For many, it’s a three day weekend. But certainly not for all, as scores in the medical world know well.
Most would agree, though, that the holiday weekend does unofficially signal the start of a much long-awaited summer.
How far we’ve come from the holiday’s true meaning. And who would guess that if we look closely, it has a tie to Florence Nightingale?
Memorial Day was created as a day to remember military service men and women who died while protecting our country.
I have to believe that because of her background, Florence Nightingale would have been a big supporter of the day.
After all, she changed the landscape of how it looked to be a war-time soldier in a hospital setting. She changed lives by changing the sanitary direction of hospitals.
As you’re no doubt aware, she was struck by her early experience while nursing injured soldiers during the Crimean War. Soldiers died 10 times more often from conditions such as typhus, typhoid, cholera and dysentery than they did from battle wounds.
It wasn’t until some time after the war that Florence realized it was poor living conditions in the hospital that, once there, caused the majority of deaths.
Witnessing the sanitary, or rather unsanitary, hospital conditions pushed her to bring about a change in the hygienic history of hospitals.
We’re still indebted to her. As a patient, I can only say, “Go, Florence!”
Improving such conditions was something she campaigned for and brought attention to during the latter part of her career. She saw great improvements. It was reported that after 10 years of sanitary reform, mortality among soldiers in India declined from 69 to 18 per 1,000.
Wow. An impressive statistic no matter the century.
Her work in pioneering strict precautions to kill germs led to being asked to organize field medicine for the American Civil War. This British nurse made changes around the globe.
Imagine her amazement at the cleanliness of modern hospitals, complete with no-water-needed soap in a pump. Hand sanitizer, anyone?
Given her early work with soldiers, imagine the disappointment she might then likely feel at our collective trivializing of a day such as Memorial Day. She fought to keep soldiers alive once they made it to the hospital. We have a holiday that honors those service men and women who don’t make it off the field or out of the hospital alive.
But now, in our busy culture, instead of honoring their sacrifice, all we really long for is a day off from our stressful, tiring work days. Not saying we don’t deserve time off, especially so for those in the health care professions where you give and give and give. A day off is deserved and rightfully enjoyed. However, maybe it’s time we see this particular holiday in a different light.
Maybe we start seeing it under the light of Florence’s nightly lamp. A hundred fifty years later, it still burns brightly for those who give their lives for you and I today.
The Short Chick with the Walking Stick’s upcoming book celebrates professional caregivers as the StickSpirits they are. For four decades, they’ve helped Kris Harty Stick to It – No Matter What! She provides a patient’s perspective that is educational, inspirational, and insightful. Part memoir, part application, Kris helps student nurses, newer nurses and not-so-newer nurses remember why they joined their amazing profession in the first place. She shares how they positively impact patients’ lives, with minimal time and effort. Little things matter. Kris is the Thought Leader on People Helping People Persevere. She leads the conversation through writing, speaking, coaching, and small group discussions. A 40-year veteran of the medical industry – on the receiving end, Kris Harty is the Stickabilities Specialist at Strong Spirit Unlimited. If you’re looking for an effortless and meaningful way to lead your team toward continued quality caregiving, contact Kris. Call 877.711.STIC(K), email StrongSpirit@StrongSpiritUnlimited.com, or visit www.StrongSpiritUnlimited.com.