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The Mighty Kitchener begs Audrey, and we can safely assume that she is a nurse, to “Gimme de ting dat de doctor me!” Gregory Isaacs, he of NIGHT NURSE fame, cries out plaintively, “Tell her try her bestest to make it quick / Woman tend to the sick. . .” Indeed, he pointedly declares, “Don’t want to see no doc / I need attention from my nurse around the clock.”  In the Dominican Republic, a band called CONJUNTO QUISQUEYA, sings about the nursing profession in LA MEDICINA, as does Kassav, a popular band from Guadeloupe in “Zouk La Se Sel Medikaman Nou Ni . . .,” an infectious (no pun intended) dance favourite from the 1980’s. Seems, we all need our nurses, and we must forever show our appreciation for the selfless way in which they throw themselves into their chosen calling. Theirs is a labour of love, because we really cannot remunerate them adequately for the sacrificial way in which they put their lives on the line to provide aid and comfort to us. (See Hurricane Lipstick’s, NURSES NEED A HIGHER PAY). And yes, they make sure that we “Take de ting dat de doctor order us!”

Of course, appreciation for our nurses was not always a given. In fact, the noble profession of nursing was once scorned as per this mini-documentary from GULF NEWS: “There was a time when healthcare workers were not appreciated. During the Victorian era, nurses were looked down upon and mocked. Nursing was perceived to be a job for the uneducated until Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910), a wealthy British woman changed it all. Rejecting her comfortable position and marriage, she volunteered in hospitals in London, and pushed methods that saved thousands of lives. Using data analysis and visualisation, she realised that poor hygiene and sanitation were killing more soldiers than their wounds, and she pushed methods that saved thousands of lives. Her efforts and scientific mind made her well known in the nursing and mathematical fields, not to mention the 200 books, pamphlets and articles, as well as the many hospitals and nursing schools that she designed and opened. Her nightly rounds during the darkness of the Crimean War gave her the name, THE LADY WITH THE LAMP, and she became a symbol of hope and mercy. She is regarded as the founder of modern nursing.” 

This past Tuesday 12th May, (Florence Nightingale’s birthday), was officially recognised as International Nurses Day, and we here at NEWSCO were careful to devote some of our radio programming and newspaper coverage to these ‘angels of mercy.’  We believe that we echo the sentiments of all Antiguans and Barbudans when we express our heartfelt thanks to them, especially during this enormously perilous time of Covid-19. We certainly ask God’s blessings on their lives and invoke His providential care and keeping. May He ever cover them with His most precious blood.

Of course, we did a little something extra here in Antigua and Barbuda to mark the day. Hundreds of onlookers and motorists honked their horns, and blew whistles and waved, and clapped and made a joyful noise in a salute to our very own heroic Florence Nightingales as they lined the Queen Elizabeth Highway. The nurses were there in a show of solidarity with their counterparts around the world, a rather moving and tender eruption of gratitude and love, much like the similarly rapturous displays that we have been witnessing at places like Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

We believe that these offerings of gratitude and affection for our Nightingales ought to be regular happenings for the rest of this Covid crisis.  After all, they will convey to them that they are not being taken for granted, and they will certainly be a morale boost. Remember folks, as two of Tuesday’s placards declared, [nurses] SMILE WHEN THEIR PATIENTS SMILE and they are THE HEART OF HEALTHCARE. You will certainly hear no argument on those declarations from the late Gregory Isaacs and Lord Kitchener, or from us here at NEWSCO. Our nurses are deserving of decent coronavirus bonuses and generous extra vacation days with pay. Plus, ‘nuff respect’ and plenty praise! Big-up to the nurses!

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