Frederiksted Health Center’s nurses wore crisply pressed whites Monday as the clinic celebrated its nursing staff for National Nurses Week with poems, prayers, and awards for outstanding nurses in the clinic’s current home at Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged.
"Nursing has been called the oldest art and the newest profession," said Judy Anne Ross, the clinic’s head nurse. "Nurses have tremendous responsibility and very little authority," she said, continuing on to describe the contradictions, struggles and joys that nurses deal with in their daily work lives.
The clinic’s executive director, Masserae Sprauve-Webster, told the nurses they were "the creme de la creme," and that the management and staff "see you as the heartbeat of our institution."
The nursing staff named CNA Jacqueline Rivera Richards the clinic’s Nurse of the Year, with Ross and Nurse Avonelle Sackey, giving her some small gifts, reading a poem in her honor and pinning a corsage on her uniform.
"She has always stepped up to the plate," Sackey said of Richards. "If you don’t know the answer to something and need to know, everyone knows Jackie will find out for you," she said.
Richards, who has been at the clinic since 2006, said she was caught by surprise.
"They caught me good," Richards said. "I really appreciate hearing they think so highly of me."
All the nurses recited the “Nightingale Pledge,” the nurses’ equivalent of physicians’ “Hippocratic Oath,” originally penned in honor of Florence Nightingale, the 19th-century founder of modern nursing.
"I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug," they chanted in unison. "I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling," their pledge continued.
After a closing prayer, the gathering paused for some cake and refreshments before returning to the day-to-day business of providing care for the clinic’s patients.