Florence Nightingale was born on this date in 1820. Each year since Flo was 79 years old, May 12th has been celebrated as International Nurses Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) chose 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse, marking 200 years since the founder of modern nursing was born.
As COVID-19 cases soar across the globe WHO’s choice seems rather providential. It is Florence’s seminal work in sanitation (specifically handwashing) that has led to the modern standards in hygiene. She would have been quite pleased to hear of companies moving production from their usual output of gin to hand sanitiser and celebrities using their fame to teach all and sundry how to properly wash their hands. As the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society (imagine what a stir that would have created in the 1800’s) she used statistics to demonstrate the nature and magnitude of conditions affecting medical care during the Crimean War to Members of Parliament.
It seems serendipitous that our COVID-19 experiences are occurring during such an important year on the nursing calendar. I wonder what the world would have looked like if the Lady with the Lamp, with her head for numbers and figures hadn’t been such a force for change during her time.
This history is important as each and every nurse that we celebrate today has Florence and her legacy bolstering their profession. At the moment one need only open up Facebook, switch on the TV, hear the clapping at 7pm or open the papers to understand why we celebrate these amazing individuals.
Each year one of our amazing local nurses would usually issue an invitation to all nurses around the region for breakfast. Around a roaring fire, coffee in hand the nurses who provide their professional services and care across the district would catch up and celebrate each other in their similarities and their diversity. All before heading off for another day of nursing.
Of course, these plans have been kyboshed and this year nurses will do what they do best, make do! There may of course still be a cup of coffee and perhaps even a slice of cake, but these will be enjoyed in smaller, socially distanced groups and during a short tea break at work.
As essential workers nurses at Greenwood Health continued to provide services to the community since New Zealand put in place the bold lockdown measures. They demonstrated flexibility, adaptability and resilience as their usual working spaces, processes, paces and team-mates all changed in a very short space of time. We had nurses working at the practice in new and changed environments, nurses working from home, nurses providing flu clinics at Memorial Hall and nurses involved in the swabbing centre at the Bridge Club and everyone pitched in, doing their bit with nary a complaint.
To all of our Greenwood Health nurses a huge thank you. And from Greenwood Health to all of the nurses across the district, country and the world – thank you. Kia kaha and aroha nui.