Healing is central to the art and science of nursing. To Nightingale, healing involved bringing the body, mind, and spirit together to achieve and maintain integration and balance. Believing that nature—or the environment—can heal, Nightingale was a forerunner in the concept of an optimal healing environment (OHE). As Kreitzer and Zborowsky explained, OHEs are composed of “people,” “place,” and “process.”

The “place” of interest is the critical care environment. Critical care units were created in the 1950s to provide life-sustaining technology. The environment has brought unintended consequences in the form of noxious stimuli such as excessive noise, bright lights, and frequent interruptions due to the necessity for 24-hour care. Since 1960, the mean noise level in hospitals has increased by 26% during the day (from 57 to 72 dB) and 43% at night (from 42 to 60 dB). These circumstances...

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