Childbirth is the strong basis by which all species continue to exist, and for human beings it is most often a demanding, yet healthy journey. Over the millennia, mothers have given birth with the support of fellow women who learned the strength and willpower that laboring brings. These supportive caregivers have had several titles throughout history, but the most common of these is “midwives.”
Editors’ Note: The mythology surrounding Florence Nightingale has often ignored or glossed over her role as an innovative applied statistician. Nightingale was doing sophisticated polar graph charts and thought experiments before think tanks and blogs existed. As we wrap up this year’s National Nurses Week and celebrate Nightingale’s 195th birthday, we thought it would be a good idea to look at how Nightingale would approach our modern health care issues. What follows is a fascinating scenario from Nurse and Mathematician Thomas Cox which positions Nightingale in the 21st century to make sense of our current healthcare reforms in the US.
Sarah H. Kagan PhD, RN
We live in the age of aging. Unprecedented longevity juxtaposed against declining birth rates means the older population is expanding at rates we have never encountered before. Aging defined in positive terms – “healthy aging” anyone? – is increasingly popular. But discussing realities like health care is far different.
March 7, 1965, was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement: the day known as Bloody Sunday when peaceful demonstrators marching from Selma to Montgomery were viciously assaulted by local police and Alabama state troopers. The injured were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital where the Sisters of St. Joseph were called to extraordinary service. Not only Sisters who were nurses, but also those who taught at St. Elizabeth’s School hurried from the convent to assist the victims. (The Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester who staffed the hospital and school had been serving in Selma since 1940.)
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky confirmed his membership in the “doctors who shouldn’t have gone into politics” club with his comments last week supporting the right of parents who don’t want their kids to be immunized. While acknowledging vaccines to be “one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that we have,” Paul asserted that they should be voluntary. He talked of “walking, talking, normal kids” who had been left with “profound mental disorders” after getting several vaccines at once, and admitted that he had used an alternative schedule for his own children.