If ‘The Lady With the Lamp’ Could See Nurses Now

Nurses rising up, doing what they were trained to do

From Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC

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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses at Cleveland Clinic and across the globe are rising to the occasion – standing strong and united, resiliently persevering and swiftly and decisively taking action as they clearly demonstrate why they chose the profession of nursing.

During this time of crisis, nurses are shining front and center doing exactly what they were trained to do. And, the core of that training stems from the foundational skills and philosophy first taught by the founder of modern nursing, the legendary Florence Nightingale.

If only ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ could see nurses now. Celebrated in part for her leading efforts during the Crimean War in the mid-to-late 1850s, no doubt, Nightingale would be impressed with how the nursing profession immediately moved into motion banning together to fight today’s ‘war’ against COVID-19.

Five months ago, as we prepared to embrace the milestone ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife’ in Nightingale’s honor we were unaware of the unprecedented challenges ahead.

Today, as we look forward to National Nurses Week, which will be recognized throughout May as ‘Nurses Month’ in 2020, I can’t think of a more appropriate way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birth than through the remarkable display of nursing service, commitment and excellence that is presently occurring. This is truly the best birthday gift the profession of nursing could give to honor Florence Nightingale.

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Nurses on the COVID-19 frontlines

Day and night, nurses and their countless contributions are at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses are showcasing the power of exceptional nursing – reassuring patients, families, communities and each other of their unwavering resiliency and compassionate, empathetic and supportive care.

Across Cleveland Clinic health system, nurses are consistently adapting to the evolving situation. They have expanded their skillsets. They are increasingly using telehealth technology to communicate with patients. Nursing teams remain flexible and agile. Nursing leadership has strategically enhanced the labor pool and enterprise staffing efforts to mobilized resources to best care for areas in high need. Senior nurse education leaders and clinical nurse educators are working diligently with ambulatory and perioperative nurses, nurses in non-patient facing roles, and local nursing school faculty to prepare for future surges of patients and the increased need of acute care nurses. And, not a surprise, we immediately heard from and have activated our retired nurses.

Additionally, in Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 patient care areas, nurses are continuously innovating to deliver patients the best care possible.

For example, Cleveland Clinic nurses in Florida and Ohio recently partnered to create and implement a new standardized practice for COVID-19 patient IV pumps. In less than 5 days, these nurses developed and rolled-out comprehensive nursing practice and safety guidelines for keeping COVID-19 patient IV pumps outside of patient rooms.

Partnering with Cleveland Clinic Supply Chain, IV medication infusions are now equipped with extension tubing that is compatible with the primary tubing. Adding the extension tubing allows nurses to access pumps without the need to enter the patient’s room each time an alert goes off. Nurses are able to efficiently change IV medications and more while reducing potential caregiver exposure and conserving PPE. The new practice guidelines ensure IV tubing remains off the floor and that nurses address IV pump needs while bundling in-room patient care activities.

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Celebrate and recognize nurses this week, this month, this year

Every day, extraordinary measures of patient care and success stories like these are occurring throughout the nursing profession. While we may not be able to celebrate nursing caregivers through traditional in-person events and activities this Nurses Week, there are many ways to virtually and electronically recognize the incredible work of nurses. Nurses Week 2020 is sure to be nothing short of an innovative and exceptional celebration!

Additionally, as we celebrate our profession and successes, let us also be reminded of the pledge we made to provide respectful, humane and dignified care. Nightingale believed that a nurse’s ethical duty was first and foremost to care for the patient. As we continue our ethical standard of practice, let’s also proudly take this opportunity to reaffirm and recommit to our professional Code of Ethics (The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements).

I am proud and honored to be a nurse and, without doubt, I know you are too. Happy Nurses Week, Nurses Month, and Year of the Nurse and Midwife!