Monday, February 24, 2020 | ePaper

The Lady With The Lamp

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Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :
Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence of Italy and was named after the city of her birth. She died on August 13, 1910, at the age of 90 after living a long, productive life in which her ideas and contributions helped to shape the way nursing is practiced in the western world. Florence Nightingale was born to an upper-class English family. Her father William Shore Nightingale was a wealthy landowner and her mother Frances Nightingale a socialite who hailed from a family of wealthy merchants. From a young age Florence Nightingale assisted the poor and ill people in the village neighboring her estate, and by the age of 16 she considered nursing to be her life's calling.
In the Victorian era, nursing was considered a lowly and menial profession in England, and Florence Nightingale's refusal to marry at age 17 to pursue it disappointed her parents. In July 1850 Nightingale enrolled for 2 weeks of training and enrolled again in July 1851 for 3 more months at the Institution of Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth, Germany. There she learned basic nursing skills such as the value of patient observation and good hospital organization.
This training and later experiences helped Nightingale form her revolutionary theories. These theories were further enhanced at Middlesex hospital for governesses, where Nightingale worked as a superintendent. She struggled there to control a cholera outbreak and the unsanitary conditions that aided in the rapid spread of the disease. She made it her mission to improve the hygiene practices of the facility, which ended up significantly reducing mortality at the hospital.
The Crimean War of 1853 catapulted Nightingale and her methods to fame. During the war a scandal broke out about the lack of sufficient medical attention and the unsanitary and inhumane conditions to which injured soldiers were being subjected. The poor reputation earned by previous female nurses was the main cause of the lack of adequate staff.  In an effort to better the treatment of the injured soldiers, Secretary of War Sidney Herbert asked Nightingale to organize a corps of nurses to tend to and assist the sick and injured. On arrival in Scutari, the British base hospital in Constantinople, Nightingale found patients lying on their own excrement, rodents and other pests scurrying among them, and a complete lack of sanitary conditions, which made infectious diseases the number one killer of soldiers rather than battle wounds.
After the war she returned home to a hero's welcome and was awarded the "Nightingale Jewel," a brooch with an engraved dedication from Queen Victoria, for her service in the Crimea. She was also granted a prize of $250,000 from the British government and used the money to establish St. Thomas' Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. Her work lifted the reputation of nursing from lowly and menial to a respectable profession to which many upper-class women aspired.
Florence Nightingale is revered as the founder of modern nursing. Her substantial contributions to health statistics are less well known. She first gained fame by leading a team of 38 nurses to staff an overseas hospital of the British army during the Crimean War.1 Newspaper reports of unsanitary conditions at the military hospital had aroused the public, and the Secretary of War responded by appointing a team of nurses to address the situation. The Secretary was a friend of Nightingale's and knew her leadership skills. Nightingale and her team arrived in Turkey in November 1854. They found hospital conditions were far worse than reported. The wards were vastly overcrowded, patients were covered with rags soiled with dried blood and excrement, the water supply was contaminated, and the food inedible. Sewage discharged onto floors of wards and dead animals rotted in the courtyards. According to Nightingale, the hospital case-fatality rate during the first months after her arrival was 32%.
Clearly, that hospital was not a place that could promote healing. Along with her team, Nightingale set out to change the hospital's conditions. They identified key issues and implemented simple yet effective solutions. For example, they reduced overcrowding by imposing a 3-foot distance between patients. Flushing the sewers several times a day, disinfecting the latrines with peat charcoal and improving ventilation greatly improved sanitation. When they saw that cavalry horses were living in the hospital basement, the nurses had the animals moved to a different location.
The hospital environment improved dramatically after these interventions. It took just six months after their arrival to lower the mortality rate from 42.7 percent to just 2.2 percent. Nightingale's attention to detail was exemplary. She monitored everything that went on inside the facility including the people who died and the reasons behind their demise. Her impressive charts identified poor sanitation as the culprit behind most of the wartime fatalities. She convinced government officials to change their policies in order to prevent these unnecessary deaths.
Florence Nightingale is most commonly known for her great influence in modern Medicine, even did consults on queens and kings and when the Civil War came around the president asked her advice on how to help the injured soldiers, but she also was a great contributor to mathematics. Many people tend to overlook the fact the fact that "Florence Nightingale is credited with developing a form of the pie chart now known as the polar area diagram, or occasionally the Nightingale
Florence Nightingale is a hero who changed the way the medical community/culture tended the wounded. Florence Nightingale was known as "The Lady with the Lamp" during her time in the Crimean War ("Florence Nightingale", 2017). She is the founder of modern nursing, and a social reformer who focused on improving healthcare, promoting feminism and providing hunger relief. Although Nightingale devoted her life to the service of others.
From 1857 onwards, Nightingale was intermittently bedridden and suffered from depression. A recent biography cites brucellosis and associated spondylitis as the cause.  Most authorities today accept that Nightingale suffered from a particularly extreme form of brucellosis, the effects of which only began to lift in the early 1880s. Despite her symptoms, she remained phenomenally productive in social reform. During her bedridden years, she also did pioneering work in the field of hospital planning, and her work propagated quickly across Britain and the world. Nightingale's output slowed down considerably in her last decade. She wrote very little during that period due to blindness and declining mental abilities, though she still retained an interest in current affairs.
(Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed, former DDG of Bangladesh Ansar-VDP, writer, columnist & researcher)

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