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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

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This week, facts about Florence Nightingale. Born on May 12, 1810, Florence Nightingale revolutionized nursing around the basic tenet that “nature alone cures. It's an idea that’s very much in vogue today.


KNOY: May 12, 1820, is the birthday of the lady with the lamp. Named after the Italian city in which she was born, legend has it that Florence Nightingale roamed the Barrack Hospital in Scutari,Turkey, with a lantern during the Crimean War, and the soldiers felt comforted by her illuminating presence. Beyond the legend, though, was a pioneer in bringing the environment into health care. Florence Nightingale believed hospitals should have plenty of fresh air, space, sunshine, and windows. And a patient's bed, she said, should face the out of doors. She was also an advocate for bringing animals into health care facilities, especially birds. Patients, she thought, would be soothed by their song. Ms. Nightingale owned a bird herself, a baby owl named Athena that she carried in her pocket. Florence Nightingale's old ideas are now backed up by modern research. Recent studies show that hospital patients who look out onto trees and greenery heal at a faster pace. A patient's blood pressure drops when a cat or dog is brought into the room. And in ICUs, the more natural sunlight present, the lower the mortality rates. Some hospitals are now being built with attention to what's called environmental design, reminding us, as Florence Nightingale wrote, "Nature alone cures." And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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