MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
During the first half of the 19th century, the greater nations of the eastern hemisphere were locked in conflict over control of the various territories in the declining Ottoman Empire. One such battle, the Crimean War, was fought between 1853 and 1856, pitting the Russian Empire against those of France, Britain, Ottoman and the Kingdom of Sardinia. Nearly 20,000 British soldiers perished in the line of duty, but of those only 5,000 died of wounds sustained on the front lines.
Due to the horrendous conditions of hospital care in the mid-1800s, the remaining 15,000 British soldiers died mainly of disease. Poor sewage system maintenance and lack of proper ventilation were main causes of widespread sickness, yet many more may have fallen to disease if not for the pioneering efforts of one lady – one nurse.
One hundred and three years later, hospitals around the world celebrated the birthday of Florence Nightingale, an English nurse who revolutionized the role and capabilities of the hospital nurse. One hospital in particular, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, celebrated the modern Navy Nurse Corps with Nurses’ Week from May 6 through 13, culminating in the Nurses’ Ball held at the Paradise Point Officers’ Club aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
“The theme for the Nurses’ Ball this year is ‘nurses trusted to care,’ meaning that nurses strive every day to provide the highest quality of care to their patients,” said Navy Capt. Nancy Pearson, Directorate of Nursing Services with NHCL. “You are trusted on a daily basis to serve in a variety of settings, all the while ensuring the patient receives the best care possible.”
The Navy Nurse Corps officially began in 1908 with a superintendant, a chief nurse and 18 nurses. By the height of World War I, 1400 Navy Nurses served in various duty stations and on the front lines throughout the world. Now, the 426 NHCL nurses celebrate their rich heritage that spans more than a century of caring for their patients in a multitude of settings and locations.
“Quite frankly, we couldn’t have Navy Medicine without our nurses,” said Navy Capt. Daniel Zinder, commanding officer of NHCL. “They play the same role throughout history, being with patients every minute, keeping them alive and helping them get better faster. The quality of nurses we have at the hospital is just outstanding.”
Following a night of anecdotes, gift-giving, fine food and announcing that Cmdr. Elizabeth French, Department Head for Maternal Child Inpatient Nursing Unit with NHCL, is selected for captain, the cake-cutting ceremony was held with Navy Capt. Thomas Armel, program director for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center at NHCL, and Ensign Aileen Sizemore, an intern nurse with NHCL, as Navy Corps nurses with the most and least time in service, respectively.
“For the past century, the Nurse Corps has served families around the world,” said Navy Capt. Lawrence Duane, Directorate of Nursing Services with Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point. “We all need, on this occasion, to remember our legacy, and today, you too are this legacy.”
Whether deployed or at home, seeing dozens of patients per day or standing by the bedside for the first time, Navy nurses are committed to ensure those under their care are properly cared for by the best of their ability, for if there is one thing those in the Navy Nurse Corps should be, it is trusted to care.