Flo Nightingale

Reforming healthcare again

My mom decided that she wanted to become a nurse when she was 6-years-old after reading a children's book about Florence Nightingale. I've recently picked up Ms. Nightingale's book, "Notes on Nursing," and am learning more about this social reformer and nursing celebrity. Her efforts contributed to the transformation of nursing from a profession for professed religious women or, in secular hospitals, women of ill-repute to a well respected career.  Her hold on the public imagination has been as far reaching, even inspiring a 35+ yr nursing career for my own mother. 

"Notes on Nursing" is accessible and engaging. In the preface Nightingale writes: "Every woman, or at least almost every woman, in England has, at one time or another in her life, charge of the personal health of somebody, whether child or invalid,--- in other words every woman is a nurse."

The advice she gives is applicable both to hospitals and households. It was the common sense derived from careful observation needed in an era that did not yet understand infection and the spread of disease.  In the below quote, you will see the basic areas she lays out in the beginning, on which she will focus her chapters. Her advice is primarily what we would call preventative care, and it is easy to see how she captured the public with it. She brought the field of nursing out of the ivory tower of academia, out from the closed doors of hospitals, and into people's everyday lives. 

"In watching diseases, both in private houses and in public hospitals, the thing which strikes the experienced observer most forcibly is this, that the symptoms or the sufferings generally considered to be inevitable and incident to the disease are very often not symptoms of the disease at all, but something quite different--

of want of fresh air,

or of light

or of warmth,

or of quiet,

or of cleanliness,

or of punctuality of care in the administration of diet,

of each or of all of these." 

Our modern era seems ripe for a Flo Nightingale scale healthcare reform. Can't you imagine a sweeping new focus on preventative health that empowers the public? Common sense tells us that the expensive, isolating delivery of our health care is not sustainable nor desirable. Will politicians be the celebrities of healthcare reform? I would love to see a healthcare champion come from the front lines.

In a similar vein, wouldn't it be great for an OT to gain Nightingale-like public stature? 

Sarah Lyon, OTR/LComment