By Timothy Blake Donohoo
Nurses With Global Impact, Inc. (NWGI) celebrated the worldwide impact of nurses during the 4th and 5th annual International Nurses Day Celebration on May 14, paying tribute to 16 nurses for their extraordinary care and devotion to the profession. The combined event reflects last year’s celebration being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms. Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, NWGI founder and a Gold Trustee, began the virtual event by sharing that the organization’s goal was always to celebrate nurses whose tireless heroism in the trenches might otherwise be overlooked.
“Although we need nurses in a variety of positions, the nurses we profile are typically not the ones in offices with lots of awards surrounding them. This is what Nurses With Global Impact is all about,” she said. “The caliber and types of nurses we have honored throughout the past 5 years, including today, continue to amaze me with their humility, love, and pride for the profession of nursing. They are the role models we want our future generations to emulate.”
Ms. O’Hara-Rusckowski provided an inspiring overview of each nurse honoree, beginning with Margaret Barton-Burke, who has conducted chemotherapy treatments in Kenya and Nigeria while serving as President of the Oncology Nursing Society.
Nurse honoree Dr. Cathy Miller was nominated by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Dr. Miller is a leader in combatting human trafficking and has offered training on tackling the scourge of human trafficking. Her research has benefited organizations such as Shared Hope International. She has worked as an ER and ICU nurse as well as the Co-Chair of the Texas Coastal Bend Border Region Human Trafficking Task Force, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Tyler, and Research Professor at Texas A&M University Corpus Christie.
“I personally have known Cathy over the last decade, as our paths crossed frequently in anti-human trafficking work,” Ms. O’Hara-Rusckowski said. “It’s now such an honor for me, not only to bestow this honor to her, but to work closely with her as she provides the evidence-based research we need to share with health systems around the globe when it comes to human trafficking.”
The Gold Foundation supported the virtual event, which illuminated the humanism of nurses around the globe. Becton Dickinson (BD), a founding member of the Gold Corporate Council, was the lead sponsor.
“The International Nurses Day Celebration is one of the many inspiring ways that the Gold Foundation collaborates to honor nurses. We salute Deb and NWGI for organizing such an inspiring event and ensuring that nurses on the front lines are recognized for their humanistic care,” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, Gold Foundation President & CEO.
This year’s gathering highlighted the pivotal role of nurses throughout the crisis and noted that 2020 was declared The International Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization, recognizing the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth
“I join everyone in saying, Thank God for Nurses! Nurses who were on the front lines, as usual, carrying for those stricken by the horrible coronavirus, risking your own lives for the sake of others – you never stop. And you still haven’t stopped,” said Ms. O’Hara-Rusckowski. “We are forever indebted to you.”
The nurse honorees received a Simon Pearce engraved crystal bowl to signify their hard work and dedication, as well as special pendants crafted by the LOLA jewelry company.
“It’s become a tradition for past recipients to wear their awards to show their support for the celebration and what it stands for,” she said.
The event also featured two keynote speakers. The first speaker, Dr. Elissa Ladd, was Associate Professor at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute of Health Professions in Boston. She was an honoree at the 2019 International Nurses Day Celebration, which was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. This year, she shared a presentation highlighting the struggles, hard work and triumphs experienced by nurses in 2020. The video showed nurses across the globe dealing with massive hospital overflow, lack of PPE and an even greater dearth of sleep.
“We elevated nursing throughout the world and led individuals to recognize the many roles that we fill in global healthcare,” Dr. Ladd said.
The event’s secondary theme was combatting human trafficking, which has spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second keynote speaker was Jenna McKaye, a survivor of sex trafficking and an activist working to end its hold on people across the globe. She recounted her personal story of becoming trapped in human trafficking as a young woman. After being cut off from her from her family and trying to start anew, the signs of her abuse were recognized during a routine checkup, where her life change after she came to understand her own situation.
“I was able to understand that it wasn’t my fault, what happened to me, and I began to heal,” Ms. McKaye said.
Since then, she has shared her past trauma and worked to help those who’ve suffered a similar fate. This has included helping to train healthcare personnel to recognize the signs of human trafficking, as well as provide a safe haven for those who’ve been trapped as she was.
NWGI donated registration fees from International Nurses Day Celebration to support such training of healthcare professionals.
Ms. O’Hara-Rusckowski ended the ceremony with a final reflection of gratitude to nurses.
“A huge thank you to all of the nurses, those recognized today and those who attended to show their support and give their friends and colleagues the praise they deserve,” she said. “I’m sure all will agree when I say this world is a better place because you are all in it.”
To learn more about this event, visit the Nurses With Global Impact, Inc., website