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Thank you for your service

Pope Francis and Communication Minister on International Nurses Day

As Trinidad and Tobago, joins the world in celebrating International Nurses Day, today, Tuesday, May 12, Minister of Communication Donna Cox has praised the nurses of the country for rising to the occasion by putting themselves at risk every day to keep us safe. She encouraged all health workers to continue steadfastly with due diligence and commitment.

In a press release issued May 11, Minister Cox said that this year’s theme Nursing the World to Health, accurately reflects what has been happening over the past few months.

“The International Council of Nurses (ICN) chose this theme in 2019 not knowing what would happen in the future, but this is exactly what our nurses have had to do in our twin-island Republic,” she said.

Cox added that each health worker is needed to play their part so that all can get through this pandemic where over four million people throughout the world have been infected. The good news, she said, is that the majority of those affected have been able to recover and resume their normal lives.

Nurse Laverne Hill

“Our country has been able to keep our numbers down to a manageable figure with the measures that have been put in place since March. To those who are serving in public and private sectors, we express our gratitude for the sacrifice you are making to meet the needs of your patients and indeed the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Thank you for your service,” Cox said.

This year’s celebration of International Nurses Day, in the context of the International Year of Nurses and Midwives was officially declared by the World Health Organization. At this same time, the world observes the bicentennial of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing.

Nurses feel proud

Laverne Hill, Registered Nurse at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) said she feels honoured to be able to participate in the improvement of the health care system and interact with patients to provide care and comfort. Speaking to Catholic News via phone from the Adult Surgical Ward Three, Hill shared she will be spending her day working the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. She is presently in an intensive care nursing programme at the Adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

She mentioned due to the present pandemic, the nurses are unable to do “any celebration” this year. They did, however enjoy a “small breakfast” together.

Last year, nurses at the EWMSC were recognised with tokens of appreciation. But for Hill, she simply wants the public to identify that nurses are nurturing, understanding, empathetic and self-sacrificing.

Another nurse, Veronica Richards, Registered Nurse at Port of Spain General Hospital was busy on shift.

She shared while the nurses and midwives usually celebrate the observance together, this year’s celebration is “blanketed” by COVID-19. She admits that she is “a bit disappointed”, but also recognises that nursing is an “unpredictable” job.

“So as much as we cannot celebrate officially in terms of dinners and galas, we still have to consider that this is our job and we feel proud to do what we have to do to help,” Richards said.

Nurse Veronica Richards

Richards, a mom of a young child under one, said she is not allowed to be in direct contact with COVID positive patients.

She stressed that nursing does not occur only in the confines of a hospital. Richards explained that before the official lockdown, she met with parishioners and presented on basic hand hygiene. She also displayed posters in the church.

“Whatever you can do, in terms of telling people their mask is worn incorrectly…basic things like this is nursing…nursing is life… you are a nurse for the neighbours, people in the maxi, [a] nurse, just generally….” Richards said.

Apostolic Blessing from Pope

Pope Francis, in his message for the occasion said that at this critical moment, marked by the global health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have rediscovered the fundamental importance of the role being played by nurses and midwives. He imparted an Apostolic Blessing to nurses and midwives on the annual celebration.

“Every day we witness the testimony of courage and sacrifice of healthcare workers, and nurses in particular, who, with professionalism, self-sacrifice, and a sense of responsibility and love for neighbour, assist people affected by the virus, even to the point of putting their own health at risk,” he said via the press office of the Holy See.

Nurses, Pope Francis said have historically played a central role in health care. Every day, in their contact with the sick, they experience the trauma caused by suffering in people’s lives. “They are men and women who have chosen to say ‘yes’ to a very special vocation: that of being good Samaritans who are concerned for the life and suffering of others. They are guardians and preservers of life, who, even as they administer necessary treatments, offer courage, hope and trust,” he said. The Pope referred to midwives, the “most noble of professions” as among the “saints next door”.

“You are an image of the Church as a ‘field hospital’ that continues to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ, who drew near to and healed people with all kinds of sickness and who stooped down to wash the feet of his disciples. Thank you for your service to humanity!” Pope Francis said.