Florence Nightingale

The Lady with the Lamp

"To be 'in charge' is certainly not only to carry out the proper measures yourself but to see that everyone else does so too."

"If a nurse declines to do these kinds of things for her patient 'because it is not her business', I should say that nursing was not her calling."

Florence did not view caring for others as menial labour, instead she believed it was her divine purpose in life. Her compassion and skills in caring for others led to nursing promotions early in her career. Some time later the Secretary of War Sidney Herbert, asked her to organize a corps of nurses to tend to the sick and fallen soldiers in the Crimea.

In 1854 she and a selected team of 34 nurses arrived at the British hospital base in Constantinople, Turkey now Istanbul, and was horrified by the unsanitary conditions surrounding injured soldiers, and they immediately set to work cleaning it up. Florence led the way in the clean-up by including ambulatory soldiers to scrub floors, walls and ceiling, nurses gave care and she went around with a lamp on dark evenings giving care to injured soldiers who also called her "The Angel of the Crimea" because the new sanitary condition reduced the death rate of injured soldiers by two thirds.

Her compassion, care, insight and innovation included setting up an "invalid's kitchen" for cooking specific dietary meals; a laundry; a classroom and library. She wrote a 330-page report proposing changes for military hospitals, that caused the War Office administration to implement those changes which led to a Royal Commission for the Health of the Army in 1857.

Queen Victoria, supported Florence's vision and helped create a Royal Commission into the health of the army; presented Florence with an engraved brooch that came to be known as the "Nightingale Jewel", and a prize of 180,000 from the British government. In 1860 she used the prize money to establishment a hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. Years later The Florence Nightingale Museum was built on the site that housed the original school for nurses.

"So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself."


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In bed at age 90