This year we commemorate National Nurses Week from May 6-12 in a solemn spirit. We remember friends and colleagues who have died on the front lines of the enduring battle against Covid-19. We honor the courage and commitment of our nurses who report to work daily at great risk to their health.
There is good cause to celebrate our work. Here in New York, 58,950 patients, hospitalized with the COVID-19 infection, recovered.
Our fight for adequate PPE — and for all that's needed to protect ourselves and our patients — resonates in New York and around the country.
Standing firm in our determination
However, we cannot say enough about our government's lack of preparedness. There has been a lack of transparency overall, which allows for the substitution of politics for science, fiction over fact. We will stand firm in our determination to address these critical shortfalls.
We look to the legacy of Florence Nightingale, one of the earliest pioneers of modern medicine, for inspiration as we continue our battle to set national priorities in the face of COVID-19, the world's deadliest pandemic in more than a century. May 12 marks Nightingale’s 200th birthday. It is appropriate that we remember her work.
“The Lady With the Lamp”
Nightingale made it her mission to practice medicine during war and peace, serving rich and poor alike. Fearless and innovative, she earned the title “The Lady With the Lamp” on the frontlines of the Crimean War. In 1860, she opened the world’s first professional nursing school at St. Thomas Hospital, London, where she documented and facilitated the best medical practices of her day. That same year, Nightingale introduced trained nurses to the workhouse system. She utilized keen observational skills and her gifts as a mathematician to campaign for improved sanitary practices in India as a hedge against the high death rate caused by “bad drainage, contaminated water, overcrowding and poor ventilation.”
As we continue our fight against Coronavirus, we honor Florence Nightingale’s spirit. We bring our considerable knowledge, resources and training to defend the sick and dying against an illness that does not discriminate by race, class, or country of birth.
Like Nightingale, as practitioners of state of the art medicine, we assert our right to a place at the table.
We have a right to know every detail of the battle.
We have a right to a seat where key strategy is reviewed, determined, and resources committed.
We have a right to demand that healthcare resources be allocated according to patient need and not to the highest bidder.
The inequalities that defined healthcare prior to COVID-19 are exacerbated by today's crisis.
Nurses will not stand for that.
We will continue to save patients in the weeks and months ahead, insisting that efforts to reduce staff exposure be maintained and our hospitals be better equipped.
We are making our voices heard.