OPINION

Guest opinion: 'Our nurses are life-savers'

Jennifer Higgins
Special to The News-Press
Matthew Josephson, a registered nurse at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, treats Aaron Renfroe for symptoms associated with COVID-19 on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.

The word “nurse” means many things to many people.

Derived from the Latin verb nutire, which means to nurture or nourish, the term nurse has become synonymous with caring and compassion.

At Lee Health, we have more than 3,600 nurses. From the nurses who are at the bedside of our tiniest patients at Golisano Children’s Hospital to the nurses working in the trauma center and emergency rooms to the nurses in medical offices, we are extremely grateful for each and every one of them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on nurses and their commitment to caring for others. In such a time of uncertainty, our nurses came together to not only care for our patients, but to also care for and support each other. The pandemic has challenged them in ways only healthcare workers truly understand. But they persevered to provide the most exceptional care to our community.

Please join me in celebrating nurses during the annual National Nurses Week, which begins on May 6 and runs through May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday. Nightingale is known as the founder of modern nursing.

National Nurses Week is a time for us all to celebrate nurses worldwide for the contributions they make to the community and the vital role they have in healthcare.

Jennifer Higgins

When I think about all of the amazing things our nurses at Lee Health do, story after story comes to mind.

One I’d like to share is about three of our nurses who recently saved a man’s life at Disney World. The three nurses — a trauma nurse and two pediatric intensive care unit nurses — were at Disney World to run the annual Princess Half-Marathon. After a night of fun at Magic Kingdom, the trio boarded the ferry to head to the transportation center. Once on the boat, they heard cries for help.

They dropped their bags and other personal items, and ran toward the screaming. Right around the corner of the ferry, the group found an elderly man, who was unconscious and had gone into cardiac arrest. His wife was frantically screaming for help. Our nurses didn’t hesitate for a second, and immediately started performing life-saving care. Our trauma nurse began giving the man cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while the other two ran to find an automated external defibrillator (AED).  

Matthew Josephson an R.N. at Gulf Coast Medical Center and Alejandra Loayz an R.N.  prepare to treat patients for symptoms associated with COVID-19 on  Friday, August 13, 2021.

Once they had the AED, our nurses were able to bring him back through the device’s shocks, combined with CPR, just as emergency medical services arrived on scene. The man was rushed to the hospital, and was told he survived because of their heroic efforts. The three nurses were later able to connect with him over Zoom and all four of them cried. Through tears, the man told them they were his three angels, and he and his family thanked them profusely for saving his life.

As amazing and heartwarming as this is, it’s one of many stories of heroism that nurses exhibit every day. Inside and outside of our hospital walls, our nurses are life-savers.

Next time you see a nurse, please thank them for what they do. They are exceptional and we could not be more grateful for their continued dedication to their profession and our community.

Jennifer Higgins, RN, is Lee Health’s Chief Nursing Officer.