Last week the Institute for Healthy Air Water and Soil was honored to celebrate this year’s honorees at the Passport Health Plan and Insider Louisville’s Commitment to Compassion Luncheon.
The luncheon recognized six people who work to improve the health of people in Louisville and go above and beyond their job duties to extend consideration, kindness, and compassion:
– Jonathan Sayat, M.D., Pediatrician and Associate Professor with UofL Physicians
– Mary Haynes, President and CEO of Nazareth Home
– Sarah Daniel, Nurse Practitioner with MD2U
– Diane Riff, Assistant Professor and Family Nurse Practitioner, UofL School of Nursing
– Betty J. Adkins, Community Resource Development Manager at Louisville Metro Department of Health and Public Wellness
– Lisa Benner, Transformation Coach at ChooseWell Communities
The Institute team worked directly with two of these winners as part of the AIR Louisville asthma project. Dr. Sayat is a member of the University of Louisville pediatrics team, one of the healthcare providers distributing the Propeller sensor to patients. Mrs. Adkins is from the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness which is helping the AIR Louisville team to analyze ER visits and hospitalizations linked to asthma.
The luncheon also honored Cedar Lake Lodge for their active celebration of compassion and a video message from Dr. Robin Youngson, an internationally renowned physician for his leadership in promoting compassion in healthcare. Dr. Youngston began his career in Kentucky and is the CoFounder of ‘Hearts in Healthcare,’ a global social movement for health professionals, students, patient activists, and health managers.
The Institute donated plants from our Healthy Plant Collection for table centerpieces at the event. This collection is a partnership with Nanz & Kraft. The plants in the collection were selected based on NASA research, read more about the partnership and the Collection here. The goal was to find plants that can serve as air filters and pull toxins out of the air. Nanz & Kraft donates $10 from each sale to the Institute. Eddie Kraft, an owner of the Louisville florist, is “honored to be a part of making Louisville a healthier place. Being a family owned and operated business since 1850, we do all we can to support the community we love.” The Healthy Plants Collection can make your home or office a little healthier and support our work to make Louisville a healthier place to live.
New Year’s Day is an occasion for fresh starts, new energy and stimulating synergy to create changes that make our world a better place. But as Pope Francis reminds us, ours is a “common home,” one where those for whom fresh starts are marred by poverty, hunger, ill health, discouragement and loneliness.
As 2017 begins, we would like to offer our heartfelt gratitude to Pope Francis. We are so blessed to have this faith-filled man in our midst, leading each of us to care for one another by caring for the health of this “common home,” the Earth, in ways that will enhance our health and wellbeing as well as the health, welfare and the happiness of our descendants for generations to come.
Last fall we traveled to Rome to participate in a timely conference through Religions for Peace (RFP), which has launched the Partnership in “Ethics in Action” Initiative, a multi-faith collaboration for moral solutions to global challenges. This meeting — entitled Ethics in Action for Sustainable and Integral Development — was designed to develop a moral consensus around great challenges related to sustainable and integral development, and to convert this consensus into concrete action.
The Ethics in Action program was launched at the Vatican a year ago, in the glow of the Pope’s Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, as well as the speeches he made to both the United Nations and the U.S. Congress on his trip to the United States. We in Kentucky were deeply honored that of the four American religious leaders the Pope cited, two were from our own state: Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Merton. President Lincoln cared for our common home by saving the Union and by leading to freedom millions of God’s creations who were in bondage. In more modern times, Thomas Merton warned us of dangers to our Earth heralded by the writings of visionary environmentalists like Rachel Carson.
While he was reading Carson’s The Silent Spring in early 1963, Merton wrote: “The whole world itself, to religious thinkers, has always appeared as a transparent manifestation of the love of God, as a ‘paradise”’ of His wisdom, manifested in all His creatures, down to the tiniest, and in the wonderful interrelationship between them.”
Pope Francis is renewing this understanding of the relationship between our “common home” and all of God’s creatures. To assist him in this grand and worthwhile endeavor, we have to join together on a global basis to address the problems of climate change and sustainable growth. However, success on a global level requires action on the local level. And here in Louisville, many of us are seeking to create an urban laboratory where we can take actions that exemplify our commitment to health in all policies, and work together to heal the ravaged earth. The organization that we formed in Louisville, the Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil, seeks to lift up the many ways in which we can regain and reclaim this “paradise” of which Merton spoke so eloquently.
Accompanying this article is the Institute’s Circle of Health and Harmony — a flower, each petal of which identifies an area of health. Each of these petals contributes to the overall health of a person as well as the community as a whole. It is only by nurturing each aspect — nutritional, financial, environmental, psychological, intellectual, spiritual, cultural and physical health — that we achieve a true harmony. Our goal is to seek this balance in all areas of life, leading us to protect the earth’s air, water and soil from harm — and provide us with a platform to protect our environment and therefore all of our world’s people.
Here in Louisville in 2017 we can use this paradigm to guide us in making important personal, social and civic decisions: Whether it’s where we locate an important new hospital, how we structure our educational system to provide improvement for all, or how we treat our fellow citizens, including those who are new to our land, how we can be informed stewards of our environment; and how we can discover new ways of living harmoniously with nature.
Christina Lee Brown is founder of the Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil. Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., is a Smith Lucille Gibson Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville. He is a senior member of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology and the Director of the Diabetes and Obesity Center. He also is co-Director of the American Heart Association Tobacco Research and Addiction Center.
In 2016, we hired a new team member, launched a new product, and collected thousands of data points about asthma in Jefferson County. We also collaborated with more than 30 local and national partners to change the definition of health. We even squeezed in a couple field trips to learn more about the innovative work going on in Kentucky.
Here are the highlights of the year for the Institute for Healthy Air Water and Soil.
2016 was the second year of AIR Louisville, our community asthma project. We enrolled 1,123 people in the project. Over the course of the year, we collected 178,000 data points about rescue inhaler use in Jefferson County. We will be analyzing this data in the first half of 2017 and releasing our results and making policy recommendations in June. We received good press coverage throughout the year, including this story on WLKY in May.
Green for Good
Our other big focus in 2016 was the Green for Good project – a test of the power of plants to protect human health. We worked with St. Margaret Mary and the University of Louisville in addition to other partners from around the country. We will share our findings from this research in spring 2017.
Herbicide research in Cherokee Park
Mollusk field trip
Award for asthma project
In September, I went to Concordium 2016 in Washington DC to represent AIR Louisville. This project won an award for innovative use of data. I shared our work with this digital health project in a poster session. The meeting showcased innovation and emerging science and promoted collaboration in an effort to improve health. My favorite session was: “We’re All Data Consumers: Personal Health Technology and Storytelling.” This session acknowledged that science and evidence are most effective when they reflect individual stories and experiences. Panelists represented varied viewpoints highlighting the roles of clinicians, patient advocates, and researchers in bringing data, data use and its impact together. Comments from the panel and the audience highlighted challenges of conducting and translating science in reliable and valid ways while paying careful attention to lived experiences of individuals.
South by South Lawn
I went back to Washington DC in October to represented AIR Louisville at South by South Lawn, a technology and art festival at the White House. The one-day festival included life-size Lego figures, panel discussions about the future of food, how to maintain civic activism, a short-film festival and a screening of “Before the Flood.” This documentary by Leonardo di Caprio focuses on climate change. President Obama hosted a discussion with Leonardo DiCaprio and climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe about the importance of protecting our planet for future generations.
Healthy Plants Collection
In November, we partnered with Nanz & Kraft and used research from NASA to create a collection of plants that can clean indoor air. The Healthy Plants Collection can pull common airborne toxins out of the air. The Institute receives $10 from the sale of each plant. Our work has focused a lot on outdoor air and the impact of air pollution on human health. Indoor air influences our health as well. These plants are a first small step to improving our indoor air. With our partners, we are discussing new projects that take on indoor air quality. We are still debating the right approach, but we hope to address this element of a healthy world in 2017.