As nurses in Cork and around the world work at the forefront of the battle with Covid-19, the public are being asked to honour the commitment and ongoing dedication of the nursing profession in the first global Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
Today marks 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale and Director of Nursing at the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Ruth Lernihan described how proud she is of her staff.
Ms Lernihan said they could never have anticipated that the global appreciation day would arrive during a pandemic.
While the events they planned in Cork have had to be cancelled, Ms Lernihan stressed that the public can still honour their heroes by playing their part in curbing the spread.
Today follows a grueling number of months that have seen nurses caring for their patients in exceptionally difficult circumstances.
“We are living in history,” said Ms Lernihan.
“The Spanish ’flu pandemic dates back to 1918, yet here we are in 2020 tackling another pandemic. Staff have really pulled together. Not only have they been working hard in the hospital, they have also gone out to short-staffed community hospitals.
“People looking back on the year 2020 will immediately think of this pandemic. They will reflect on what nurses achieved and how it has changed their various roles and practices.”
She added that staff are hugely grateful to the public for the appreciation they have shown in recent months.
“Every day there are gifts left at the hospital, from hand lotions to baskets of fruit and sandwiches,” she said. “They always take you by surprise.”
Ms Lernihan believes life as we knew it before Covid-19 will be left behind, even after restrictions are lifted.
“From now on, the years will be referred to as either pre- or post-pandemic,” she said.
“We are looking forward to the post-pandemic world — if and when that occurs.
“Even then, we will still be reviewing and reflecting on what has been done and what could be done better.
“Hopefully, this will never occur again but there will be a time where we can look back and examine what was achieved,” she said.
Ms Lernihan spoke of one of the few positive outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It has shown the significance of nurses as well as their skills and abilities to adapt to changing circumstances,” she said.
She also thanked the public for playing their part in supporting nurses.
“We can see how the curve is diminishing and cases are dropping off,” she said. “By doing this, people are keeping us and each other safe.”