Honoring a nursing pioneer who told us to wash our hands

Dean Linda Weglicki
March 13, 2020
Dean Linda Weglicki

Florence Nightingale’s medical care policies are still relevant today.

Painting of Florence Nightingale 
Painting of Florence Nightingale.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse. This designation honors the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth on May 12, 1820 and recognizes the essential role nurses and midwives have played in shaping and modernizing today's health care. 

Given the growing spread of the new coronavirus worldwide, Nightingale's fundamental principles on the importance of good hygiene and infection control, as outlined more than 160 years ago in her book, “Notes on Nursing,” continue to have significant relevance to today's promotion of public and population health.

Coronavirus Cells

Nurses around the world are integral members of the health care workforce caring for the increasing number of people manifesting symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the coronavirus. Additionally, nurses must keep abreast of COVID-19's rapidly changing epidemiology and growing incidence while keeping their patients calm. They have to educate the public on ways to prevent the spread of infection and care for symptoms if they occur.

By encouraging everyone to follow well-established principles and practices of infection control we can help prevent outbreaks of the disease.

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with either an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water for 20 to 30 seconds
  • Dry your hands with a paper towel and throw it away. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the coronavirus.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, or cough/sneeze into your elbow.
  • Avoid shaking hands when greeting people.
  • Stay home when sick with flu-like symptoms.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • If you develop or have close contact with someone with flu-like symptoms, call your health care provider and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure.

Also, please encourage friends and family to use credible resources for information, like the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention (CDC) or your local public health department. These sites will have the most updated information as well as travel restrictions for your area. 

Nurses are one of the most trusted and respected members of the health care team and vital to promoting and improving public health outcomes locally as well as around the world.

In kindness and caring, 

Dean Linda Weglicki

About the Author

Dean Linda Weglicki

Keywords: Deans Message, Spring 2020