I am a nurse and work at the local emergency department at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. In the ER, we are seeing the effects of climate change on our patients. Montana is very unprepared for extreme heat. Most Montanans work or play outside every day, but very few Montanans own an air conditioner or even a fan. During the summer, our emergency department implodes with heat-related illnesses and disease. The air quality in Montana is also changing. This change is from a rapidly-growing population and also increasing worsening forest fires.
The air quality is affecting our children. In the emergency department, we are seeing younger and younger children come in with pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and severe asthma attacks. I became a nurse to alleviate suffering and prevent disease. When I learned that climate change is the number one threat to human health in the 21st Century, I knew I had to do something, and that is why I joined the Nurses Climate Challenge, became a nurse climate champion, and an advocate for action on climate change in Montana.
Together, our voices can be the voices of change and a hopeful future for our community, our patients, and our loved ones.
First published: May 13, 2019