Nurses Working to Prevent Disease at Home

Week 4: Public Health Threats, Emergencies, and Disasters

Public health threats, emergencies, and disasters are as diverse as they are devastating to a population. Infections such as pandemic influenza outbreaks cause severe illness and often death in susceptible populations like the very young or old. Disasters such as these require rapid response to vaccinate susceptible populations and educate the public on how to protect themselves from contracting the disease.

Natural disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, sudden heavy snowstorms or blizzards, and flooding also jeopardize health. These types of disasters create environmental health concerns through the spread of toxic waste, increased water-borne infections and insect-borne disease, as well as loss of power or the inability to navigate roadways during floods or blizzards. In addition, natural disasters create environmental concerns such as low food supply, destruction of crops and livestock, and lack of clean water. Natural catastrophes like these are predicted to increase in frequency and severity as long as climate change with increasing global temperatures continues unchecked through slow reaction or frank inaction by governments.

Organizations across the globe are developing strategies for decreasing their carbon footprint in order to reduce pollution that contributes to climate change. Because no one is immune from this hazard, nurses must have a grasp of the growing concern for the impact of climate change and its associated implications for public health worldwide. It is important for nurses to learn how to increase their leadership capabilities to affect local, state, and national outcomes.

This week, you will consider the role of the nurse in preventing illnesses due to environmental issues. Additionally, you will discuss the role of nurses in developing health promotion and health protection strategies to address global climate change health concerns.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze the role of the nurse in preventing illnesses due to environmental issues
  • Analyze the implications of global climate change on health*

*The Assignment related to this Learning Objective is introduced this week and submitted in Week 5.

Photo Credit: Photograph by Michael Rieger taken on 09/01/2005 in Louisiana – 15091. FEMA.

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Holtz, C. (2013). Global health care: Issues and policies (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

  • Chapter 14, “Global Perspectives on Nutrition” (pp. 355–384)
  • Chapter 16, “Global Perspectives on Environmental Health” (pp. 409–427)

Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2016). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

  • Chapter 10, “Environmental Health” (pp. 217–241)

Public Health Nursing: Population-Centered Health Care in the Community, 9th Ed. by Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. Copyright 2015 by Elsevier Health Science Books. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Science Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Veenema, T. G., Griffin, A., Gable, A. R., MacIntyre, L., Simons, N., Couig, M. P., … Larson, E. (2016). Nurses as leaders in disaster preparedness and response—A call to action. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 48(2), 187–200.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Required Media

Laureate Education. (Producer). (2010a). Public and global health: Global emergencies and disasters [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 9 minutes.

Accessible player–Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload Transcript

TED. (2015a). Why climate change is a threat to human rights. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/mary_robinson_why_climate_change_is_a_threat_to_human_rights

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 22 minutes.

Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, talks about the effects of climate change on human rights in poorer populations where some islands or lowlands are beginning to submerge as sea waters rise.

TED. (2016b). The case for optimism on climate change. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/al_gore_the_case_for_optimism_on_climate_change

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 25 minutes.

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks practically about global warming and offers some reasons we should feel optimistic about recent developments and changes in outcomes. His message is that people are changing their attitudes about global warming into action to stop the warming trend.

Writing Resources and Program Success Tools

Document: AWE Checklist (4000) (Word document)

This checklist will help you self-assess your writing to see if it meets academic writing standards for this course.

Walden University. (n.d.). Walden templates: General templates: APA course paper template with advice (6th ed.). Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/ld.php?content_id=7980455

Dr. Mary Bassett (Health Commissioner of New York City) discusses why physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals should not keep silent about health care disparities, based on her insights from her work in Zimbabwe.

Discussion: Nurses Working to Prevent Disease at Home

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2016), a vaccination has not been found to prevent the Zika virus, a disease that has been transmitted to humans through mosquito bites from mosquitoes that are most active during the day. Zika has been found in many countries around the globe, and its range is expanding. The symptoms of Zika are generally mild, last about a week, and include fever, rash, joint pain, and/or conjunctivitis. Symptoms are generally so mild that many victims will not know they have been infected, but about 20% of those individuals who are bitten will develop Zika. The most concerning symptom of Zika affects pregnant women, whose babies may develop microcephaly. In general, the CDC (2016) has recommended that people wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside and apply insect repellant beforehand to avoid getting bitten. People who possibly have been infected with the Zika virus are urged to use a condom during sexual contact to avoid spreading the virus to others. In fact, some countries, such as El Salvador, have recommended that women avoid pregnancy for the next two years (The New York Times, 1/25/16). The CDC has also recommended that any vessels or containers of open water be protected from access to mosquitoes so that breeding cycles are disrupted. Brazil has begun a massive campaign to stop mosquitoes from accessing breeding grounds by closing their access to water collection systems and other sources of standing or still water. Could something like the Zika virus begin in your neighborhood?

In this Discussion, you will examine your neighborhood through the eyes of the public health nurse or a nurse epidemiologist.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Walk around a two-block radius near where you live or work.
  • Look to see if you can spot any areas where mosquitoes may reproduce. These sites may include abandoned tires, rainwater collection systems that have been installed at homes, parks or golf courses, low sections at roadsides or near sidewalks, and the like. You may include pictures of sites that you find to enhance your discussion thread.
  • Note any positive or negative findings that you observe. Have steps been taken to prevent mosquito breeding?
  • Find out what your community health department does for mosquito abatement.
  • Discover who in your community you would contact to report deficiencies/negative findings.
  • Determine what you can do, as a PHN, to change policy to reduce mosquito breeding grounds in your neighborhood.

By Day 3

Post your findings regarding mosquito breeding grounds in a two-block radius near where you live or work. Include any preventative strategies you can see that are already in place. Report on the role your local health department plays in mosquito abatement and to whom you would report negative findings. Then, describe your role as a BSN in changing policy to ensure a healthier climate (reduced mosquito breeding grounds) in your neighborhood.

Support your response with references from the professional nursing literature.

Note Initial Post: A 3-paragraph (at least 250–350 words) response. Be sure to use evidence from the readings and include in-text citations. Utilize essay-level writing practice and skills, including the use of transitional material and organizational frames. Avoid quotes; paraphrase to incorporate evidence into your own writing. A reference list is required. Use the most current evidence (usually ≤ 5 years old).