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InSight+: Top End hospital leads the green revolution in health care

The Royal Darwin Hospital Campus Greening Project incorporates First Nations’ Knowledge of the natural environment and offers a template for climate adaptation and mitigation in healthcare settings across Australia, writes specialist emergency physician Dr Mark De Souza.

A collaboration with Larrakia traditional healers and ethnobotanists to green RDH improves cultural security and health outcomes for Indigenous peoples who are over-represented in Australian hospitals.

The benefits of green-based designs include reduced blood pressure, reduced post-surgical recovery time and reduced need for analgesia. There is evidence that “nature prescriptions” reduce health care’s carbon footprint, may improve stress-related and cardiometabolic disease and promote hospital recovery.

Biophilic design may also assist healthcare staff. It may help manage the mounting operational challenges imposed on them, which is essential in an era marked by unprecedented levels of stress, uncertainty and disconnection from nature.

The RDH project also provides a platform for Indigenous Knowledge to assist with climate adaptation.

Northern Australia is at the forefront of climate change, and is predicted to be uninhabitable within a generation if we continue on our current emissions trajectory.

Future directions using native landscapes will help to adapt to climate while improving wellbeing, Indigenous cultural security and local biodiversity.

Mark De Souza is a specialist emergency physician at Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) who leads the RDH Campus Greening Project and is a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia.

Read the full article in Insight+

*Photo: Mark De Souza

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