Pardon the baseness here- but this is simply the same shit, different century.
Every single day of any nurses' career is a day of danger. Covid is just the most in your face at the moment.
Stepping back to the Crimean War in 1854, Florence Nightingale and 38 nurses that she trained herself BTW, cared for thousands of wounded and infected British soldiers in the Scutari barracks. No medicines to treat infections, insufficient supply of bandages, tainted food and water, poor sanitation and atrocious housing conditions. She was exposed to typhus, typhoid, cholera and dysentery. She implemented hand washing and other hygiene standards that significantly reduced deaths. Florence returned from the Crimea with Brucelosis and spondylitis. While bed bound to recover from her illnesses, she analyzed the data she had collected there. She opened the first nursing school in the world in 1860. Her scientific publications on hygiene and hospital planning changed the face of healthcare.
In 1929 America it was a group of 300 African American nurses, known now as the Black Angels, who helped prevent a public health crisis when they cared for tuberculosis patients at a NY TB Sanatorium. Once again, at great risk to their own health.
About 10,000 women, most of them nurses, served in the Vietnam War. Many of them were nurses just out of nursing school with no ICU or trauma training. They endured exposure to wartime aggression, varied infectious diseases and sexual and physical assaults.
In the 1970s I became infected with Hepatitis B from an accidental contaminated needle stick. While administering an intramuscular injection of pain medicine into my teen patient with leukemia, she jumped at the moment the needle was directed into her arm. The needle went through my hand through the web of skin near my thumb and then into her muscle.
In the 1980s, HIV appeared as a great unknown. There were no treatment protocols. Experimental treatments were costly and not accessible to many. I was working at a pediatric hospital that began accepting HIV infected teens from a juvenile detention center as they could no longer be housed in detentions' general population. Us nurses were unprepared to address the behavioral challenges this population of teens presented. As our hospital facility was located in a rural setting there were numerous times when the teens escaped. We, the nurses, were expected to get into the hospital van and drive around the country side to find and apprehend these escapees. Usually the county sheriffs office got there first as they received calls about home invasions or stolen cars. If we did find them, the teens' strategy was to bite their tongues and spit blood in our faces. When we demanded PPE for use dealing with these patients, we were told there were no funds for PPE in the hospital budget.
I resigned my position that day. With two small children at home, the risk for me was too great.
Now here we are in 2020 with a highly contagious pathogen amongst us. Nurses demanding PPE are told to make do with unsafe reused equipment, cloth masks or none at all. We are rigorously trained in science based infection control. We know this lack of essential PPE is dangerous to us, our families, coworkers and patients.
It's bullshit workplace safety.
The American Hospital Association, OSHA and 'our federal government' coronavirus taskforce have nurses blood on their hands. Preventable deaths. Preventable. But for the cost of a mask.
Thank God for Dr. Fauci.
We become Nurses to provide highly skilled compassionate care. We lean into suffering and sadness. We stand at the bed side of the dying and escort them to their final exhalation with dignity and respect.
We do not give our lives to be a nurse, we give our hearts.
Today's' Modern Nurses have a weapon and are using it- their voices on social media. The paradigm is shifting. The culture of nursing is in a process of death and rebirth. The story of our hollowed out public health care system by intentional underfunding is costing nurses their lives. Nurses are organizing and speaking out. The horrific toll of covid deaths in our fallen nurse brothers and sisters around the world will ensure our demands for a safe workplace will not be ignored. National Nurses United and American Holistic Nurses Association, among others, are performing due diligence and arming us with the truth.
Nurses are highly trained in science and compassionate care. Every year since 2001 we have been ranked highest in the Gallup poll as the most Honest /Ethical profession.
This is the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. We will make it count. We will be heard.