In recognition of Nurses’ Week, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Retired Nurses Association (SVGRNA) is saluting nurses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and around the world who are on the frontlines of the battle against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Nurses Week is celebrated around the world from May 6 – 12, with the commemoration of International Nurses Day on May 12.
May 12 is also recognized as the 200th birthday of the iconic Florence Nightengale.
“We salute all nurses, especially those on the COVID-19 frontlines for their dedication to the profession, the sacrifices made to the preservation of health and life, and we honor them for their suffering and forbearance as they deal with the staggering numbers of illnesses and deaths in such a short period of time,” said Advira Providence, SVGRNA president, in a statement on Sunday.
She also said that “it is important to remember that the practices and guidelines that modern nursing practice follow today is due to Nightengale’s “dedicated work,” stating that the practice of regular hand-washing that is widely recommended to help stop the spread of the coronavirus today was “implemented and rigorously promoted” by Nightengale “as a means to reduce the spread of infection.”
“When the International Council of Nurses in collaboration with the World Health Organization launched the ‘Nursing Now’ campaign, and designated the year 2020 as the year of the nurse and midwife, no one realized how meaningful this would become, as the COVID-19 pandemic was not on the horizon.,” said Providence, a former president of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Nurses Association of New York, Inc.
“We became aware of it some time in February; and, since then, it has swiftly and aggressively taken over the world, becoming the first pandemic in most people’s lifetime, killing thousands and seriously impacting the nurses on the frontlines,” she added.
As the novel coronavirus ravages the world, she said many nurses find themselves on the frontlines of this “war”, “being involved in testing of persons, contact tracing, working in Isolation, Intensive Care Units, and Nursing Homes, bringing them in direct contact with persons affected with the virus. The risk is great!”
Providence noted that nurses leave their homes and families for days or even weeks, communicating with their children and families via Face Time, and other media, stating that “sadly, some never return to them.”
She said working as a nurse “carries with it serious risks that many overlooked, as they moved towards the frontlines with passion in their hearts, exercising their calling to fight this invisible enemy, COVID-19, the novel corona virus.”
Providence said that the risk of spreading this virus is so high that family members are not allowed to visit or be at the bedside of their loved ones, with many dying alone.
She said nurses are using their phones to ensure family members can contact their loved ones to say goodbye.
“They are carrying out their duties while holding hands, praying with, singing and comforting their patients,” she said. “All this they do while sometimes working without the protective clothing and equipment they need to be safe.”
Providence said many nurses and other healthcare workers have lost their lives, and that some find themselves in “the very heartbreaking position of having to care for sick and dying colleagues.”
“As they work together, they do not know who will be the next to fall victim to this deadly virus,” she lamented.
But, despite this, she said “nurses are answering the call to be on the frontlines around the world and many more far from home.”
“As we commemorate this week, we are reminded that we are a profession that assumes responsibility for the continuous care of the sick, the injured, the disabled and the dying,” said Providence, adding that “we take this responsibility seriously.”
She said nursing is also responsible for the promotion of health in the communities, in families and individuals.
“As retired nurses, we are concerned for those on the frontlines in SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and elsewhere,” Providence said. “To all Vincentians, we are encouraging you to adhere to the recommendations of the National COVID-19 Task Force.
“We are also asking you to be your brothers’ and sisters’ keeper,” she added. “Look out for your neighbors and those in high risk categories – the elderly, the sick, shut-ins, the disabled and the non-compliant.
In addition, SVGRNA is asking members of the public to protect themselves, strongly recommending that they wear a mask when going out in public and to maintain physical distancing.
“Wash your hands with soap and water, utilizing friction for 20 seconds as advised, and maintain social contacts with friends and families via telephone and other media,” Providence urged. “Stay home if you are able to, stay safe and make things easier for the nursing staff and other health care personnel.
“We encourage all nursing staff to remain calm and focused, as we weather through this COVID-19 pandemic,” she added. “2020 is, indeed, the year of the nurse.”