Nurses—Making a Difference in Global Health
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Living Out the Spirit of Florence Nightingale: Promoting the Voluntary Nursing Services
Jinyuan Zhang, the winner of the prestigious Chinese 39th Florence Nightingale Award, is the founder of Voluntary Nursing Service Center of the Red Cross in Jiangxi province, China. Guided by the principle of “all for one, one for all” and inspired by the spirit of Nightingale, the organization had to conquer countless difficulties in the beginning.
Despite a challenging environment, Zhang first established weekly, door-to-door, free health services and consultation to people living in poor communities. The following services were provided to these inhabitants on a regular basis: physical check-up, medical consultation, and delivery of prescribed drugs.
Zhang worked on standardizing the nursing skills offered in the communities, created health archives for elderly widows, for the disabled, and persons with chronic and mental illness.
Zhang and her group worked efficiently and effectively with the spectrum of diseases experienced by inhabitants of these communities. By doing so, they laid a great foundation for an in-home nursing program.
A large population in Nanchanghave particularly benefitted from Zhang’s in-home nursing program. One man, a senior living in Sopu, still speaks highly of Jinyuan Zhang’s efforts. They first met in June, 2003 while on a home visit in a very poor and and squalid environment. Zhang herself patiently attended the sick man and and even taught the senior how to use freezer bags for pants.
In April, 2009, Jinyuan Zhang traveled to the Minxiang community to help a disabled man with his recovery. Zhang trained the man’s son to help his father’s recovery. He was so grateful, he joined her team as a junior member, determined to helps other in need. Currently there are four groups of junior members who are actively working in the communities.
Under the influence of Jinyuan Zhang, there are now more than 3000 volunteers on her team, compared to ten years ago. The team is divided into 26 voluntary groups and cover about 120 communities. The health consultative services are available to nearly 200,000 citizens within the society and 1120 families receive in-home heath care.
Again, more and more people who specialized in nursing have been inspired by Zhang’s initiative and have asked to participate, contributing kind hearts and professional nursing skills. Citizens of the Jiangxi province constantly sing praise for the contributions Zhang has made to improve health care there.
According to Zhang, her proudest moment came on 17 July 2007 when the CNNTGL was established in Beijing. Yiman Jiang, the vice president of the Chinese Red Cross, considered the activities initiated by Jinyuan Zhang as a great practice model for the Chinese Red Cross. On that day, the Chinese Red Cross officially announced that they would promote her great work around the country. With this honor, Zhang’s first dream came alive.
Her second dream is to begin another three-year training program to develop specialized and qualified nurses to care for the seniors. So far, 33 members have graduated and are employed by nursing homes in the big cities, with 80 newcomers enrolled this year.
Zhang’s last dream is to build a comprehensive service center for the aged in-home health care combining daily nursing care with traditional health services, which remain popularby the citizens.
Jinyuan Zhang, a most respectable woman who is now 82 years old, recently told colleagues, with deep emotion, “ If I were about to leave, I can say it proudly that I have been a nurse my whole life. It is true. I have dedicated myself to this land and spread my love where ever I have gone.”
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