Florence Nightingale, considered to be the founder of modern nursing, was born in 1820, so this year marks the 200th anniversary of her birth. It was considered an important enough event to commemorate, that the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 to be the “Year of the Nurse”. This designation was made long before COVID-19 was even defined as a disease. Had 2020 NOT been called “the year of the nurse” before, it certainly would have been afterward. Although there are and will be many heroes from many professions to honor in this war against our “invisible enemy”, our nurses are the ones who are truly at the interface with each individual patient. Ambulance teams bring them to the hospital, doctors evaluate, diagnose, and order treatment, ancillary staff do their part in testing, diagnosing, coordinating, cleaning, among other tasks, but it is our nurses who are in those patient rooms, identifying the needs of the hour, assessing progress or deterioration, comforting when needed, and communicating with the family and friends, who can no longer even visit in the hospital. It is our ICU nurses who don all the critical personal protection, enter the rooms where the virus is looking for its next prey, and adjust the ventilators, give meds, check the vital signs, and make assessments to convey to the medical team.
On this day, March 30th, hospitals around the country had made plans to also honor its physicians on the annual “Doctors’ Day”. All those special celebrations have been curtailed of course. But it still seems fitting on this March 30th to give a shout out to all those nurses and doctors who are daily literally fighting this war with those affected patients, and risking potential infection themselves, in order to get us through this pandemic with as little loss of life and health as possible. Not all the battles will be won; there will be loss of lives, patients and staff. We pray the losses will be minimal.
I have seen posted on social media requests by doctors and nurses that everyone stay home, so that there will be fewer patients with COVID-19, and oddly enough, that is still the very best gift you can give this day, Doctor’s Day, in the Year of the Nurse. But if you are experiencing any symptoms like dry cough, fever, sore throat, chest pain, or diarrhea, you should contact your doctor’s office by phone for advice. Do not go to the emergency room just because you have some of these symptoms. You should do self-care and self-quarantine until you are feeling better. But if you are having trouble breathing, that’s the time to go. You should wear a mask, and advise them ahead of time of your symptoms. Here is a CDC site with links for determining what to do if you think you are sick.