Lady With Lamp

“What should we call her?” asked Mr. Nightingale as he held his newborn daughter. “What should we call our little
girl born in Florence, Italy?” “That’s it!” said her mother. “Let’s call her Florence! When we’re home in England we’ll always remember where we were on this special day.” When Florence turned one, the family moved home to
Embly Park in England. Florence had a good childhood. She never went hungry, and her parents gave her a good
education. By age 16, Florence felt called to become a nurse. She went with her mother to visit the poor, and she soon began taking food and supplies to the needy all by herself. She spent time tending the sick in her neighborhood, and this made her want to become a nurse even more. However, her family wasn’t convinced. “Florence, I’m glad you want to help others,” said her father, “but being a nurse is a dirty, smelly, dangerous job. Someone else can take care of the sick. I’ll help you find something more noble to do with your time.” “What could be more noble than to help the helpless?!” asked Florence. “I know it is difficult, but please let me try.” Florence continued serving her neighbors and teaching herself about medicine. When she turned 30 years old, her parents finally let her go to Germany for four months of nursing school, and later she became the superintendent of a women’s hospital in London.

In 1854, Great Britain joined several other countries to fight against Russia in the Crimean War. When British soldiers were wounded in battle, they went to a military hospital with terrible living conditions. The Scutari Hospital was an old building with poor air ventilation, leaky sewers, and few supplies. Soldiers in the hospital were ten times more likely to die of disease and infection than to die of their battle wounds.
When Florence heard what was happening at Scutari Hospital, she joined a group of 38 female nurses who went to help the sick and hurting soldiers. When they arrived, Florence and her team reorganized the supplies, thoroughly cleaned the rooms and equipment, and greatly improved patient care. Once the hospital ventilation and sewer systems were fixed, the death and infection rate went down.

Florence stayed at Scutari Hospital for three years, taking care of the sick and helping where she could. She became
known as the “Lady with the Lamp” because she would make rounds at night to check on the soldiers. The poet
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow even wrote about Florence in a poem: Lo! in that hour of misery, A lady with a lamp I see, Pass through the glimmering gloom, And flit from room to room.

When she returned home to England, Florence started the Nightingale Training School for Nurses so she could prepare others to care for the sick. Graduates from her school were wanted in hospitals as far away as the United States. With a heart of compassion, Florence Nightingale inspired thousands to look out for others and offer
help in times of need.


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