Once a year, we recognize the important contributions of the 5.7 million women and men who work in America's hospitals. As Senior Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer of the American Hospital Association and Chief Executive Officer of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, this week is especially meaningful to me. It is a chance to showcase how nurses and hospitals are working together.
National Hospital Day began in 1921 on Florence Nightingale's birthday — May 12. But there were too many good things going on in America's hospitals to limit the celebration to a single day. So it grew to become National Hospital Week in 1953. By similar token, Florence Nightingale's birthday is also the anchor for National Nurses Week (coinciding this year with National Hospital Week). And since Nightengale's time, the goal of nursing and nurses has remained unchanged: to provide a safe and healing environment for every patient … to inspire faith, hope, courage and love … to be – borrowing from this year's National Hospital Week theme – the healing heart of health care.
The super heroes of health care today are the women and men closest to the people and communities who turn to them with their hopes and fears – the 5.7 million people who go to work on the front lines of care. They are our super heroes because, whether you see them at the hospital or not, they are touching your life in profound ways. They are ensuring that you, a family member or a neighbor receive the best possible care available.
National Hospital Week and National Nurses Week offer us a powerful reminder of the morale, skill and dedication of the super heroes who work in our hospitals and health systems – nurses, therapists, dietitians, physicians, technicians, aides and others – in constant contact and communication, shaping the patient's experience. They are a vital part of their communities because the services hospitals provide extend well beyond their four walls. They are connecting with local organizations and creating innovative programs to build stronger communities, patient by patient, every day.
A lot has changed through the years as we've celebrated first National Hospital Day, then National Hospital Week and National Nurses Day, then National Nurses Week. One thing that hasn't changed is this: Hospitals are only as good as the people inside them … the people who provide care, prepare food, clean rooms and perform the many tasks that make America's hospitals and health systems the best in the world.
This year's National Hospital Week theme, “The Healing Heart of Healthcare,” recognizes that the core of what a hospital does is taking care of people, one patient at a time. The laying on of skilled hands, reinforced by the power of the heart and mind carried out in the finest ethic of curing and caring is what makes hospitals the special places they are.
This week gives us a chance to say thanks to the people who make the blue and white “H” such a powerful symbol of hope and trust … the people who are “The Healing Heart of Healthcare.”
Find out more on how you can celebrate by visiting AHA.org/HospitalWeek.