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SVG Retired Nurses Association pays tribute to nurses

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“For we who nurse, our nursing is something which, unless we are making progress every year, every month, every week, we are going back. No system shall endure which does not march.” – Florence Nightingale

There is little doubt that the nursing profession has marched and grown, as Nightingale, the iconic mother of modern nursing, said it must. From the beginnings of her dedication to a vocation once frowned upon, to its status as one of the most treasured and trusted in the world. In 1971, the International Council of Nursing (ICN) designated May 12 – Florence Nightingale’s birthday – as International Nurses Day.{{more}}

Nightingale is best known around the world as the “Lady with the Lamp” who nursed British soldiers during the Crimean War. But she was also much more than that. She was an activist, social theorist and author whose advocacy to improve health and sanitation for British Army soldiers, and writings on hospital planning and organization laid the foundation for nursing’s emphasis on social determinants of health today.

Nursing Week gives nurses across the world the chance to celebrate one another’s work and to keep Nightingale’s work alive by advocating for policies that keep people healthy, in both mind and body.

This year’s theme, “Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective,” I take as a challenge, since we know that change requires a great deal of energy and emotion. At the heart of the matter is the way we experience and respond to change. We sometimes are reluctant to let go of familiar things in favour of new approaches and unfamiliar ideas. There is a need for us to know where we are going and how we are going to get there, and when the ground begins to shift under our feet, we lose confidence and find it challenging to remain effective.

However, nurses are resilient and are capable of producing amazing positive outcomes. We love to rise to a challenge and derive satisfaction from succeeding against the odds. One such example is the recent move of the Mental Health Hospital to Orange Hill. I pay tribute to the nursing administration, the nurses and all other staff at this time.

I wish to highlight two retired nurses who gave us so much pleasure when we visited recently.

Cornice Edwards-Sprott was born in Coulls Hill on May 26, 1927. She attended the Westwood Primary School, started teaching at the age of 14, and entered nursing at 18 years old. Sister (Sr) Sprott remembers that at the time the Matron, Ms Beache, was very hard on persons of darker complexion, but this did not deter her from fulfilling her goal to become a nurse.

Shortly after she completed her nursing/midwifery training she migrated to Curacao and worked as a baby nurse. She then married and had three sons. After the birth of her last son, Sr Sprott returned home and was re-employed as a nurse at the Colonial Hospital, now the Milton Cato General Hospital. She was the first nurse to attain the title of Senior Nursing Officer, where she remained until her retirement at age 60. Sr Sprott asserts that she served the nation well; many nurses were mentored by her and she is satisfied with all that was accomplished.

Sr Sprott has had some recent health challenges, yet continues to praise her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. She is a member of the Faith Temple Church and says she misses attendance at Sunday morning worship.

Stacey Peters-McKie was born on 20th March, 1926 in Bequia. She commenced nursing training at 18 years old and subsequently became a trained midwife and loved it. She nursed patients with typhoid fever during the 1947 outbreak. Her first public health assignment was in Canouan, and then she worked in Georgetown, Belair and Calliaqua. She studied for and successfully completed her public health certificate in Jamaica in 1950. After she married Mr Hugh McKie, she had to resign from nursing and was re-hired in 1953 after the birth of her daughter. She retired in 1986 at age 60, as Senior Nursing Officer of Community Nursing Services, being the first to hold that title.

After her retirement Sr McKie migrated to Canada where she lived for a few years before returning home to St Vincent and the Grenadines. She still does her activities of daily living with the help of an assistant. She attends the Fountain Gospel Hall and thanks God for saving and keeping her all these years.

There are many other retired nurses who have tirelessly contributed and continue to strive towards an ever changing nursing environment in St Vincent and the Grenadines and other parts of the world; we hope to highlight their journeys from time to time.

Yes, as retired nurses it is inspiring and exemplary to note that over the years, through sacrifices, we have made indelible contributions to our profession. We can remember working in “cost effective” environments and producing “effective care” to patients. However, as Jean-Baptiste Alphonso Karr stated in 1849, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Happy Nurses Week to all Nurses. We Salute and Honour You!

Clari Gilbert RN, BSN, MA President

Retired Nurses Association Inc

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