Florence

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  • Publicado : 7 de diciembre de 2010
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INPUT: FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE ( \) The story goes back to the middle of the nineteenth century. England was at war with Russia, and an English army was fighting in the Crimea. Disturbing reports, chiefly from the pen of William Russell, The Times reporter, began to come to England of the terrible conditions in the hospitals where our wounded men were being treated. The chief hospital,the one at Scutari in Turkey, was an old barrack/ It was built over a vast drain up wbich the wind blew evil-smelling aire The floors were broken and the building was swarming with rats and mice. But even this horrible place was overcrowded. There were hardly any beds, and men were lying on the floor, in the passages, anywhere. There were no clean shirts for the men, and they lay in theirblood-soaked rags. They were dying in thousands, not of their wounds so mucb as of sickness. The only nurses were old soldiers long past fighting age, who knew notbing of nursing and were quite unable to do the work. ( 2-) That was the terrible positíon when Sidney Herbert, the Minister for War, wrote to Florence Nightingale asking if she would go out to the Crimea witb a band of nurses. His lettercrossed hers in the post offering her services. Within a week she was ready, and with thirtyeight nurses she sailed for Scutari. No woman had already organised work like this, and the home of Florence Nightingale was almost the last place that you would have expected a nurse to come from. In her day, nursing was done only by women of the lowest moral class, dirty, drunken creatures such as Dickens haddrawn in his picture of Mrs. Gamp. In fact, when women were charged in the police-courts they were often given the choice of going to prison or to hospital service. ( ~)The Nightingales moved in the highest social class. Cabinet Ministers were frequent visitors to their house. They were very wealthy; they had two large country houses and a town house in London. They travelled a good deal, andFlorence (she was so called beca use she was born in the city oí Florence in 1820) was highly educated in music, art, literature, Latin and Greek. She spoke Italian, French and German with ease, was attractive, and was expected to marry one of tbe numerous admirers wbo carne to tbe Nightingales' borne. [Y)But ever since she was a child she had nursed the villagers and the sick dogs and cats and horsesround her horne and had had a passion

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to be a nurse. Her parents were horrified and did all they could to prevent it, but Florence was not to be turned aside. Whenever she was abroad she visited hospitals, she read, secretly, books on nursing, reports of medical societies, histories of hospitals. She spent some weeks as a sister in a hospital in Paris and three months in a nursingschool at Kaiserwerth in Germany, and kept up a constant struggle with her parents. Finally her singleness of aim and her resolution won the day. Her mother -with tears in her eyes- agreed to Florence becoming superintendent of an "Establishment for Gentlewomen during ilIness" in Harley Street, the fashionable street of London's most famous doctors. She had been there ayear when the Crimean War brokeout. It was from there that she wrote to Sidney Herbert, whom she knew personally, offering her services. (s. )When she arrived at Scutari she found conditions even worse than the reports had stated. The War Office had told her "nothing was lacking at Scutari". She found that everything was lacking, furniture, clothes, towels, soap, knives, plates. There were no bandages and no linen to makebandages, few medicines and scarcely any proper food. Luckily (or perhaps it wasn't luck but good organisation) she had brought with her large quantities of food, soups, wines and medical supplies. Everywhere she met with inefficiency and confusion, and everywhere difficulties were put in her way by the officials in charge. As the officials working "according to Army Regulations" could not, or would...
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