Countless stories in the media over the past year have described the nurses on the front lines as wartime nurses. Like Florence Nightingale treating soldiers during the Crimean War in the 19th century and subsequent Florence Nightingales who did so during World War I, World War II and other major 20th-century conflicts, today's front-line healthcare heroes are facing warlike challenges just as dangerous, but against an unseen enemy.
We learned just how dangerous when CNPH in March 2021 honored the 500- plus nurses who made the ultimate sacrifice against that invisible foe during the preceding 12 virus-ravaged months.
That showed that, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo urgently called for help in March 2020 from medical and nursing students and faculty at all colleges and universities, and said, “This is a war,” it was not hyperbole.
Dyan Florez-Ho ’16 wrote of how she and Ariel Zhang ’16 started as commuting buddies to Adelphi, then got through clinical rotations together and are now together on the front lines as registered nurses at NYU Langone in the COVID extracorporeal membrane oxygenation intensive care unit (ECMO ICU). “It truly feels like we are on a battlefield and at war with COVID. [But] we only get stronger each day, helping patients defeat COVID.”
Anne Peirce, PhD, senior adjunct faculty, said, “Nightingale promoted the then radical ideas of hospital cleanliness, fresh air [and] nutritious food. … She was the first female member of the Royal Academy of Statisticians and one of the first individuals anywhere to use data to improve healthcare.”
“We are the beneficiaries of her dedication to alleviating suffering,” she said. Citing “her intellect, her political acumen, her fearlessness [and] her observation of pattern,” Dr. Peirce said, “she fostered the radical ideas of healthcare for all, modern hospitals, an educated nursing workforce, pension systems for the military, the rehabilitation phase of recovery, recreation facilities for soldiers, military medical education and the importance of public health.”
She added, “Any one of these issues would be a life accomplishment but these were all the work of one woman driven by her faith.”
The nurses educated here at Adelphi and elsewhere are using key tools against COVID-19 first advocated by Nightingale, such as good hygiene practices.
Kimberly Krasa ’20, a former Adelphi University Student Nurses Association president and current Northwell Health operating room RN, citing her sim lab training at CNPH, said she and her classmates “learned how to maintain proper sterility in sterile techniques” and other things in a simulated hospital setting. “All of these experiences in the sim lab helped to prepare me for my first RN job.”
Associate Professor Patricia Donohue-Porter, MS ’78, PhD ’87, said, “Persistent and sensitive caring by nurses has recently come more to light during the ravages of the pandemic but it is always in place, whether viewed in public or not.”
Kassandra Vetrano ’21 a certified nursing assistant at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, New York, empathizes with her patients. “I know how alone and scared I felt when I had COVID, so I feel like I can relate to them and I can say, ‘Hey, I’m with you.'”
“I knew my role to support my patients emotionally and help them on their path to COVID-19 recovery is why I became a nurse in the first place,” said Marie Walsh ’15, front-line RN at New York Community Hospital.
Dr. Donohue-Porter observed that Nightingale’s observations in her book, Notes on Nursing, are “deeply shared between nursing faculty and students at Adelphi.”
Just as nurses in the past looked to Nightingale for inspiration, so the nurses and nursing students of today and tomorrow continue to be inspired by her legacy.
Last September, in an online message welcoming new and returning CNPH students, Professor Marilyn Klainberg ’63, MS ’77, EdD, said, “History has taught us that, from Florence Nightingale to you, you are providing healthcare and saving lives. Your purpose will always change so many lives for the better.”