Last week the state Senate unanimously adopted a resolution sponsored by Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25) to honor nurses across our Commonwealth. 

 The resolution designated May 6-12 as “Nurses Week in Pennsylvania”.

Scarnati explained that throughout Pennsylvania there are over 218,000 registered nurses – making nursing the largest licensed health care profession in our state.

“Nurses are an integral part of providing quality healthcare to residents across our Commonwealth and I’m proud to stand with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to recognize the hardworking, dedicated nurses of Pennsylvania,” Scarnati said.  “As the brother of a nurse, I know firsthand the compassionate care our nurses provide each and every day.”

I can echo Joe’s comments. I am married to a Registered Nurse who works in long term care. I have witnessed first hand the trials and tragedies she has experienced over the past two decades. Frankly, I do not think I am strong enough to do her job.

I try not to visit her at work because I am an emotional marshmallow. When I see what she deals with every day I thank God for people who are nurses. Helping those in need is a higher calling than I can ever aspire too.

I have heard her frustrations when her best efforts are not sufficient to reverse a disease that eats away at a person. I have marveled at her faith when she counsels a patient in need of faith. I have been in awe of her strength of character when she encounters a patient who is belligerent. She understands that person’s anger is not directed at her but stems from a fear of their own mortality.

These are traits I have found among her colleagues as well. A person does not enter the nursing profession because it is easy. It is hard, extremely hard. Providing hands on care means just that. That comes as a surprise to some people who explore nursing as a possible profession and soon discover long term care is not glamorous.

My wife can only share in general terms what she experiences every day. Health care workers must observe confidentiality rules and that prohibits any specifics about her patients. Now and again she will share with me a difficult experience, again without revealing any names. I cannot comprehend how a patient can be combative to a person who is trying to help. Nor can I understand the need some families feel to threaten a lawsuit every time they feel a family member has been mistreated in some manner. Certainly there are times when there is blatant mistreatment but, based on my experience, these cases are rare. That is what makes them so terrible.

I would ask anyone who encounters a nurse to step back and try to view things from their perspective. I believe rational people will cut the criticism and instead offer a bit of thanks.

“Nurses Week in Pennsylvania” coincided with “National Nurses Week”, which will continue through May 12, ending on the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, who is recognized as the founder of modern nursing.


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