People

To The Doctors + Nurses

As a child, I saw how deeply Mum’s work as a nurse impacted her patients. With her starched white cap and her carefully ironed white dress, she would leave the house with purpose – be it in the wee hours of the morning, or after a long day of driving me to and from school, orchestra, piano lessons, Brownies.

Mum wouldn’t talk about the things she saw and did at the hospital – neither the successes nor the suffering. But, I would see signs of her influence everywhere: the grateful families who would break into smiles and stop us in the street, the stacks of thank-you cards quietly preserved under photo-album plastic, the beautifully illustrated letter memorializing when Mum was declared an ‘honorary Haida’ for all of her nursing work up North.

Many decades later, I became one of the deeply medically grateful. Grateful for the surgical teams who took Mum’s 80 year old heart out of her chest, scraped off the calcification, put it back in and released her to another decade of vibrant living. Grateful for the nurses who talked to Dad about radio plays and Bach as he lay dying. Grateful for the doctor who stood with us as Dad passed. Grateful for the doctor who, five years later, told us with clear-headed kindness that Mum would not wake up this time. Grateful for the nurses who tended her deep into the night when our bodies could no longer fight sleep.

Now, our medical warriors – doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, hospital cleaners – are leaving their homes with a new purpose: battle a rapacious virus with eyes for patient and healer. May our scientific geniuses and their AI helpers concoct a vaccine in record time. In the meantime, we will do all we can to bend the curve – aka: stay home – and support our medical front line.

‘Thank you’ is not sufficient, but we are ever grateful for all that you do.

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Luis Jiménez Aranda. La visita al hospital. 1889

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15 year old Pablo Picasso. Science and Charity. 1897

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Robert Humphrey Giles. A girl reads to a convalescent while a nurse brings in the patient’s medicine. 18oos.

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Sir Alexander Morison. Richard Dadd. 1852

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The Nurse. Edgar Degas. 1872-73

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Nikolay Aleksandrovich Yaroshenko. Sister of Mercy. 1886

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Thomas Eakins. The Gross Clinic. Portrait of Dr. Samuel Gross. 1875

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Joaquín Sorolla. Research. 1897

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Enrique Paternina García-Cid. La visita de la madre al hospital. 1892

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Norah Nielson Gray. The Scottish Women’s Hospital – in the Cloister of the Abbaye at Royaumont. Dr. Frances Ivens inspecting a French patient. 1920

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W. Eugene Smith. Country Doctor. 1948

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Lev Kotlyarov. Nurses Taking a Rest After A Shift. 1980s

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Written by Elizabeth Newton
www.creatorsvancouver.com

Header: Albert Murray. Portrait of Captain Ann Agnes Bernatitus. 1942

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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton