Chief Nursing Officer Address On International Nurses Day

SAINT Lucia nurses on Monday of this week, joined their counterparts from around the world in celebration of International Nurses Day.

Chief Nursing Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Kerthney Charlemagne – Surage in an address to mark the day, spoke about nurses’ contribution to the health sector in Saint Lucia, and the challenges they face, particularly since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is Nurse Surage,s full address delivered last Monday:

St. Lucia joins the rest of the Region in celebrating International Nurses Day on May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. International Midwifery Day is celebrated on May 5 th. However, because all the Midwives in St. Lucia are nurses, we collectively celebrate May 12th and this year, we have decided to have a month long celebration in May to celebrate Nurses in St. Lucia.

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This year’s theme “Nurses: A voice to Lead: A vision for future healthcare” places significance on the importance of leadership in Nursing to achieve safe and effective outcomes. We stand proud as a profession after the extension of the Year of the Nurse into 2021 by the World Health Organization.

This recognition builds on the increased visibility of the nurses’ contribution to the health sector highlighting the dedication and sacrifice of nurses worldwide. This comes as an opportunity for us as a country to showcase and celebrate the work of our nurses and midwives whilst highlighting the challenging conditions they often face. Internationally, and no different in St. Lucia, nurses are the largest group of health care workers and have historically been a huge symbol of healthcare. Their skills and knowledge make them one of the most prominent pillars that uphold our healthcare system. By the nature of the job, nurses have always been on the frontline in saving lives, caring for the sick and shut in, guarding our boarders, protecting our children, the most vulnerable and at risk and also educating our families and communities.

As we have all witnessed, the health workforce being put to the test this past year as COVID -19 spread across the globe. The pandemic has highlighted the critical role and the importance of nurses within the health sector and has also highlighted the longstanding problems that remain unresolved. The capacity as well as competencies of nursing professionals, nursing leadership as well as working conditions, nursing distribution, allocated resources, and nursing education are all priority areas within the profession that require urgent attention.

The pandemic has impacted our nurses in situations never seen before such as working long hours, abuse and victimization by clients and evolving guidance on how to care for the patients and the virus compounded by the mass migration of nurses. However, despite all the focus on COVID-19, and the challenges and limitations caused by this pandemic the other work programs continue and nurses continue to persevere and to perform remarkably, adhering to the call of duty to serve.

This year of the Nurse, in particular this month, we are calling on the public and private sectors for support and action to ensure that our nurses are supported, protected, motivated and equipped to deliver health care at all times, not only during COVID-19. Please, let’s rally together and truly show we care by making investments in our front liners to ensure job security, ensuring appropriate protection and conditions of work, investments in nursing education and professional development, investments in nursing leadership and management, security at work, creation of enabling work environments where nurses can thrive and flourish.

We must realize that investments in the health and wellbeing of nurses are essential to the quality of care they provide. As the Chief Nursing Officer, I would like to highlight the contribution of a special and extraordinary group of Nurses- our retired nurses. You have paved the way for nursing today and we respect and honour you for your contributions to our society .It is often said, ”once a nurse, always a nurse” and it does hold true, for though you who have formally left the service , you continue to contribute to health care within our communities.

I take this opportunity to encourage people, male and female, to consider a career in Nursing. It is a valued and rewarding profession and offers you a chance to make a real difference, not only in the lives of people but also within families and communities as well.

On behalf of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, I extend sincere gratitude and appreciation to all nurses in St. Lucia, whether in public or private service, retired or in active service: I salute you and thank you for the spectacular work that you do on a day to day basis. Nurses, this is our month. Please do take time to unwind. Let’s celebrate our gains but let us also reflect on those areas that need improvement within our profession. May God continue to keep us all safe, protected and healthy as we continue to press on.

Happy International Nurses Day! Continue to stay strong, and to hold high the lamp of light and hope.

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