Celebrating Nightingale 2020 Bicentenary

Florence Nightingale 200 years


Nurses Are Not Widgets!

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If ever there was a time to challenge protocols and practices with the employer it is now. ONA has been successful in April of this year with the supreme court challenge on what defines appropriate PPE and infection control standards. 

It is a point of care risk assessment that determines which PPE is required not management. Work with your H&S committee and speak up.

Have your voice heard!

Nursing Leaders in the Congo celebrating Nightingale’s Legacy

Prince William Opens Nightingale Hospital  

The Duke of Cambridge has officially opened an NHS Nightingale temporary hospital in the outskirts of Birmingham.

Another 8 temporary hospitals have been recently opened and called Nightingale. What an honour to recognize Nightingale with this gesture.

Florence Nightingale’s expertise on infectious diseases: any application to the coronavirus pandemic? by Lynn McDonald

This article was sent to the RNAO Journal to be published April 4, 2020

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was an early and persistent advocate of the best means to prevent the spread of infectious diseases—frequent handwashing—calling for it in her 1860 Notes on Nursing, and adding details on the use of disinfectants in later writing. She was a pioneer of evidence-based health care, from the lessons learned from the high mortality rates of the Crimean War (1854-56).

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was an early and persistent advocate of the best means to combat the spread of infectious diseases—frequent handwashing— calling for it in her 1860 Notes on Nursing, and adding details on the use of disinfectants in later writing.

She was a pioneer of evidence-based health care, from the lessons learned from the high-mortality Crimean War (1854-56).
The National Health Service in England is planning for five temporary hospitals for COVID-19 patients, one now opened in London’s Docklands, four still under construction, ranging from 100 to 4000 (possible) beds.

They have all been given the name NHS Nightingale Hospital, in recognizing the relevance of the work of Florence Nightingale to this emergency. Nightingale’s own Crimean War Barrack Hospital had 4000 beds in 1854 and was then the largest in the world. It had high death rates, which were brought down dramatically by the introduction of strict sanitary measures. She herself documented the decline in deaths in a comprehensive analysis after the war. She is accordingly recognized as a pioneer in evidence-based health care.

There are great parallels between the infectious diseases of Nightingale’s day and the coronavirus of ours. There was no vaccine or effective treatment for the great fevers and bowel diseases of her day, nor are there for COVID-19 now. Health care workers help the patient through the crisis, now with respirators, and there is (when available) better protective equipment for them. Prevention is key.
Nightingale was an early and persistent advocate of frequent handwashing, from her 1860 Notes on Nursing¸ to later writing which gave precise solutions of disinfectants to use for different purposes.

She and her fellow health care reformers pressed for, and got, greatly improved standards for hospitals, army barracks and public places. Safer hospitals were built and ventilation and cleanliness improved in existing ones.
That these measures worked can be seen in the declines in the number of hospital beds the British Army needed and their hospital death rates. The vast army hospital that was built after the war, at Netley on the south coast of England, was over-built, its number of beds based on the usual pre-Crimea percentage. That hospital was not filled to capacity until the Boer War of 1899-1902, more than 30 years after it opened.

Will the lessons of this coronavirus pandemic be learned? It happens that different countries/states have adopted different measures of prevention, from thorough lockdown to mere voluntary social distancing. The amount of testing done has also varied enormously from substantial numbers to only the worst cases. Thus, like it or not, the elements of an experiment are in place. What gets the best results– the lowest number of deaths per population?

This pandemic is likely to carry on for some time, and/or return in later waves. We need medical experts to find an effective vaccine and methods of treatment. As well, especially while waiting for such developments, we need Nightingale-type researchers to assess the success (or not) of the various measures used to limit that spread.

Lynn McDonald

Meena’s thoughts on the Covid -19 virus  

Meena from Texas has joined us as a roving contributor and we look forward to her unique insight.

COVID-19, or novel Coronavirus, has been spreading rapidly, infecting approximately 2 million people, fatal to thousands more. It has changed our lives, separating us from the ones we love temporarily, or taking them from us forever. It has caused us to distance ourselves, stopping us from enjoying some of the things we love most. It has changed the way we look at the world, change the way we take things for granted in life. It’s strange to think about how one small accident can change our world so much. There are some precautions that we can take to help both ourselves and the people around us, especially the heroes who work tirelessly during these times. Supermarket employees must deal with hundreds of customers, if not more, each and every day. Researchers working day and night to produce a vaccine. Doctors and nurses working endless hours, risking their lives, taking care of patient after patient. They must go through so many heartbreaking moments, where a person simply will not be able to live, and equipment is scarce, so all they can do is let them pass away. Fortunately, there are many actions we can do to help out.

An example of a larger organization helping out is that in my hometown of Sugar Land, Texas, the United Memorial Medical Center (a hospital) is hosting free, drive-through COVID-19 testing at the Smart Financial Centre (a performance venue) for anyone who wants it. Also, in my hometown, teachers from my school drove hosted a car parade, where they drove through the neighborhood and greeted their students through their car, to help them feel better through these times. Many families, including mine, are dealing with this epidemic by staying inside, and only going outside for groceries or when absolutely necessary.

First, follow all the basic rules; prevention is the best protection. Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand soap, cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or bent elbow when you cough or sneeze, avoid close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell, Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell, and don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean. They may seem obvious, but they really do make a difference.

Second, do not purchase more supplies than needed. Mass-buying toilet paper won’t help – COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, not a gastrointestinal one – and neither will be buying all the hand sanitizer in the store. Many people in need of these supplies might not have access to these items, and taking them all certainly won’t help. On this subject, another thing many people don’t know is not to buy food items that are labeled “WIC”. This stands for “Women, Infants, and Children,” whom they are reserved for, especially for low-income families.

COVID-19 has changed us and separated us from each other, isolating us from the rest of society. But, at the same time, it has brought us together in ways beyond imaginable. We have learned to ignore all the differences we may have, to work towards what really matters – fighting this epidemic, and ending its reign – once and for all.

Meenakshi Sivanandam
Age: 11 years old.

Introducing Meenakshi Sivanandam a young advocate and student from Texas USA.

Meenakshi is an 11 years old student and writes with such passion about Florence Nightingale – we commend her! She has written an introduction for our website about what inspired her – included is a link to her well researched paper. Take a look!

I greatly cherish this opportunity, and I chose this topic because I wanted to reveal how Florence Nightingale captured the imaginations and sparked the inspiration of thousands of people across the globe. I want to truly recognize Florence Nightingale for all of her life’s tireless efforts, dedicated to creating a heathier world, and shaping nursing into the honorable and respectable position that it is today.

Even after she tragically passed away due to the Crimean Fever, “The Lady with the Lamp” is commemorated in numerous ways for her work, such as songs, poems, and even the holiday International Nurses Day, which is celebrated on her birthday each year, every May 12. In fact, since Nightingale was born in 1820, this year is her 2020 Bicentenary. Throughout the year, she will be honored in various events, so be on the lookout! 

Nightingale was a pioneer in nursing, who transformed it into a methodical, systematic position to be pursued by all people. A lady of upper class herself, she proved that nursing was a profession that could be taken up by all classes, not just lower ones. Nightingale broke barriers of class by being one of the first upper-class people to be a nurse. even after the caste system was demolished, 200 years later, Florence Nightingale’s legacy lives on, as her story continues to spark inspiration in thousands of people, laying down the foundation of nursing as we know it today.

Meenakshi Sivanandam
Age: 11 years old.

See Meenakshi’s full essay here:  https://meenakshisivanandam.com/florence-nightingale-break-barrier-history/

Eleanor Adarna as H&S site rep continues to support her members at UHN through this difficult time around safety and PPE issues

What can I say about today’s Covid-19 climate?

Now, more than ever, we need to pay attention to everything we do, so we can keep ourselves safe, our families safe, our colleagues and our patients safe. It is important that as health care workers we perform “Point of Care Risk Assessments” for every patient interaction so we can wear the proper PPE that will keep us safe.

Once again we are called to the “front line” to do the work we pledge to do, so we need to be smart, to pay attention, and take care of each other.

Be Strong, Work Together and Be Safe.


Article on Eleanor previously addressing her recognition at H&S safety dinner in fall 2018 and write up in Jan Frontlines 2019 may be revisited in the following link: OMA Frontlines Feb/Mar 2019

For More Information Contact:

Anne Clark RN

Carolyn Edgar RN

Cristina Buco RN

Eleanor Adarna RN