by Councillor Doreen O’Sullivan
When the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, little did they know exactly how the role of the nurse would have such a public profile in saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
May 12, 1820 was the birth date of Florence Nightingale, and in 2020 we celebrate 200 years of making a difference. Nursing has evolved over the years into a recognized health science with a number of sub-specialties. But it all began with this courageous woman who became known as the “Lady with the Lamp”. Some of those sub-specialties include Midwifery, Infection Prevention and Control, Primary Care, Critical Care, Surgical, General, Palliative Care, Public Health, Occupational Health, Mental Health, Research, and many more.
It is safe to say that Nursing has touched the lives of everyone on a personal or professional level. The scope of nursing practice reaches from the womb to the end of life.
On a personal level, this is true in the Municipality of North Grenville. Councillor Kristin Strakerjan’s mother was a registered nurse and graduate of the Ottawa Civic Hospital (OCH) School of Nursing. I also graduated from the OCH School of Nursing, and then went on to complete my BScN at the University of Ottawa. Later, I completed a Diploma in Adult Education from St Francis Xavier University in NS. I bring my strong belief that where we live is a social determinant of health, and I aim to continue to promote a safe and healthy community in North Grenville.
Eunice Dyke, the Great Aunt of North Grenville’s CAO, Gary Dyke, was a pioneer in Public Health in Ontario, and I share the following piece of her biography: “Eunice Dyke: Health Care Pioneer”, by Marion Royce. [Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1983. p.256]:
Eunice Henrietta Dyke (1883-1969) is known for the establishment of Public Health Nursing in the Toronto Department of Health early in the century, when nurses were not yet recognized for the service they could give in preventing illness and in fostering improved health of the citizenry. Miss Dyke, as she was known, had far-reaching vision in the development of programs to support her causes. She not only established nursing services via a complex city organizational framework, but facilitated the education of public health nurses in a university setting, and the development of a visiting housekeeper service – the forerunner of the Visiting Home-makers’ Association. She set the tone and practice of collaboration with other community social services, a feat in itself when organizational territoriality was a strong and professional value.
What a remarkable woman, who faced and overcame many obstacles in her pursuit of Public Health in Ontario.
There is still much work to be done in promoting the role of the Registered Nurse in Ontario. When the RN can work to full scope of practice, access to quality health care will improve and hallway medicine will be lessened across the entire province.
Nurses continue to be among the most trusted professionals, and they often put their own health at risk to serve our community. They need and deserve our thanks and support. On that note, I’d like to personally express my sincere appreciation to all the businesses and organizations which have sent food to hospital workers and nurses during these pandemic times. Your thoughtfulness does not go unnoticed.
The Public Health Nurses play a very important role in the health of our community, and I’d like to include a quote from Jane Hess, Chief Nurs- ing Officer, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. “….As we celebrate Nursing Week in the Year of the Nurse 2020, we thank our Public Health Nurses and Registered Practical Nurses at the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit for their excellent work. Our nurses are currently providing COVID-19 response: doing case and contact tracing and outbreak management; working in the assessment centres; supporting vulnerable clients in shelters and communities; providing media content, phone support and information; and continuing to provide essential public health services.”
Alongside Mayor Nancy Peckford and my council colleagues, I’d like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to all health care workers at this time, and to wish all nurses a very Happy Nurses Week.
Nobody says it better than Rick Mercer.
Rick Mercer’s rant about Nurses was from several years ago but so very timely today in these pandemic times.