
• Center Director Patrice Nicholas was recently interviewed by WBUR CommonHealth for a segment on how nurses and doctors are starting to bring climate change conversations into the exam room. The segment also ran on NPR's Weekend Edition.
Recent Publications from the Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health
Nicholas, P. K., Breakey, S., Tagliareni, E., Tuck, I., Neal-Boylan, L., Ladd, E., Corless, I. B., Reynolds, R. Y., Simmonds, K., & Lussier-Duynstee, P. (In press, 2019). Advancing a School of Nursing Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health. Annual Review of Nursing Research.
Neal-Boylan, L., Breakey, S., & Nicholas, P. K. (2019). Integrating climate change topics into nursing curricula. Journal of Nursing Education, 58, 364-368.
Nicholas, P. K., & Breakey, S. (2019). The economics of climate change and the intersection with conflict, violence, and migration. Nursing Economics, 37(1). 23-34.
Nicholas, P. K., Rosa, W. E., & Breakey, S. (2019). The imperative for climate action to protect health (Letter to the Editor). New England Journal of Medicine, 380(17), e29. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc1902963
Lilienfeld, E., Nicholas, P. K., Breakey, S., & Corless, I. B. (2018). Addressing climate change through a nursing lens within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: A scoping review. Nursing Outlook, 66 (5), 482-494. doi: 10.1016/j.outlook.2018.06.010