Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kneeling In Blood: Who Is Kate Cumming? Part 9

This series on Kate Cumming is dedicated to all those nurses who give of themselves to heal others. Your kindness, your touch, your wisdom and your unselfish dedication can never be appreciated enough.

To all my sister and brother nurses,
Thank You.

June 25th:
Yesterday we sent many of our sick off. Today the hospital is again filled with wounded.

We are still sending the wounded away who are able to be moved to make room for more, as the battle is still progressing.

June 27th:
We have a great many wounded; the same old story -- men mutilated in every possible way. In one place there are three men lying along side of each other; each has lost a leg. One has just died. I am sick at heart at these scenes, and there seems to be little prospect of a change.

July 1st:
Great excitement in town. News has come that the enemy is across the ricer, and intends shelling the place. We are having hospital flags put up, abut I do not see that they will do any good, as it is said the enemy pay no respect to them. We are packing up in a hurry to move. Our hospital being near the river, we will be honored by the first shot. The house we are now in is marked by last year's shelling.

July 4th:
What a glorious day this was once. Alas! how changed. It is now one of universal sorrow and gloom. If we could only visit the homes of many North and South, what a picture of desolation would be presented!

The hospital is filled with sick and wounded men, and men worn out with hunger and fatigue.

July 6th:
We have just received orders to send every man away. Those who are not able to leave this place are to be sent to other hospitals, as we are so near the river, and would get, in case of an attack, the full benefit of the firing.

July 21st:
I regret leaving Chattanooga as the army is here, but its movements are very uncertain; perhaps before many days we may be much nearer it than we cared for, although Dr. Stout does not seem to think so.



These entries from Kate's journal put me in mind of the more modern army nurse.

Perhaps more than any other event, the roles thrust upon military nurses in war-time changed forever the roles of all nurses who followed them, civilian and military alike.

Military nurses often had to take upon themselves the roles and actions that until that time were in the domain of the physician. Nurses found themselves with more autonomy and more authority than ever before and once having had it thrust among them, they were not about to let it go.

These military nurses returned to states-side duty with a new confidence and new skills. They were quick to share these skills and to advocate that each nurse could utilize them in the best interest of the patient. So was nursing forever changed.

Military nurses had to think quickly, move quickly and heal quickly.

Shelling, as Kate described was a reality. Those who grew up in my era may remember watching the television show M*A*S*H in which the mobile hospital was bombed and shelled on a routine basis. Yet, surgery continued on, and at the side of those patients undergoing surgery were surgical nurses.

So for all those nurses who have worn a military uniform
instead of a nursing uniform, I thank you.
I thank you for serving our country and for changing our profession.
You have added dimensions and strengths
to nursing of which we might never completely be aware.

Thank you for your sacrifice, for leaving your families,
for healing our troops, for holding a hand of one dying.
Thank you for caring to be willing to go.

No comments: