In 2020, a nonprofit organization, Nurse Heroes, invited nurses from New York's Northwell Health system to participate in a fundraising effort for nursing scholarships. Along with celebrity guests, the nurses appeared singing in a video that aired on Thanksgiving Day. That appearance led to 18 of the nurses successfully auditioning for the widely watched television show America's Got Talent (AGT), and subsequently performing as the Northwell Health Nurses Choir this past June. The choir's performance earned the nurses a trip to Hollywood and more live performances as they progressed all the way to the competition finals. (Watch their performances here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSvNWOiObv0.) Although the choir did not win, its AGT appearances provided a shining light moment for the nurses and for nursing. (For more information about the choir, see On the Cover.)
The group represents the diversity of nursing. The choir's song choices were thoughtful and a fit for what nurses—and indeed, their patients—experienced during the pandemic. Songs like “Don't Give Up on Me,” “You Are Not Alone,” “Lean on Me,” and “Stand by Me” poignantly reflected the nurses' work. When asked why they did this, one choir member explained in an interview, “It was . . . a trying time for all of us, but one thing that brought us some hope was music.” Another mentioned the need to find joy during a dark time. The AGT judges and audiences lauded them not only for their performances but also for their work as nurses, and the comments on the performance videos on YouTube reflect admiration and respect.
But now “stand by me” could easily represent what nurses and other health care workers are asking of the public, as those who were cheered for their work a few months ago are the targets of anger from patients and families today. Families are frustrated by restrictive visiting rules, mask requirements in hospitals, and watching their loved ones dying from COVID-19, and they are taking their frustration out on health care workers. Some families believe that lifesaving treatments are being withheld. Some have even sued hospitals that refuse to administer unproven treatments like ivermectin (a drug used as a deworming agent).
There are numerous reports of nurse and family encounters escalating to the point of physical violence. According to a September National Nurses United survey of 5,000 nurses, 31% of hospital RNs said they faced workplace violence, up from 22% in March. With a shortage of personnel contributing to long waits for treatment and admission; the general climate against vaccinations and masking; and frustrated, scared families demanding action from exhausted and overwhelmed health professionals, it's no wonder situations have become confrontational and violent.
In Congress, the House recently passed the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (HR 1195), which would require most health care facilities “to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan . . . to protect health care workers, social service workers, and other personnel from workplace violence.” It's currently languishing in the Senate, but even if the bill passes, it will take years to implement.
Some organizations are already taking steps to protect staff. In Branson, Missouri, Cox Medical Center, after seeing patient assaults triple in a year, issued panic buttons to staff to rapidly alert security. Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, added trained dogs to security personnel to prevent incidents.
Nurses didn't sign up for months of being at risk, for risking their families' lives, and for being subjected to abuse and attacks from those they are trying to help. And now, when so many preventable hospitalizations and deaths continue to drain nurses' dwindling reserves, the public seems to have forgotten the toll this pandemic has taken on those they once deemed heroes.
Hospital nurses are becoming an endangered species and protections need to be put in place to ensure their survival. If the public and health care organizations expect nurses to be there when needed, then they need to ensure nurses have the protections of a safe workplace. Nurses don't care about being heroes. They want to be respected, protected, and enabled to do their jobs.
2020年，一个非营利组织 "护士英雄 "邀请纽约诺斯韦尔卫生系统的护士们参加为护理奖学金的筹款活动。与名人嘉宾一起，护士们出现在感恩节播出的视频中唱歌。这次亮相导致18名护士成功地参加了广受关注的电视节目《美国达人》（AGT）的试镜，并随后在今年6月作为诺斯韦尔健康护士合唱团进行表演。合唱团的表演为护士们赢得了好莱坞之旅和更多的现场表演，因为他们一路走到了比赛的决赛。(在这里观看他们的表演：www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSvNWOiObv0。)虽然合唱团没有获胜，但其在AGT的表现为护士和护理工作提供了一个闪亮的时刻。(关于合唱团的更多信息，请看封面）。
该小组代表了护理工作的多样性。合唱团的歌曲选择是经过深思熟虑的，适合护士和他们的病人在大流行期间所经历的情况。像 "不要放弃我"、"你不是一个人"、"靠着我 "和 "站在我身边 "这样的歌曲深刻地反映了护士们的工作。当被问及他们为什么这样做时，一位合唱团成员在采访中解释说："那是......对我们所有人来说都是一个艰难的时刻，但有一件事给我们带来了一些希望，那就是音乐"。另一位提到需要在黑暗时期找到快乐。AGT评委和观众不仅称赞他们的表演，还称赞他们作为护士的工作，YouTube上的表演视频的评论反映了钦佩和尊重。
在国会，众议院最近通过了《保健和社会服务人员工作场所暴力预防法案》（HR 1195），该法案要求大多数保健设施 "制定和实施全面的工作场所暴力预防计划......以保护保健工作人员、医疗机构和社会团体。...以保护医疗保健工作者、社会服务工作者和其他人员免受工作场所暴力"。该法案目前在参议院搁置，但即使该法案获得通过，也需要数年时间才能实施。
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