Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) is perhaps most remembered for her work in the Crimean War where she served as a trainer of nurses and organizer of care—where she became known as “The Lady with the Lamp” for her near constant nighttime rounds of wounded soldiers. Perhaps more importantly, in 1860 Florence Nightingale established the nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, and with it, is credited as also establishing the practice of modern nursing.
National Nurses Week
This year, as with every year since 1990, the American Nurses Association, hospitals and communities across the country recognize Florence Nightingale’s legacy and the dedication and hard work of nurses around the world with National Nurses Week, which starts on May 6th and ends on May 12th—Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
2020, in particular, is notable for two reasons. First, this year marks the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Second, and more importantly, nurses this year are on the frontlines on the coronavirus pandemic, battling a disease that, as of May 3rd, had infected at least 3,449,986, and taken the lives of 244,239 people worldwide.1
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse and Midwife.” According to the WHO “Nurses and midwives account for nearly 50% of the global health workforce…[and] play a critical role in health promotion, disease prevention and delivering primary and community care. They provide care in emergency settings and will be key to the achievement of universal health coverage.”2
A challenging time to be a nurse
Many will have read the stories about nurses from around the country traveling to other states and leaving their homes and families to provide additional care to overwhelmed hospitals in hard hit cities like New York.3 Many will also have read about the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) that healthcare workers have faced while providing care to patients with COVID-19—about nurses having to make or reuse masks or gloves. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between February 12th and April 9th more than 9,000 healthcare workers in the United States contracted the coronavirus, and at least 27 have died.
Coming together at Door County Medical Center
Despite these challenging times, nurses continue to rise to the occasion, walking toward the dangers presented by the coronavirus because they love what they do—because they love helping and healing people. “I have always wanted to be a nurse. I have always felt like it was my calling. I am fascinated with the human body and how intricately it is designed. And I love to help people!” says Rachel Mallien, RN ICU at DCMC. DCMC’s Tori Sims (LPN, Clinic) remarks that while it took her a while to find her path, “I always knew I wanted to help people. I don’t know when I chose nursing or how I chose it as my career, but I’m so happy I did. I wish everyone could feel the way I do when I can make a patient smile or laugh or feel better,” adding, “The most difficult part about being a nurse is trying not to take it home with you after a long day. Because I really care about all my patients and my career, it’s hard for me not to take all those feelings home…but the good outweighs the bad. There are so many rewarding parts of being a nurse it’s hard to choose which is the most rewarding. For me, if I can be that person that holds a hand, or makes someone feel more comfortable in the hospital, then I feel I’m doing my job right.”
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic DCMC’s nurses have been preparing for the eventuality of a surge of COVID-19 cases in Door County. “The dedication from the organization has been incredible,” remarks Jaimie Yunk, LPN, Clinic at DCMC, “There are people cross-training in areas that they are not particularly comfortable with. For example, the clinic staff training in the hospital or going to the Skilled Nursing Facility, the staff from the Medical Surgical Unit being trained in the Intensive Care Unit, and the countless hours that the staff has worked to help meet CDC requirements.” DCMC’s Veronica Behme (RN, Clinic) adds that while cross-training, “I have been very inspired by how welcoming staff in the different areas of the hospital have been—how willing staff members have been to be trained to serve anywhere they’re needed. I do think that situations like this often bring out the best in people.”
Now, with 15 reported cases of the coronavirus, 3 deaths, and evidence of community spread in Door County, DCMC’s nursing staff is seeing support not just from within its ranks, but also from the Door County community at large. “I have been encouraged and overwhelmed by the support I personally have received from my church, the hospital, and my community,” Rachel Mallien comments, “People have been checking in on me, donating meals to the nursing staff at the hospital—thanks Grandma Dorothy!!—and offering to do my grocery shopping.” DCMC’s Stacy Jacquet (RN, Care Management) adds that it’s been inspiring to watch “community members come together to help out others: the Sister Bay Coalition; Sonny’s Pizzeria, which is providing lunches for kids; Pick-N-Save offering certain hours for senior citizens. I’ve seen postings of inspiring songs, of inspirational quotes and prayers—that shows me we are all in this together and working as a team to get through it.” Veronica Behme points to an Amish proverb that nicely sums up the feeling of support she feels coming from both the hospital staff and the community: “Very few burdens are heavy if everyone lifts.”
“Nursing is not just caring for one individual; it includes families, groups, communities, and populations,” Stacy Jacquet points out, “Part of our nursing code of ethics is ‘…protection, promotion, and restoration of health and well-being; the prevention of illness and injury, and the alleviation of suffering.’ Nurses are a part of every stage of getting through a health crisis, from the beginning all the way to the end.”
Door County Medical Center is currently hiring nurses! If you are interested in joining our incredible nursing team, please visit our careers page at: https://www.dcmedical.org/careers. If you or anyone you know is interested supporting our nursing staff as they “fight against COVID-19,” please visit: https://www.dcmedical.org/coronavirus/donate.
- Numbers provided by Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/.