At the beginning of the hour-long weekly Covid-19 town hall she anchors weekly live by video from the city council’s chambers, Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland today went to a message she’d just recorded to honor local nurses.
“I want to say thank you for the sacrifices you have made and continue to make on a daily basis for the health and welfare of our community,” Holland said. “Our health care workers are truly the lifeline of this community, and this is an especially crucial moment for our nurses, who are away from their families. We know the stress you and your families are under is extraordinary, and you continue to provide incredible care. That’s what makes you a nurse. Many of our residents fall into a higher risk category for Covid-19, which makes the work you’re all doing even more critical. Know that Palm Coast is eternally grateful for all of you. We stand behind you each and every day, and we continue to support you as we all navigate these unprecedented times. Thank you from all of us at the City of Palm Coast.”
The occasion: The Flagler Health Department is joining Palm Coast and thousands of organizations across the country in celebrating National Nurses Week starting today and through From May 6 through May 12. National Nurses Day is today, and May 12 is the birth date of Florence Nightingale in 1820. Nightingale had once written to herself that she craved “a profession, a trade, a necessary occupation, something to fill & employ all my faculties.” She studied up on nursing. Her family objected. She wasn’t starving. She shouldn’t work, they told her, reflecting prejudices of the times that extended to nurses, who were believed to be dissolute.
At age 33 she finally convinced her father to let her work as a nurse at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances in London. Not much later she was dispatched to Crimea, where she made her name as “The Lady With the Lamp” and became as emblematic of the nursing profession as the caduceus is of medicine. Several attempts to get presidents or Congress to recognize nurses failed until Richard Nixon issued the first such proclamation, and Congress declared May 6 as as “National Recognition Day for Nurses” in 1982. The day and the week have gained more prominence since.
Palm Coast and Flagler County are training grounds for nurses, through the Daytona State College’s nursing programs and other programs a bit further afield. But this yea’s commemoration bears more weight and purpose because of the pandemic.
“Now, more than ever and particularly in the face of a global pandemic,” the department said in a statement issued today, “nurses demonstrate a passion and commitment to care for others in their greatest times of need. They are the compassionate faces at the bedside and the healing hands that work tirelessly to ensure that each patient, adult or child, receives safe, quality health care.
“From assisting with life-threatening ER crises to delivering babies and caring for the elderly in their last moments, nurses perform some of the most difficult and heartbreaking tasks in the medical world. National Nurses Week honors their contributions and sacrifices and reminds us to appreciate the medical professionals who help us keep healthy.”
“I am grateful to work with an outstanding team of public health nurses who provide valuable services to Flagler County residents every day,” said Bob Snyder, who heads the local health department. “Led by our nursing director Bonnie Welter, our nurses take great pride in their work by demonstrating care and compassion for Flagler County residents. I am proud to be associated with them and ask everyone to join me by honoring the nurses practicing in Flagler County.”
In the public health setting, nurses work in clinics to provide immunizations, conduct testing for diseases and infections, help people manage chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma and inspire patients to lead healthier lives. In Flagler County, DOH nurses also focus on women’s health and prenatal services; immunizations for children and adults; communicable disease monitoring treatment and case management (including HIV); diabetes prevention and management; and coordination of school health services.
According to Snyder, the nursing department’s focus recently shifted from public health to the local emergency response to Covid-19.
“Everyone, including our nursing staff, has been pulling double duty to respond to this crisis,” he said. “We’ve repurposed and cross-trained employees to help with testing and contact tracing, while we’ve also secured retired and furloughed nurses as volunteers to monitor positive cases and visit congregate care facilities. Since we are touching base with all 71 of these facilities in our community, we also have near-term assistance from infection protection strike teams from all over the country. These volunteers and our staff are playing critical roles in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in Flagler County. We owe them our gratitude.”
For the 18th year in a row, the Gallup Poll found that Americans rated nurses as the most trusted, honest and ethical professionals.
I have the highest appreciation for every nurse, medical stuff and doctors, and they deserve highest appreciation for their work every day!! BUT, please, do not use the occasion of honoring our nurses, to pretend we had a pandemic the nurses were fighting in Flagler County. WE did not have a pandemic, far from it. The hospitals and doctors offices closed to the exclusion of only treating Covid 19 patients, and all other health issues people are suffering were put on the back burner by the mayor’s orders. The Hippocratic Oath was suspended during the perceived pandemic. Over the course of the next few months, maybe years, we will find out about the real toll the pandemic measures took on the people of Palm Coast, the lives ruined, kids health put in danger by subjecting them to quarantine for weeks, in total disregard for any opposing views of how this Covid 19 occurrence should be handled.