(PRESS RELEASE) – Tuesday, April 7, 2020 is celebrated as World Health Day using the tagline “Support nurses and midwives.”
We use this platform to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives and remind persons of the critical role that we play in keeping the world healthy. Today, we honor the contribution of nurses and take this opportunity to highlight the work of nurses and celebrate this profession as one of the most valuable resources in this country.
The Region of the Americas has about 9 million nurses, 87% of them women. Nurses and midwives account for more than 50% of the health workforce and are essential to the delivery of health services at the first level of care.
Prior to this unforeseen pandemic, the World Health Organization designated the year 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse and Midwife.” Three months ago, if someone had asked me what “The Year of the Nurse” meant to me, I would have answered, “It means a year to celebrate the achievements and transformation of the profession over the last 200 years.”
But COVID-19 has brought new meaning to this year. It now signifies survival, unity, teamwork and strength! And it seems our medical vocabulary has been reduced to flu like symptoms, travel history, personal protective equipment, isolation, quarantine and contact tracing!
The high rate of infections and death among nurses and other health care providers globally is a serious concern.
However, our nurses continue to sacrifice their health in the battle to combat COVID-19.
Nurses and other health workers are at the frontline of the COVID-19 response – providing care, treatment, contact tracing, and leading community dialogue to address fears and questions. Nurses and midwives have a special relationship with their patients that is based on trust. They also know the culture of their communities, making them indispensable during an outbreak or emergency such as this one.
As nurses, we are all called to service and we have an obligation to administer care to those in need even in an outbreak.
However, over the last two months, I have never witnessed teamwork so powerful. In more recent weeks, nurses led the move from the Victoria Hospital to Owen King European Union Hospital, we transformed three hotels into quarantine sites in one day with 24 hour operations. At that same time, Victoria Hospital was being transformed to a respiratory clinic and yet nurses were also in the communities trying to get every possible contact of positive cases to protect the public. I watched coworkers, colleagues and teammates demonstrate more compassion and dedication than I’ve seen in my professional life. But most importantly, I observed the ultimate commitment and bravery to face the unknown. Risking their own lives to save others, putting aside their own fears and insecurities. They inspire all of us with their heroic dedication and sacrifice.
And so, today, moving forward, I call on St. Lucians to show some appreciation and gratitude to those who continue to fight this COVID-19 war on the frontline.
There are nurses that you know, perhaps they are caring for you now, perhaps they may have cared for you in the past, let us applaud them, pray for them, encourage them, and give them some words of motivation. Show some sort of appreciation and thank them in whatever means you chose– with the hope that this sincere gratitude will translate into the tangible support they require and deserve.
Also please protect us, by protecting yourselves. Please adhere to all the guidelines that have been shared from the Ministry of Health. Practice good hand hygiene, maintain social distancing and remain indoors.
Our nurses are depending on you to do what is expected of you so that together we can conquer this war!