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Nurses: Keeping the carein health care

"A celebration of nursesNational Nurses Week begins on May 6, RN Recognition Day, and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of nursing as a modern profession. The American Nurses Association (ANA) and its 53 constituent associations celebrate this national week with the theme, Nurses Keep the Care in Healthcare. Whidbey General Hospital will host a celebration on Thursday, May 11, to honor nurses' contributions to the community and acknowledge what they have achieved in today's healthcare environment. All nurses on Whidbey Island are invited to any of three sessions: 7:30-9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., and 5-7 p.m. There will be refreshments, a sharing of ideas, networking, displays and activities that include support for the nurse: massage therapy, music, art, door prizes and more.Island mayors have also jointly proclaimed the week of May 6 - 12, 2000 as National Nurses Week. Patty Cohen of Oak Harbor, Lloyd Furman of Langley and Nancy Conrad, Coupeville Mayor, have issued a proclamation citing the accomplishments of the registered nursing profession in providing safe and high quality patient care and their role in the ever important component of the United States Health care delivery system in the future. For more information about nursing, visit the ANA Web site at www.nursingworld.org.Often they are almost invisible in the trauma of an ER situation, the anxiety over a baby's high fever, the fear before surgery, or at the moment a patient hears the diagnosis of a deadly disease like cancer.But their competent actions, their sure touch and quiet assurance translate into a web of caring and a memory of nurses that people carry with them long after they leave the hospital ward or the emergency room.During the last several years of my husband's battle with cancer, we spent more time than we would have chosen in doctors' offices and in hospitals, and I witnessed first-hand the tremendous impact that nurses have, not only on their patients, but also on their patients' families. They were warm, friendly and highly professional, and could maintain a sense of humor and compassion in the midst of extremely stressful situations. The words are those of Joan Johnson, a Freeland resident whose husband, before he died, always had to have a new joke to share with his favorite nurses, and loved to brag about his fifth and youngest daughter who announced at age two that she was going to be a nurse (and who is, said her mother, currently enrolled in the nursing program at Pacific Lutheran University).Johnson's are only a small fraction of the memories shared by patients on the occasion of this year's National Nurses Week. Nurses have a unique opportunity to relate to and care for patients during a vulnerable time in a person's life, wrote Clinton nurse Carla Jolley in a piece called The Art of Nursing printed in Whidbey General Hospital's Pulse.Care can be provided in the hospital, in a long-term care setting, or in an outpatient clinic. Nurses can prepare and attend to the patient through surgery, at the physician's office, or in the patient's home. Regardless of the setting, it is the attending to the person and offering comfort to the human body and spirit that is most important.While nurses are faced with the challenge of creating and maintaining a caring environment amid increasingly complex, high volume workloads, they also can experience a lack of community recognition, based not on the quality of their achievements but on their natural unwillingness to look for praise and congratulation.That is why there is a National Nurse's Week. As a profession, we have a tendency not to fully celebrate our accomplishments, said ANA president Mary Foley, MS, RN. National Nurses Week is our golden opportunity to celebrate nursing, its contributions and its contributors.And while nurses are hesitant to talk about their achievements, nearly three-quarters of Americans, 73 percent, put nurses' honesty and ethics at the top of the list, according to a 1999 Gallup Poll, and public esteem for their profession remains extremely high, nearly a century-and-a-half after Florence Nightingale's heroic efforts in the Crimean War first brought attention -- and adulation -- to the work of the nurse.People on South Whidbey have no lack of praise for nurses who have cared for them.Don Goodfellow of Langley went through surgery for colon cancer at Whidbey General, and could say nothing but good things about the nurses there and the care they gave him.I was so impressed, he said. Before the surgery, and even before I got down to the MAC unit, they were fantastic.Goodfellow spent over a week at the hospital, and during that time he said he never found a nurse he didn't like.They seem to really enjoy what they do, he said. And they'd always give you a good hug.It's been a year since Goodfellow's surgery, and even now when he returns for checkups, he is greeted warmly.Most of them still remember me, he said.This is the best hospital I have ever been in, and the nurses were great -- clean, friendly and very helpful, wrote George R. Hooper. The Hoopers live in Everett but are moving soon to the island, with the wonderful hospital they will be so close to, and the exceptional nursing care provided at the hospital. A nursing student named Berry talked about her instructors guidance and willingness to answer so many endless questions.I am especially glad for all I have learned from you about humor and compassion, she said. Each day you give these people a bit of extra strength, a shot of courage and a calmness they all need.Words of gratitude come from other patients:Billie Joanne Franz, ClintonI have had nothing but tender, loving care from all the nurses who have given me shots for the purpose of strengthening my immune system, as I am undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. The nurses are always concerned about how I'm feeling each day, how my energy level is...Daughter of Rachel QuadeThank you for the months and months of care you gave my mother, Rachel Quade. She passed away on Sept. 4. You are such a wonderful and warm group, caring for people under difficult circumstances, overworked yet making time for everyone needing you.Margaret CordnerExcellent care. Thanks for being here."

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