Last year, in a worldwide effort, we asked every nurse to put their life on hold and travel to the front lines in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Our gratitude during this crisis is immeasurable. But actually, the public has always shown reverence for the nursing professionals, honored each year in early May since 1996. Nurses’ week runs May 6, 2021 through May 12th which happens to be Florence Nightingales birthday. The ANA initiated “National Nurses Day” on May 6th to honor the nation’s indispensable registered nurses for their tireless commitment 365 days a year
Florence Nightingale worked with a team of nurses during the Crimean War under horrendous unsanitary conditions. Even so this team reduced the death rate by two-thirds. What she was able to learn has been passed on through the centuries regarding sanitary conditions and how the patient benefits and heals. Her writings and data were directly responsible for healthcare reform and she is widely recognized as the founder of modern nursing.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) was thus founded in 1896 and helps to lead the profession shaping the future of nursing and healthcare. The ANA has become a dedicated resource for nurses during this global pandemic.
Clara Barton founded the American chapter of the Red Cross to respond to crises other than war such as natural disasters like earthquakes, forest fires, and hurricanes. She, and other famous nurses, are highlighted in an online article from the Nurse Journal.
Clara did not have formal training as a nurse, because that had not yet been established. During the American Civil War, she was appointed by Union General Benjamin Butler as the “lady in charge” of the hospitals of the Army. She later became widely known as the “Florence Nightingale of America.”
When the civil war ended, Barton consulted with President Abraham Lincoln, asking for clearance to respond officially to families eager to locate their soldiers that were buried in unmarked graves. She established Office of Missing Soldiers and went onto help many families in distress through 1869.
Mary Eliza Mahoney
Nurses continued to make history and change the face and practices of nursing. The first African American nurse in history to complete official nurse training, in 1879, was Mary Eliza Mahoney. She changed the course of history by graduating from the New England Hospital for Women and Children’s Nursing School. She was ultimately chosen as one of the first Black members of the American Nurses Association and co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN).
These are just a few examples of heroism that nurses have exhibited during peace and wartime, contributing to transformative innovative healthcare reforms. With the respect they have earned, nurses have become a driving force to mandate practice changes that have enabled systemwide successes. Each and every one of those mentioned above, and millions more unmentioned, serve as inspirations to the nurses of today, who are heroically waging a war on COVID-19.
These brave women from the past opened the doors for others and revealed the importance of nurses and midwives. During this pandemic they have exposed themselves and their families to high risks. We have all heard the heroic stories of nurses who have left the safety of their homes to care for others, in hospitals, in ICU, struggling with little or insufficient supplies of PPE. This past year they have met incredible challenges to their own mental health as hospital systems pushed them beyond the brink. Despite these challenges’ nurses and other dedicated healthcare professionals continue stepping forward in support, to put public health at the forefront.
Nurses have clearly demonstrated their ability to continue to uphold their five core values of professional nursing, which are human dignity, integrity, autonomy, altruism and social justice. The caring professional nurse integrates these five values in everyday practice.
We hope to use this opportunity to highlight all that nurses are, as they continue to step forward in the face of difficult times. Nurse heroes somehow find the strength to carry on despite their own vulnerability. What we need to say is simply “Thank you!” This global pandemic has challenged each and every healthcare professional to evaluate their priorities and find inner strength to move forward.
More than ever nurses are called upon to step into numerous supporting roles, there are still babies to be born, trauma care, surgeries, chronic disease care and oncology. America has said “Thank you” in many ways to honor the nurse, from hospital applause, tributes in lights to billboard signs. The country bows in respect and admiration showing your efforts are appreciated.
The world seems to have discovered what we at GoldLeaf Home Health have known all along, that nurses and all healthcare professionals are essential. They have been a shining beacon of light through these dark times. Their heroism has not gone unnoticed. We extend this praise and recognition to physicians, respiratory and physical therapists, case managers, infection control, lab technicians, and many other vital healthcare workers in supporting roles who coordinate care. We thank you!