This week, from May 7th to 13th, is National Hospital Week. At the same time, as occurs every year, it is also National Nurses Week, which started on May 6th and ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12th. The overlap of recognition resulted from three different proclamations: The first National Hospital Day was established in the year 1921 to inspire support for hospitals after the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918. In 1953, National Hospital Day was lengthened to National Hospital Week, also coinciding with Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Richard Nixon proclaimed National Nurses Week in 1974, and Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Nurses Day in 1982.
For Aspen Valley Hospital, this week is special every year, as a time to honor and celebrate our healthcare professionals, but these past few years legitimately seem different. We will never forget the dedication and heroism of our frontline workers standing between our community and the global pandemic. I recall very clearly the genuine fear of what our staff and physicians didn’t know about their personal risks, and for their families they went home to, and yet the poise and professionalism that they demonstrated. I will never forget the signs installed at our employee entrance declaring “heroes work here,” and the nightly 8:00 pm clanging noises from our neighborhood in recognition of our staff. And yet, ironically and conversely, all of our staff are contending with a historic healthcare staffing shortage, a local housing shortage, and healthcare workplace violence is also sadly on the rise across the country, from a strained, divided and angry population and a large increase in the incidence of mental illness.
Our Chief Operating Officer, and a nurse herself, recently told our staff, “As I think of our personal challenges, our patients’ challenges, challenges in this community and nationally, the word compassion comes to mind: why we all chose the medical profession to enter into, helping those who need us, but still figuring out how to re-energize to come back and do this work again and again.”
AVH will be celebrating our nurses and our staff this week, with daily activities and other expressions of appreciation. We are proud of our professionals and the work they do, and we are grateful for each and every one of them. We are also doing everything we can to improve our housing availability, enhance our employee recruitment and retention, and to provide a safe workplace for all of our staff and our patients.
As you review this issue of our enewsletter, I encourage you to think about the nearly 500 intrepid people who make our services possible, and who make AVH an award-winning organization for the extraordinary care we provide. I invite you to thank your neighbors, friends and family who serve in healthcare roles. You’ll also have the perfect opportunity to thank some of our staff personally, during our Health Fair the first week of June, when our staff are once again stepping up and stepping out to make our community healthier.