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V.I. Nurses Celebrating National Nurses Week and Month

Staff of Queen Louise Home for the Aged pose for Nurses Week 2015. (Photo submitted by Ernie Pennyfeather)
Staff of Queen Louise Home for the Aged pose for Nurses Week 2015. (Photo submitted by Ernie Pennyfeather)

The V.I. State Nurses Association will be joining millions of nurses on the mainland, Guam and Hawaii in celebrating Nurses Week, from May 6 to 12. The official celebration commemorates the birthday of Florence Nightingale, often called the founder of modern nursing. Wednesday, May 6, was Nurses Day. Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. issued a proclamation praising nurses and commemorating the week.

According to a statement from the V.I. State Nurses Association, 2020 has become incredibly challenging to front-line workers as the world faces a pandemic of epic proportions. Along with the week, the American Nurses Association has designated May 2020 as National Nurses Month and will promote weekly themes and activities which the V.I. group will take part in. Due to social distancing, face-to-face activities will be limited and the nurses in the community are encouraged to visit the American Nurses Association website at nursingworld.org and the V.I. State Nurses Association website at visna.nursingnetwork.com for webinars with accurate and updated information about the COVID-19 pandemic. These webinars are free for all nurses and continuing education credits are also offered.

From May 1-9, the theme is “self-care.”

Nurses put their patients first, but to be able to give the best care to the patients they must also take care of themselves. This is where employers, family and friends can play a major role in assisting them by offering support, whether financially, mentally or just being there to lend a hand or listening ears. Nurses must also reach out to someone they can trust if they believe they are at a breaking point; they also must maintain good eating habits, exercise regularly and get at least seven hours sleep nightly.

The State Nurses Association will be sponsoring a hotline where nurses can call and speak in confidence about any concerns they may have, receive some words of encouragement and know that someone cares.

The theme of week two, from May 10-16, is “recognition.”

This is when the community, government and the powers that be reach out to nurses and show support to them for their hard work and dedication. Tell a nurse thanks when you see him or her, offer to provide lunch, send some flowers or candies for the staff; these small gestures will be welcomed. Ensure sufficient supplies and equipment for the nurses to carry out their duties efficiently; this will help reduce the stress that they are facing daily.

The week of May 17-23 is devoted to professional development.

Now, more than ever, nurses are challenged to keep up to date with the changes that are taking place in the world of medicine. Things change daily and to ensure that the nurses are getting accurate and correct information, the American Nurses Association puts out a series of webinars weekly about the COVID-19 virus and other topics related to taking care of infected patients and can be accessed on the websites linked above. Nurses are encouraged to use these free educational sessions available to members of the association. Continuing education credits are also offered which can be used towards license renewal.

Week four, from May 24-31, is devoted to community engagement.

The State Nurses Association will be reaching out to the community, asking for their support of all nurses in whatever way they can. The group is calling on the governor and the Legislature to do all in their power to assist the health care workers.

“We are extremely fortunate and blessed in the territory to have not lost any health care workers to this dreadful virus to date and for that we give God thanks. We as a Christian community should and will continue to pray for our front-line workers,” Evet Rivera said in a release from the group.

“Our colleagues on the mainland have lost many of their co-workers and family members and our hearts go out to them,” she said. According to the release, Hilton Hotels has offered a weekly hotel stay at any Hilton Hotels in each state, during the month of May. The V.I. State Nurses Association is appealing to any hotels or Airbnbs which have available rooms to offer them to the nurses taking care of COVID-19 patients in order to give them time away from their families to protect them.

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