October 2020 Champion!

Carol Lindsey, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP

Nurse Practitioner in Miami, FL

If anyone can help to nurse the planet back to environmental health, maybe it should be nurses – especially ones who know the treatments and who are dedicated to the task.

Which makes Carol Lindsey a prime example of the power of the nursing profession as health care providers unite against the worsening climate crisis.

Lindsey is active in, among other organizations, Florida Clinicians for Climate Action (an affiliate of the Medical Society Consortium for Climate & Health) and Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, also allied with the Consortium, in which nurses around the world work together to decrease carbon emissions and improve health for people and the planet.

The commitment of nurses to environmental health has deep roots, Lindsey says. Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, “was an environmentalist, and she was actually even one of the first statisticians. She collected data on how the environment affected health, during the Crimean War, when she worked in hospitals,” Lindsey says.

Lindsey now lives in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables – in July of 2016, she retired as a captain (a rank equivalent to an Army or Air Force colonel) from the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.

In her retirement, Lindsey continues the Commissioned Corps’ dedication to public health. “I’m very passionate about educating, especially health professionals, about the health impacts from climate change,” she says.

Lindsey tries to reach her audiences, largely nurses, with information they can apply in their work, and especially with information that nurses can pass along to their patients. “For many nurses, it’s an eye-opener”, she says. “A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten is ‘Wow, I didn’t realize that maybe I’m seeing more patients that are suffering from extreme heat illness, because of climate change.’”

Nurses have enormous direct contact with patients, so well-informed nurses can help to create well-informed patients. Lindsey notes that nurses are not only among the most trusted sources of information, they can tell their patients the information that applies most specifically to the patients’ cases. For heat-related illness, this could include the effects of climate change.

But the change Lindsey wants to see goes beyond patient care, because society needs to change. “If we did it through our government, and we elected the right officials, to support things like this, this is very important and could really affect change” she says.