The last day of Nurses Week ends today on Florence Nightingale’s Birthday: May 12.
Would Flo be surprised that a special day, May 6, had been dedicated to nurses in 1982, and in 1990, that day grew into a full week that ended on her birthday? Would she be pleased that the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in honor of her 200th birth anniversary? Would she be happy to learn that this 2020 designation is significant because WHO is promoting nursing education that will increase the numbers of nurses and midwives in order to strengthen Universal Health Coverage?
What would Flo think of the modern nurses’ role in this Pandemic? Would she be reminded how she, during the Crimean War, campaigned for better care of the sick and wounded soldiers and for a higher standard of hygiene, which saved countless lives? I bet she would be proud to see that nurses are still campaigning for better conditions for their patients. And that they are speaking out for safe working conditions for all health care workers.
I’m reblogging Suzanne Gordon’s post: Why Does It Take a Pandemic to Recognize Nurses?
I have long followed Suzanne Gordon who is not a nurse but has been a relentless advocate of nursing over the years. She is a journalist and author of many books about the health care system. She co-authored Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public.
Reading her post gives me hope that nurses finally find themselves strategically placed in the current COVID-19 pandemic to call attention to the importance of their expertise and place in the hierarchy of health care providers.
Over the past few weeks, as the coronavirus has whipped through the country, the press, policy makers and the public have finally recognized the value of the largest profession in healthcare. Every media outlet reporting on the crisis now includes comments from nurses, reports on the risks nurses face as they care for patients, discussions of nursing shortages, and the complex work nurses do. It’s about time.
My question is why has it taken this long. And why aren’t policy makers and hospital administrators giving nurses what they need. NOW!!!
For years, nurses have tried to explain their work to the public. I have been honored to help with this work. As I have written in my bookSafety in Numbers, unions, like the California Nurses Association, have fought to get safe nurse to patient ratios. Other unions, like the Massachusetts Nurses Association, have fought for the kind of safe staffing legislation, that if enacted in every state except for only one – California – would have encouraged safer nurse to patient ratios and ensured that there would be enough nurses to take care of patients in hospitals all over the country in a time of national emergency. Hospital associations have derailed this kind of legislation whenever and wherever it has been proposed.
Nurses have asked for the lift equipment that would pay for itself and make their work safer. Hospital associations have fought this wherever and whenever it has been proposed. Now nurses are asking for personal protective equipment to make their work safe and hospital associations, legislators, governors, and the President are not supporting this request.
And so nurses are speaking out to the media about the risks of their work and what is the response of their employers? To issue disciplinary warnings, fire them, threaten them, silence them.
Well nurses are rejecting this and must be even more vocal in doing so. And we the public must add our voices to support them.
Not only should nurses be recognized and their insights, concerns and demands solicited, honored, and effectively addressed, so should the needs of all other healthcare workers. Nurses know that healthcare is delivered by a team and that it takes a literal village to care for a patient. We need to listen to nurses and also to nursing assistants, to housekeepers, to dietary workers and transport workers and many others. It takes a team to care for patients with COVID-19 and those team members need our help, support and action now!!!