Florence Nightingale OM RRC

Celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician Florence Nightingale OM, RRC was born on 12 May 1820 . She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers, and was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” after her habit of making rounds at night. Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, the first nursing school in the world, now part of King’s College London. the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday.

She was born at the Villa Colombaia, near the Porta Romana at Bellosguardo in Florence, Italy, and was named after the city of her birth. Inspired by a call from God she announced her decision to enter nursing in 1844, and rebelled against the expected role for a woman of her status, which was to become a wife and mother. Nightingale worked hard to educate herself in the art and science of nursing, .In Rome she met Sidney Herbert, a brilliant politician who was instrumental in facilitating Nightingale’s nursing work in the Crimea, and she became a key adviser to him in his political career. Later in 1850, she visited a Lutheran religious community where she observed The Pastor and the deaconesses working for the sick and the deprived. , based on this experience She published her first book The Institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine, for the Practical Training of Deaconesses, and also received four months of medical training at the institute which formed the basis for her later career.

Florence Nightingale’s most famous contribution came during the Crimean War, which became her central focus in changing the horrific conditions present. On 21 October 1854, she and a staff of 38 women volunteer nurses, were sent to the Ottoman Empire, approx. 546 km (339 miles) across the Black Sea from Balaklava in the Crimea, where the main British camp was based. She arrived early in November 1854 and found wounded soldiers being badly cared for by overworked medical staff in the face of official indifference. Medicines were in short supply, hygiene was neglected, conditions were unsanitory, and there was no equipment to process food for the patients.This prompted Nightingale to send a plea to The Times for the government to produce a solution to the poor conditions, the British Government commissioned Isambard Kingdom Brunel to design a prefabricated hospital, which could be built in England and shipped to the Dardanelles. The result was Renkioi Hospital, a civilian facility which under the management of Dr Edmund Alexander Parkes had a death rate less than 1/10th that of Scutari. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was asserted that Nightingale reduced the death rate from 42% to 2% either by making improvements in hygiene herself or by calling for the Sanitary Commission. .

During her first winter at Scutari, 4,077 soldiers died. Ten times more soldiers died from illnesses such as typhus, typhoid, cholera and dysentery than from battle wounds.Conditions at the temporary barracks hospital were so fatal because of overcrowding, defective sewers and lack of ventilation. A Sanitary Commission had to be sent out by the British government to Scutari in March 1855, and effected flushing out the sewers and improvements to ventilation. Death rates were sharply reduced. During the war she did not recognise hygiene as the predominant cause of death, and she never claimed credit for helping to reduce the death rate. Nightingale continued believing the death rates were due to poor nutrition and supplies and overworking of the soldiers. It was not until after she returned to Britain and began collecting evidence before the Royal Commission on the Health of the Army that she realised most of the soldiers at the hospital were killed by poor living conditions and advocated sanitary living conditions as of great importance. Consequently, she reduced deaths in the army during peacetime and turned attention to the sanitary design of hospitals. During the Crimean war, Florence Nightingale gained the nickname “The Lady with the Lamp”, deriving from a phrase in a report in The Times and The phrase was further popularised by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1857 poem “Santa Filomena”.

While she was in the Crimea, the Nightingale Fund for the training of nurses was established. Nightingale pioneered medical tourism as well, and wrote of spas in the Ottoman Empire, and directed less well off patients there (where treatment was cheaper than in Switzerland). Nightingale also set up the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas’ Hospital. (Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King’s College London.) and campaigned for the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in Aylesbury. She also wrote Notes on Nursing, a slim 136-page book that served as the cornerstone of the curriculum at the Nightingale School and other nursing schools,and though written specifically for the education of those nursing at home, it sold well to the general reading public and is considered a classic introduction to nursing.Nightingale was an advocate for the improvement of care and conditions in the military and civilian hospitals in Britain. One of her biggest achievements was the introduction of trained nurses into the workhouse system from the 1860s onwards. This meant that sick paupers were now being cared for by properly trained nursing staff and was the forerunner of the National Health Service in Britain. By 1882, Nightingale nurses had a growing and influential presence in the embryonic nursing profession. Some had become matrons at leading hospitals, including, in London, St Mary’s Hospital, Westminster Hospital, St Marylebone Workhouse Infirmary and the Hospital for Incurables at Putney, Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley; Edinburgh Royal Infirmary; Cumberland Infirmary and Liverpool Royal Infirmary, as well as at Sydney Hospital in New South Wales, Australia.

In 1883, Nightingale was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria. In 1904, she was appointed a Lady of Grace of the Order of St John (LGStJ) and in 1907, she became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit. In 1908, she was given the Honorary Freedom of the City of London. Florence Nightingale sadly Passed away on 13th August 1910, however her contributions to medical science, nursing care and sanitary conditions have improved hospitals the world over and are still in use today and her birthday is now celebrated as International CFS Awareness Day

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