On Sunday, May 13, nurses from each of Zanmi Lasante’s 12 clinics and hospitals gathered to celebrate International Nurses Day.
The cadre of health workers held a one day conference at Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital, a new facility built by Zanmi Lasante – Partners In Health’s sister organization in Haiti – and the Haitian Ministry of Health. Though the hospital is still under construction and won't be complete until the end of the summer, the location was chosen because it embodies PIH/ZL's emphasis on quality health care.
Nursing care will be critical to the success of the new hospital and, in turn, the hospital will be part of the Ministry of Health's strategy to strengthening nursing education and nursing country throughout the island nation.
The day began with a Mass lead by representatives from Cange – home to PIH/ZL’s medical and education complex – and ZL's long-standing Nurse Educator Miss Amazan. Following Mass, everyone convened in one of the large conference rooms where various talks took place: Madam Lucile Charles Presidente spoke on behalf of the National Nurses Association of Haiti, motivating young nurses to understand the importance and value of their profession. Minister August reflected on her work providing care in inner-city Carrefour Feille. Madam Myrtha Marescot spoke of her experience as a mental health nurse. Madam Leonida Emmeline from the University of Notre Dame nursing program spoke of importance of nurse training and research around nursing care.
Lastly, Head Nurse Beatrice Romela gave a moving speech about the central role nurses play in health care delivery. We found Ms. Romela's words so moving that we would like to share with all of our supporters.
Today, I cannot hide the emotion and honor I feel at speaking on behalf of Zanmi Lasante’s Nursing Department as we commemorate International Nurses Day.
This day is dedicated to all nurses, but let me remind you that it was not chosen by chance, since it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, an extraordinary nurse who greatly impacted the world around her by brining compassionate care to the poorest and most isolated of those suffering from disease and hunger.
Today, as during Nightingale’s time, nurses must not only listen to our patients and care for their needs, but we must learn and integrate sophisticated technologies and rapid advances in the science behind what we know. Our workplace is in constant motion, it is constantly evolving, and these improvements help our patients.
Nurses are important in their role and responsibilities. We are constantly pushing ourselves to improve and become more competent. Traditional models of working and learning seem less and less able to meet the current exigencies in terms of performance of health systems.
Too often, employers feel that nursing graduates are not trained to meet the demands of our work. They say we lack the skills needed to function properly in health institutions.
This finding is not surprising because nursing education too often lacks proper funding, guidance, and supervision. The situation in rural and remote settings is even worse.
In addition, the shortage of resources is keenly felt as nurses and auxiliary nurses are often the only providers of care. Unfortunately, we are often the most neglected, left to fend for ourselves, all of which leaves us unable to properly manage our patients.
Today, we call on the nation’s nursing schools and hospitals to strengthen in-service training for all nursing personnel, to strengthen the supervision of care in remote areas, to train educators for teachers, instructors, and hospital management.
We must loudly advocate for nurses, and shape a future that befits our society. We must create a future that provides quality services for all communities.
We can pave the way for the nurses that will come after us.
Today, like yesterday, the nursing profession requires qualities of selflessness and infatigable compassion.
We must believe that great nurses are the result of good schools, training, and practice. We must commit to move in all environments, with all patients regardless of their race or social level.
I am strongly encouraged by all my sisters who have chosen to invest in this profession, to help the profession move forward.