Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

NEONI Awards Gala at The IX Center

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Last night, I had the good fortune to attend the legacy of Nursing Gala sponsored by The Center for Health Affairs and The Northeast Ohio Nursing Initiative (NEONI).  My friend, Kathryn Miracle of Miracle Resources, had an extra ticket available and asked me if I would like to attend.  Those of you who know me, know that I never miss the opportunity to attend a black tie affair, but it was oh so much more than that.  There was the obligatory two drink tickets, a wonderful silent auction and beautifully appointed tables with good food served and impeccable service, but what really impressed me was the Historical Display and Mobile Hospital.

This historical display showcased nursing in the 1940’s and included displays on the Cadet Nursing Corps and Army Nurses.There was a collection of nursing school pins and an amazing collection of dolls displayed courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic.  The walk through the Mobile Hospital was an incredible experience. I found out that the 256th Combat Support Hospital Unit is located in Brooklyn, OH and that these fine Army Reservists took the time to put up the replica and donated their time to talk to the attendees at the Gala.  What really impressed me about these soldiers was the respect they showed to the members of their unit who came before them.  They had scrapbooks showing the history of their unit.  They had current photos of where they have served and what they have done.  Soldiers proud of their heritage and proud of the work they do.  I thank them for their dedication to us Americans.

During the program, I learned something that sobered me.  Although we were at a Gala event to honor area leaders in the nursing profession and others, there was an underlying theme that needed to be addressed.  One of the honorees was The Frances Payne Bolton Family. I knew two things about Frances Payne Bolton, she was a U.S. Congressman and the School of Nursing, at CSU was named for her.  What I didn’t know was that during World War II, Representative Frances Payne Bolton introduced legislation to form the Cadet Nursing Corps that overcame a shortage of 125,000 nurses.  Her legislation formed the legacy of nurses that we honored last night. 

 The University Hospital spokesperson who introduced, Curtis Bolton, grandson of  Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton, mentioned almost in passing that our nation faces a shortage of 250,000 nurses in the very near future. Mr. Bolton spoke boldly to the issue of a nurse shortage in our future.  He quoted from a Harvard scholar who says that the stratification of our society will become more and more pronounced in the future.  Mr Bolton suggested that there would be no better bridge to overcome this stratification than a nurse.  I would agree, and this is why.  The two women honored, Jane Powell and Mary Lou Stricklin embodied all that is good and true in a nurse, the humor, the compassion, and the strength.  The U.S. Congressman David Hobson honored for his HIV proactive bill as a State Senator was also honored, and who did he say helped him craft the bill, a nurse who explained the need for protection of nurses so they could safely preform the duties of their profession–caring, comforting, and attending to those most vulnerable members of our society–the sick and the infirm.  My question is this: how will the bridge be made if there are no nurses to make that bridge?

We need to add this question to our list when we discuss health care issues in America–how will we overcome this shortage of nurses that is inevitable in our future unless we take action now as Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton did in 1943?  We hear a lot about the expenses that hospitals and doctors face, we hear a lot about the rising costs of medicines, but we haven’t heard much about what a shortage of 250,000 nurses will do to our quality of care and to the overall health of our communities.   

Those of us in Northeast Ohio are once again fortunate to have a group such as NEONI in our midst.  This organization has developed a sustainable program that will continue their role in this region.  I will use their own words in the Welcome letter of the program  to exemplify what that role is:

We feel our greatest impact on the future of nursing is to continue our role in the region; as an advocate to the students in the 105 high schools we partner with; as a spokesperson for the supply and demand of the regional nursing workforce and related issues; and as a catalyst to solve some of regional nursing workforce and related issues; and as a catalyst to solve some of the most complex issues facing nursing in terms of ducation retention, and workforce environment.

As a community, we should support this worthwhile organization and its mission to continue to promote the honorable profession of nursing.  We talk about economic development in our region, then shouldn’t we be talking about nursing education as an economic tool?  Should Northeast Ohio be the place to be to become the best nurse possible? Shouldn’t we be thinking of ways for our region to combat the shortage of 250,000 nurses?   And so what, if we train nurses to leave our region and go elsewhere, what better ambassador for our hospitals and our region than a professional trained to be the best she or he can be right here in Northeast Ohio. We have an organization that is an advocate of all of this and more.  We should support them in any way we can.   

 

  

Written by Gloria Ferris

October 8th, 2006 at 11:49 am

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