April 22, 2013
In 1857, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem titled Santa Filomena, in which he described how a young woman watched over the patients in the army hospital at night, alone and carrying a lamp. "In that hour of misery, a Lady with a lamp I see ..."
Those words not only immortalized Florence Nightingale, but also the profession she was practicing during the Crimean War—nursing. After returning from that war in 1856, she worked as a leader of the movement to reduce sickness and poverty in Britain. She became a public health adviser to governments all around the world. Though many believe otherwise,
Nightingale did not invent nursing; there were already female nurses in British hospitals before 1856. But what she did do was to make it safe for single women to be employed as nurses. In fact, in 1860 she established the first secular nursing school in the world at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, which opened new career opportunities for middle-class women, and improved the quality and quantity of female nurses.
Nightingale died in 1910 and was buried in the churchyard in England. But her legacy lives on with each graduating class of nursing students.
To recognize the many contributions of the profession, Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proposal to U.S. President Eisenhower asking him to proclaim a special day for nurses. There was no proclamation rendered. However, later that year, National Nurses’ Week was observed marking the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's mission to Crimea.
In 1974, after the proclamation by the International Council of Nurses that May 12, would be ‘International Nurse Day,’ President Nixon designated a week as ‘National Nurse Week.’
Eight years later, the American Nurses Association board of directors, in a joint resolution with the United States Congress, designated May 6, to be ‘National Recognition Day for Nurses.’ President Reagan then signed this proposal.
This day was expanded to a week (May 6-12) in 1990. The week begins on May 6, with the ‘National Recognition Day for Nurses’ and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.
“Nurses’ Week was created to honor the nurses that give care to millions of patients each day of the year,” says Susan Watson, RN, MSN, NE-BC, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Bronson Battle Creek. “It’s certainly no surprise that the public continuously rates nursing as one of the most respected professions. Nurses’ healing hands and vigilant attention to their patients’ needs nurture the human spirit. And while complimentary words are not adequate in expressing the gratitude of patients for their kindness and countless, selfless deeds throughout the year, BBC can and does extend our heartfelt thanks annually during Nurses’ Week.”
Bronson Battle Creek is a 218-bed hospital that provides full outpatient and inpatient acute care including robotic surgery, diagnostics, and rehabilitation services; 100% all private rooms. It also offers world-class diagnostic capabilities including PET/CT imaging, freestanding ‘open’ and traditional MRI, CT (16- and 64-slice), and 3.0 Tesla MRI. Bronson Battle Creek has been recognized nationally as one of the safest hospitals, and has been a leader in the development of electronic health records as evidenced by multiple honors as one of America’s ‘most wired’ and ‘most wireless’ hospitals. The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons recognizes the Bronson Battle Creek Cancer Care Center as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, and the only hospital in Michigan to receive the CoC’s Outstanding Achievement Award three times in a row. Specialty services include inpatient behavioral health, the county’s largest accredited sleep center, and a wound-healing center with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. For nine years, Bronson Healthcare has been included on Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies list as a leading family friendly employer.