Nursing A Dying Profession

In loving memory of all the nurses we have lost and keep losing to Covid-19.

There is a protest organized by one of the most vocal Nurse’s association in the United Kingdom. Its aim is to decry the segregation of nurses when the Tories government decided to raise pay for senior doctors and teachers. This was as a sign of appreciation during the almost ending first bout of Covid-19 pandemic.

Since the Crimean War birthed Florence Nightingale, nursing has continued to be viewed as merely a vocation and not a true profession. They coined the “it is a calling” slogan, whipped it with enough gaslighting and fed it down the throats of professional nurses. It is nurses, not nuns. A profession, not a calling. But who is listening.

Nurses in the United Kingdom are sort of fed up with claps for their effort and slaps for their pay. Below-inflation raises is what they got the last time a pay was discussed. Perhaps even the threads that hold the prim, proper and highly cultured fabric of the British persona are getting loose. When a Brit protests, then things are not just bad but horrible.

Still there are ways of raising concerns. There are protocols that are in place and the upcoming protest is one of the ways to register displeasure. God speed fellow UKRNs.

Let’s Go to Kenya

Nurses are struggling to get quality personal protective equipment. So far, Kenya has lost at least four nurses to the Covid-19 and all we hear is a loud defeaning silence. When one of the doctors passed on (may she rest in peace) , the airwaves came to a standstill. In fact, my president, during his last address was kind enough to pass a word of condolences.

At the same , we had already lost two nurses. Clifford Manyara Mburia was a 58 year old Nurse anaesthetist at Kitengela Medical Centre. Covid-19 snatched him away from us.

Moses Gitonga Ringera was a 49 year old clinical nurse at the University of Nairobi. Two gentlemen with souls of pure gold. Two nurses who paid the ultimate sacrifice; with their lives. Yet in the heat of the moment, we have chosen to forget their names. When the dailies report on their deaths, their cadre gets lost in the blanket of healthcare workers. We have a name. We are nurses. Say our names.

We ignore the plight of nurses. When they complain, we hastily christen it as dancing on the graves of patients. Yet before those words left my mouth, we have a fresh grave of Nurse Marian Adumbo. The sun and the moon haven’t even shone on the chilling memory of her demise but we badly want to move on as a nation.

Let us talk about Nurse Marian

Marian, as she was fondly called by those dear and near attended the prestigious Asumbi girls high school. She was to later join Lwak girls and study Nursing in Nyabondo. Being a people’s person, Marian pursued a Bachelor of Science in Public Health at JKUAT university. She never confined herself to clinical nursing. Like an eagle, she spread her wings and flew high in the sky.

Marian was pregnant when Covid-19 struck. She should have been able to shield from work if the presidential orders were respected at hospital levels.

She gave her work all she had and eventually contracted Covid-19. It took enormous effort from fellow nurses to get physicians to attend to her properly. Marian held on even when the oxygen saturation in her blood kept fluctuating. She clung onto dear life to bring to the world a beautiful baby boy.

We sighed with relief as we heard reports of her recuperation postnatally. It therefore came as a sharp sword to the nursing backbone when she breathed her last. One baby left without a mum. One more nurse taken by the tentacles of Covid-19.

Shall we talk about risks?

The risks nurses undergo almost always become fatal. By it’s very nature, nursing has a truckload of occupational hazards. If you are not being spat on and slapped and called names by patients and their relatives, you are being given substandard personal protective equipment by the government. Or harangued by camera-happy politicians to work under inhumane conditions.

Perhaps that knowledge informed the decision to include a risk allowance in the pay of all healthcare workers. However, it is a cesspool of lies laced with a deeply set conspiracy theory to pay nurses Kes.3,850 every month as a risk allowance. Hear me out.

A pay of Kes.3850 is not even enough to cover all the vaccinations a nurse should ideally get before working in the clinical setting. On top of that, the NHIF cover does not recognize nurses as civil servants. This is so if they are of a job group lower than L. They end up providing for services that they themselves can’t afford. Other civil servants get comprehensive medical insurance but nurses do not. That is the extent to which we have diminished the nursing profession.

We treat nurses like a post script of medicine. Never the core of the system. They are an appendix of healthcare. Until Covid-19 happens and then we call them heroes. The difference between the betrayal of nurses in UK and Kenya is that UK waited for the pandemic to wane down before sticking sharp shards of glass to the souls of nurses. Kenya is doing it smack in the middle of the pandemic. A bold display of unregulated, gut wrenching ignominy. The gospel of the untouchables.

It therefore comes as no surprise that nurses may get such quality education in Kenya, get the requisite experience then pack their bags and leave for foreign countries.

Betrayal, friends of God, tastes better when served by strangers and like slimy undercooked mushrooms when served by family. I’d rather be hurt by the systems in UK , Canada, America or even Australia to name but a few, which I may or may not understand than watch in horror as the place I call home throws me to the dogs. No offense to dogs.

It is a mental workout to be a nurse in Kenya. A constant emotional cardio exercise. Probably all over the world but more so in my motherland. It sears like the edges of six serrated knives. All to the gut.

Nursing is not a profession of administering medication. Any person can hold a syringe and needle. Anyone can pop tablets and give them to patients. Nurses undergo intensive training to understand the human body. Not only do they aim to restore the physiological processes that go haywire when illness strike, but they also target to restore the emotional, psychological well being.

In fact, a definition of health by WHO that I like is; ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity ‘(WHO 1948)

Show me a person that upholds that and I will confidently show you a nurse. Nurses are not asking for promotion into doctorate positions. They can do that by themselves. They have studied and are studying towards that. All nurses are asking for is for space at the table of health equality. Some semblance of recognition if the fact that they are human before they are nurses.

The nurses that have died so far are friends to people, they are mothers and mothers, sisters and brothers, wives and husbands and children of loving parents. Protecting us is protecting the world. Paying us some sort of appropriate dues is respect to the work we do. We are here to nurse the world back to health. We will not do it in atmospheres rife with malice and disdainful scorn.

The world was comfortable with doctors until Florence Nightingale showed up in the war with nothing but a cap on her head and a lamp on her hand to nurse soldiers back to health. The world will remain comfortable until she realizes that she needs a nurse. You will never do without a nurse. You may hold on but you’ll break. This is that one time in history we are asking , in the name of everything you consider holy, to protect nurses.

All nurses with underlying medical conditions must be allowed to shield and be fully paid. Stop recalling retired Intensive Care Nurses when we have young and healthy unemployed nurses. Is it that hard to do the Math? Suspend all contracts that make nurses slaves of paycheck. Absorb them into permanent and pensionable terms. That way they have no reason to risk their lives.

To the nurse managers, it is your responsibility to protect nurses that are under you. One day that office you occupy will be occupied by someone else. What you want is for the nurses to never forget what you made them feel. Your role is especially critical during Covid-19 pandemic. Inspect the personal protective equipment as they get delivered and should they fail the required standards, please return to sender.

John Lewis (may he rest in peace) left us with an admonition that if we see something is wrong we surely must say something about it; we owe it to the world to DO something about it. That is what we are called to do as nurses. Do things to make others right.

Marian’s promotion to glory is a call for all nurses to remember our own vulnerability. To be here for one another and in a thunderous cry, say enough is just about enough. Expressing our opinion will not alter the flow of water in the high seas but will cause ripples in the ponds and tributaries that feed into the ocean.

The following is a song we call the Nurses Anthem.

There is a candle, in every soul,some brightly burning, some dark and cold
There is a Spirit who brings a fire
Ignites a candle and makes His home

Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn
And hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

Frustrated brother, see how he’s tried to
Light his own candle some other way
See now your sister, she’s been robbed and lied to
Still holds a candle without a flame

So carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn
And hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

‘Cause we are a family whose hearts are blazing
So let’s raise our candles and light up the sky
Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus
Make us a beacon in darkest times

Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the hopeless, deceived and poor
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

Source: LyricFind

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