3 things you need to know about environmental health at AAMC

3 things you need to know about environmental health at AAMC

Nursing is a healing profession, dedicated to optimizing wellness. Prevention is essential to this mission, yet ironically, toxins in healthcare facilities may contribute to disease.

In October 2003, the ANA Board of Directors adopted this precautionary principle: “If it is within one’s power, there is an ethical imperative to prevent, rather than merely treat, disease, even in the face of scientific uncertainty.” Prevention is a primary focus of AAMC’s green team, the E.A.R.T.H. Advisors, who aim to protect the health of our healing patients and their loved ones, our staff, and our local community.

How are we doing this? And how can you help? Here are three things you need to know.

AAMC is protecting our nurses at work. The E.A.R.T.H. Advisors are very focused at looking our nurses’ occupational health and ways to protect them. A few examples of programs we have implemented to reduce toxins in our working environment are: educating staff through the Glove Up to Wipe Down campaign; implementation of the Safe Handling of Hazardous Medication policy; converting to micro fiber mops; transitioning to 85% Green Seal Certified cleaning products; purchasing mercury and latex free products and equipment; restricting use of high VOC paints and adhesives; offering rBGH free dairy house wide; and maintaining a smoke-free campus

There are simple practice changes we can make to protect ourselves at work. “Put your oxygen masks on first”–a phrase you have probably heard dozens of times from flight attendants–that applies here, too. As nurses, we are skilled at making sure the needs of our family, loved ones and patients are met. Make sure you are taking steps to keep yourself healthy, too! While at work, always “Glove Up To Wipe Down.” The Super Sani wipes are wonderful at preventing disease transmission, eliminating MRSA, HIV, Hep B, and others, but the chemicals they contain will absorb through your skin. Place a box of gloves next to all Super Sani wipe containers to remind yourself and your colleagues to Glove Up.

Become familiar with the Safe Handling of Hazardous Medication policy. The entire purpose of this policy is to protect the health of the nurse—take responsibility to know it and implement it.

It’s not hard to get involved, locally and globally. In fact, you can start today. You can help to reduce our impact to our local region and reduce our carbon footprint. Become familiar with the Waste Disposal chart posted at the top of this blog entry. Reducing what goes to the incinerator will have a huge impact on our local air quality. Next time you leave a meeting or discharge a patient, power off the empty room. Reducing our energy use is one of the easiest ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

“We need to protect the environment, not because we love trees, but because we love people.”  said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. AAMC Nurses, what do you think? Let’s start a dialogue: What are your thoughts and questions about environmental health at AAMC? What needs to be changed? What has been changed that’s made a difference to you? Share it here.

 -Charlotte Wallace, RN, Environmental Action Relates To Health Advisors, chair

4 comments

  1. Posted by Charlotte Wallace, at Reply

    Lynn, great suggestion! Motion sensors are used in a few areas, like bathrooms in the Wayson Pavilion. But yes, we have more areas that they would be prefect in! Turning off the lights as we leave a space, like we would at home, would add up to $$ savings….AKA bonuses!!!

    We are in the process of undergoing a whole building energy audit. More to come….

  2. Posted by Charlotte Wallace, at Reply

    Charlotte, I would love to meet with you to explore further. I will reach out to you via email today. ~Charlotte

  3. Posted by Charlotte Darvich,RN, at Reply

    Many of us who work in the prep team are concerned about the air
    quality in the small room in which eight of us work and call
    patients for 8 hours a day. We sit in a closed room with two
    fax machines (we receive 1000-1200 faxes a day) which are
    emitting paper dust. We have several employees with chronic cough
    and sinus problems. When someone is ill it quickly passes to
    others in the room. Dust is everywhere and falls from the high shelves above our desks. We also have noise pollution with 6-8
    employees talking at once and hammering below us. We all hoped for
    a new area in which to work, but if not possible we hope that someone will assess our working area for improvments in the air
    quality.

  4. Posted by Lynn Dorsey, at Reply

    Has the hospital thought about using timed/motion sensor lights?
    It would be great if everyone remembered to turn off the lights when leaving conference rooms or other non-patient rooms, but it doesn’t happen often enough.

Post your comment