Nurses: True soldiers


Nurses: True soldiers


Sunday, May 17, 2020

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WHILE doctors may be the brains of the medical profession, nurses are surely at the heart.

May 12 is celebrated each year as International Nurses' Day, and if there is one year we cannot overlook our nurses, it is 2020. This is because health and the medical fraternity have faced, in our time, their greatest threat with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and nurses are staying the course.

When social distancing doesn't apply

When everyone is keeping their distance socially, each day nurses suit up and go out — that's bravery. Especially in areas where the virus has snowballed and the operation, as one nurse in New York puts it, “is a daily suicide mission”, this feat is even more telling and heroic.

Doubt and fear naturally surround them, but they tend closely to patients, putting not only themselves but their families at risk for a cause that is larger than life.

Soldiers in the trenches

We are particularly aware of the acute shortage of nurses in Jamaica, in addition to the less-than-adequate resources in some quarters of the island. In fact, the University Hospital of the West Indies, for example, saw close to 100 nurses resigning last year, putting remarkable strain on existing staff. Still, nurses remain in the trenches and work around the globe under immense pressure for extended hours, at times without breaks and days off, especially now amid the pandemic.

Big up, nurses! Also, an equal shout of praise to the 140 Cuban health care professionals who went beyond the call of duty in sacrificing the comfort of their homeland to help Jamaicans curtail the virus.

A mighty battle for lives

While the novel coronavirus has infected some 4.6 million people to date, an encouraging 1.6 million have recovered. As of yesterday morning 121 people in Jamaica had recovered from COVID-19, and we can safely say that our nurses have had a hand in this.

Fallen soldiers we miss you

The numbers have surpassed two hundred worldwide for doctors, nurses and health care agents who have died on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also heard of several Jamaican-born nurses overseas who have fallen victim to the virus. To you, our fallen soldiers, we salute and miss you. We take this opportunity, too, to express our deepest condolences to family members and friends for the selfless work of these true martyrs.

Show these soldiers we care

While nurses undergo their boot camp to protect self and family from the infectious disease, we know that many cases of infections stem, in part, from lack of adequate personal protective gear, given the run on global supplies. Nurses, as front line staff, need protection if they are to protect others, and it is hoped that governments do their best in this regard, in addition to acknowledging their priceless contribution to humanity.

Much, too, devolves upon us to follow health directives that abound so as to reduce the rate of infections and not unnecessarily give health care professionals more than they can actually handle. Proper hygiene, mask wearing and social distancing are three effective weapons at our disposal that will help us to help nurses in their fight against COVID-19, ultimately showing them that we care.

Ours is the hope that, with each passing year, greater significance is accorded to May 12. As we reflect on this year's theme 'A Voice to Lead — Nursing the World to Health', which shows the mammoth task facing the health care consensus and its agents on the front of the battle lines, we say, “Nurses, a big thank you”.

Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 22 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

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