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A year has passed

June 28, 2010 - Michael Palmer

It was one year ago this evening that my Mother died from complications due to cancer treatments. I am planning to honor nurses each year on this date by re-running my column from last July.

Nurses Deserve Respect

ALL OF us know a nurse or have had our lives impacted in some way by their care.
Often we do not give them a second thought; they are just a part of the backdrop in a pastel maze of fluorescent-lit hallways and white linens.
Whether taking care of a family member in a hospital or home care, we soon find that these people are a special breed that have answered a calling to help their fellow man.
Over the past four months, I have followed my mother through emergency rooms, intensive care units, a nursing home and in home care. During this time, my family and I have come to learn to admire and respect these dedicated professionals.
At every point of her medical care, the nurses were there. Unsung and unappreciated, they work daily with their patients.
In addition to administering drugs, bandages and constantly monitoring the condition of their patients, there are the less glamorous tasks of cleaning and caring for the patients' daily bodily discharges. The patients are often suffering and less than cordial during their hospital or nursing home stay, yet these angels in white return to their posts daily to administer care.
Last week, my mother had a second heart attack and the damage was irreparable. She was in the intensive care unit, and the doctor requested that she be moved to palliative care. This special area offers a quiet, soothing environment for terminally ill patients and their loved ones. However, no rooms were available, so the nurses of the ICU went the extra mile and transformed their unit.
They brought chairs, food and drinks for the family gathered there. Despite the critical condition and trauma in the nearby rooms, the nurses took extra time and care with us.
They came in and held hands with my father, talked and explained each phase of the care with all of us. When none of us was able to fulfill my mother’s request to sing a song to her, an extremely talented nurse asked us all to join her as she sang "Ave Maria" to comfort a dying patient.
When the heart monitors flatlined in the nursing station, they joined us in the room to shed tears with people who were total strangers before they arrived that day for their shifts.
My aunt asked the nurse as she hugged her, “How do you do this day after day?” She never answered, because the day my mother spent in her care and the comfort she had provided to us all spoke far more than any words she could have offered.
Should you have the chance, thank a nurse. I just did.

Florence Nightingale Pledge

"I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care."

Special thanks to our angels: Dawn Barnhart and Michelle Jefferies of Aultman Hospital.



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