National Nurses Week celebrates contributions to health 

Whistler nurses come for the skiing and stay for the community

>They’re the ones that carry you to a bed on a wooden board after you’ve put a foot wrong on the halfpipe. They’re the ones that strip off your heavy snowpants to examine a leg broken during a failed attempt at a cork 9. They’re the ones who administer your bandages after you’ve haphazardly skied into a tree.

>They’re nurses, and this is their week.

>May 12-18 has been designated National Nursing Week by the Canadian Nursing Association (CNA). Nurses across the country are being encouraged to show Canadians the “wide scope of nursing,” according to the CNA website. It also asks people to challenge their perceptions of the role of nurses in the Canadian health system.

>Much is happening to commemorate the occasion in British Columbia. Provincial health minister George Abbott has proclaimed May 13 as “Licensed Practical Nurses Day” to recognize the contributions made by nurses to health care in communities throughout the province.

>“Since 2001, the number of licensed practical nurses in B.C. has increased by more than 42 per cent to 6,741,” he said in a news release. “Licensed practical nurses are integral members of healthcare teams across B.C. and declaring a day in their honour allows us to recognize the important work licensed practical nurses do every day to help ensure that we meet the healthcare needs of British Columbians.”

>Elsewhere, nurses are spending Nursing Week immersed in political action. The B.C. Nurses’ Union (BCNU) is organizing a postcard campaign to Premier Gordon Campbell to advocate for nurses’ rights to be involved in patient care.

>BCNU members will be receiving a letter from president Debra McPherson that describes a campaign to address overcrowding in the health care system. The letter will include a postcard addressed to the Premier.

>The union is also holding its second annual Nursing Week conference from May 15-16 at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver. Speakers will include Surrey North MP Penny Priddy, a former B.C. Minister of Health.

>Further north, the Whistler Health Care Centre (WHCC) is celebrating Nursing Week by recognizing the work of its own nurses internally.

>Anne Townley, Clinical Services Coordinator at the WHCC, has set up a posterboard and banner for the nurses and put up a series of pictures of the nurses working. She’ll also be giving out gift certificates donated by the physicians at the WHCC.

>A nurse who’s been in Whistler since 1982, Townley hopes that people take the time to recognize the work that nurses do for Whistler residents year-round.

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