Plans are underway for a major celebration on May 6 of people on the frontlines of a battle against COVID-19, the virus that to date has taken more than 60,000 lives and seriously damaged the nation’s and West Hollywood’s economy.
The City Council has on its agenda a proposal by City Council members John Heilman and Lindsey Horvath to celebrate National Nurses Day with a motorcade along Santa Monica Boulevard to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center that may include law enforcement officers from Beverly Hills and the City of Los Angeles as well as officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The proposal would have the city shine blue lights on Santa Monica Boulevard and City Hall during National Nurses Week, which runs from May 6 to 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, known as “The Lady of the Lamp” and the founder of modern nursing. The Council will consider the proposal at its meeting on Monday.
While residents will be asked to celebrate, they also will be reminded to adhere to social distancing rules. Ways for them to participate would include engaging one another through social media channels, making signs and banners, participating in a coordinated daily applause for nurses and healthcare workers, and donating to organizations that are addressing the needs of nurses and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They include Cedars-Sinai, Planned Parenthood West Hollywood Health Center, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Saban Community Clinic, and Men’s Health Foundation.
“As the worldwide response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, the critical importance of nurses in our society has been brought into focus,: says a memo to the Council about the proposed celebration. “More often than not, when a coronavirus patient ends up in a hospital, it’s nurses at the frontlines who are responsible for their care and treatment. Nurses are providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, leading community dialogue to address fears and questions and, in some instances, collecting data for clinical studies.
“National Nurses Day is a special opportunity to thank nurses for the sacrifices they make daily to protect the health and well-being of others, and to educate the public about the important role nurses play in our lives. The gratitude we show on this day serves as a reminder to nurses that they are making a difference – a difference they may not realize while in the throes of overloaded hospitals with limited resources that have become all too common during the COVID-19 pandemic. “
In 1953, Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare petitioned President Dwight Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in October of the following year. Although Eisenhower did not act, the celebration was observed thanks to a bill sponsored by Rep. Frances P. Bolton, and the following year a new bill was introduced to Congress lobbying for official recognition of the celebration.
Twenty years later, in February of 1974, President Richard Nixon proclaimed a National Nurse Week to be celebrated annually in May. In 1980 and subsequent years, various nursing organizations including the American Nurses Association (ANA) rallied to support calls for a “National Recognition Day for Nurses” on May 6, which was eventually proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1982. In one final step, in 1993, ANA’s board of directors expanded nurse recognition to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6 through May 12 as permanent dates for National Nurses Week.