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Conclusion In 2006 the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA) published Professional Nursing in Kentucky: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, a historical overview of nursing in the state. Many of the nurses in this book echo the events recounted in the KNA book. Professional Nursing in Kentucky traces the development of nursing to the early 1800s. “The records of nursing during this early period,” the prologue explains, “are scanty, often conflicting, and difficult to discover. The first ‘so-called nurses’ in Kentucky and elsewhere in the Country were Roman Catholic Sisters. In times of epidemics they helped families care for their own when they fell victims to yellow fever, typhoid fever and cholera. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (SCN) were the first and only congregation of women religious to minister in the entire eastern half of Kentucky until 1859, when the Benedictine Sisters arrived in Covington.”1 Nursing began to be established as a profession with the Crimean War in Europe (1853–1856) and the Civil War in the United States (1861–1865). “President Lincoln issued an appeal to religious orders for nurses. In Kentucky, Brigadier-General Robert Anderson and Bishop Martin J. Spalding requested volunteers from the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and [also] the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine. . . . The U. S. Sanitary Commission paid female nurses. The sisters and other church women volunteered by the hundreds in Kentucky to care for the Union and Confederate casualties of battles throughout the Commonwealth . Emergency hospitals were set up in school buildings (closed by war), factories, warehouses and even court houses.”2 Professional nurse training programs followed, although “Kentucky did not begin to train women until more than two decades” after the Civil War. “Nationally, there were thirty-five schools of nursing by 1875, fifteen more by 1880, thirty-four more by 1885, and by this date, none in Kentucky. . . . Greatly influenced by the nursing school founded in London by Florence Nightingale at St. Thomas Hospital in 1860, several Nightingale patterned schools began in the U. S. . . . A school for nurses opened at the John N. Norton Memorial Infirmary 252 Tales from Kentucky Nurses in Louisville, 1886. Others followed, including those privately owned by physicians.”3 The KNA, a professional organization for the entire state, was established in 1906, when a letter went out to nurse faculty and graduates of Kentucky training schools for nurses and nurses elsewhere, from the Nurses Alumna, Norton Infirmary (founded 1905) and the Jefferson County Nurses Club (founded 1896). The letter invited them to a meeting in Louisville November 28 and 29. . . . Sixty-nine nurses accepted the invitation. Records do not identify them, nor the areas from which they came. Travel was usually limited to train. Cars were few and road conditions poor. . . . Presentations by bishops, doctors and club women welcomed the nurses and offered encouragement and support.4 By midcentury, as the Cold War developed, nurses were envisioned to have a key role in civil defense preparedness. At the beginning of the 1950s, National Security was at the top of the government agenda. . . . Nursing was declared a critical occupation, for nurses would be expected to give primary health care in disasters, which might well result from atomic, chemical or bacteriological warfare. Committees and programs attempted to prepare nurses for such eventualities . The National Security Civil Defense Board made arrangements to provide regional courses of instruction, “The Nursing Aspects of Atomic Warfare,” and they called on the state governors for assistance. Governor Wetherby appointed Margaret East, RN Director, Division of Public Health Nursing, State Department of Health to act as coordinator of civil defense.5 By the twenty-first century, the nursing profession had seen dramatic transformations, but the fundamental role of nurses remained unchanged in many ways. “As nurses face the unresolved problems of the last several decades,” Professional Nursing in Kentucky explains, “they continue to be challenged by an ailing health care system that has changed little as it provides a high quality of service to a few. The Conclusion 253 United States remains the only industrialized country in the world that does not provide health care to its populace. The underpinning of the nursing profession is caring as depicted in the American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics. Nurses care for patients, families or for anyone in need. Understandably then, a nurse feels pressured by the inherent ethical dilemma presented when men, women, and children are under-cared-for and under-insured.”6 My personal contacts with nurses demonstrated how their services have undergone significant...


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