When you talk about frontline workers, it doesn’t get any more frontline than nurses. So it’s only apropos that National Nurses Week happens to fall in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Don’t expect much in the way of celebrations, though. At least not celebrations involving the actual nurses themselves. They’re too busy saving lives, working 12-hour shifts and making sure our beleaguered hospitals, urgent care centers, doctors’ offices and long-term care facilities keep running as smoothly as they can during the crisis.
As one hospital system told us, given the pandemic and the inability to gather in groups, the usual National Nurses Week events will not be held, though the caregivers will be honored later and 2020 marked as the Year of the Nurse.
National Nurses Week began May 6, which is recognized as National Nurses Day, and runs through May 12. Mayor de Blasio mentioned that it was National Nurses Day at his press briefing Wednesday.
Reflecting the city’s gratitude, he said it is “unbelievable, just absolutely breathtaking what the nurses of New York City have done during this crisis. They’re heroes in this city; they’re heroes to this whole nation. So, I think it’s a fair statement if there’s any New Yorker out there or any American out there who didn’t appreciate our nurses before, well they damn sure well appreciate them now.”
President Trump honored nurses at the White House, saying, “They have nothing on their mind except helping people and making people better. It’s incredible.”
Here in the city, people thank nurses, along with other frontline workers both in and out of the healthcare industry, every evening with the 7 p.m. cheer. Some bring them gifts such as homemade snacks; others have donated personal protective equipment. Both are welcome — though it should not be up to volunteers to ensure nurses have the PPE they need. Online, you can find things like lists of the top gift ideas for nurses, such as food delivery gift cards.
Before the virus crisis, you could walk into a medical center and not be able to tell which nurse was just beginning a shift and which was ending it — they showed the same vigor and dedication the entire time. While the virus has confronted them with worse situations than many have ever seen, and their role as comforter has expanded greatly with patients unable to have visitors, nurses keep their heads high and do their jobs. We salute them.