Army Nurse Corps marks 110 years of touching lives
February 10, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 10, 2011) -- Last week the Army Nurse Corps celebrated its 110th anniversary of standing shoulder to shoulder with Soldiers and providing care for all military service members and their families throughout every major conflict. The theme was "Touching Lives for 110 Years."
To commemorate the event, Maj. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, deputy surgeon general and chief of the Army Nurse Corps, laid a wreath at the Nurses Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Feb. 2.
"This theme really resonated with me and illustrates what I believe is the true essence of Army nursing. We have been on the battlefield, serving with our fellow warriors, throughout our rich history and we continue to do so today," Horoho said at the anniversary celebration dinner Feb. 5.
She also told the gathered dignitaries that she had received word that the 110th Army Nurse Corps anniversary was commemorated by a Senate resolution.
"What an honor to see the corps that we all love so much acknowledged in this way and documented forever in the congressional record. And what a tribute to Army nursing and the entire AMEDD (Army Medical Department) health care team that is honored by the privilege to provide care to all those entrusted to our care.
"I want to share one small part of resolution 31 with you: 'Today as Soldiers serve our nation, defending freedom across the globe, they can rest assured, would they get injured or become ill, an Army nurse will be by their side, said Sen. Dan Inouye of Hawaii, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska,'" Horoho said.
HISTORY PREDATES CORPS
Although Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee, born in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, 1864, fostered the establishment of an organization that would later become the Army Nurse Corps in 1901, nurses first began working alongside Soldiers not long after the newly-named Commander in Chief Gen. George Washington asked Congress for "a matron to supervise the nurses, bedding, etc," and for nurses "to attend the sick and obey the matron's orders."
Two years later, a nurse's pay had risen from $2 per month and one ration per day in 1775, to $8 per month with the matron making $15 per month -- both still received the allotted daily ration.
During the Revolutionary War, the Second Continental Congress submitted a plan for a medical department to Washington, which allowed one nurse for every 10 patients. To oversee provisions, wards, beds, and utensils, one matron was allotted to every 100 sick or wounded.
After the war, patient care was performed by Soldiers and the medical department ceased to exist until the War of 1812. After the Spanish-American War ended, the ebb and flow of nurses had dwindled to 210 nurses serving under contract with the Army in 1900.
Today, more than 9,000 Army nurses -- both men and women -- serve all over the globe on Active Duty, in the U.S. Army Reserve, and in the National Guard in support of military and humanitarian missions.
During the Civil War and nearly 100 years before development of the mid-20th century concept of progressive patient care, Louisa May Alcott served for six weeks as a nurse at the Union Hospital in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. In her letters home, collected as Hospital Sketches, she wrote of separating patients, according to their needs:
"My ward was now divided into three rooms; and, under favor of the matron, had managed to sort out the patients in such a way that I had what I called my 'duty room,' my 'pleasure room,' and my 'pathetic room,' and worked for each in a different way. One, I visited with a dressing tray full of rollers, plasters, and pins; another, with books, flowers, games, and gossips; a third, with teapots, lullabies, consolation and --sometimes -- a shroud."
Since then, the Army Nurse Corps has continually learned from the past, by implementing regulations to define duties, pay and privileges for nurses in 1899; moving toward specialization in such areas as psychiatry in 1946; anesthesiology in 1947; operating room technique and management three weeks later; and research with the first Phyllis J. Verhonick Nursing Research Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, in 1981.
Horoho follows in the footsteps of the many distinguished and forward-thinking leaders of the corps who've gone before her, including: Dorothea Lynde Dix (1861); Dr. McGee (1898); Dita H. Kinney (1901); Jane A. Delano (1909), Isabel McIsaac (1912); Dora E. Thompson, the fourth superintendent of the Nurse Corps and the first regular Army nurse (1914); and Dora E. Thompson, a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal for her leadership of the corps during World War I (1919).
"Army nursing continues to embrace the past, engage the present and envision the future in support of Army medicine," Horoho said at the dinner.
TRANSFORMING FOR FUTURE
To make good on this statement, she is taking the lead and transforming the corps to ensure adoption of the Surgeon General's Culture of Trust, which Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker said will standardize patients' health care experiences, outcomes, readiness, and reinforce trust in Army medicine.
Under her guidance and direction, Horoho designed the Army Nursing System of Care, or ANSOC, to provide the same standard of health care delivery in every military treatment facility across the Army.
ANSOC was piloted at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Ky. -- named for former Superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps Col. Florence a. Blanchfield, a registered nurse and the first to receive a commission in the regular Army. Over the next year, this program will be implemented across all Army facilities.
Horoho believes that the Army Nurse Corps has the opportunity to drive change and support, not only Army medicine, but the profession of nursing.
"When I refer to Army nursing, I am speaking of Active, Reserve and National Guard nurses; civilian nurses, registered and licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants; and our enlisted corps -- this is the triad and cornerstone of our system," Horoho said at the anniversary dinner.
SYMBOL OF CARE
During her presentation to gathered nurses -- past and present, Army senior leaders, including the Army surgeon general -- Horoho presented, for the first time, the symbol of the Army Nursing System of Care: an encircled star.
"The five points of the star represent the elements of the Army Nursing System of Care. These include patient/family centered care, enhanced communication, capability building/talent management, evidence based, and healthy work environment. The blue encompassing circle, surrounding and interconnecting with the tips of the star, represents the global leadership of Army nursing," she said.
Army nurses, she said, continue to lean far forward and build on the brave traditions of all of the nurses who came before them.
"We are honored to serve those who selflessly put themselves in harm's way every day for this nation. We proudly serve the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, retired service members, and their families," Horoho said.
Just over two years ago when Horoho became chief of the Army Nurse Corps, she said in her acceptance speech at Fort Lewis, Wash., that she had a 15-year blueprint to revamp the corps.
"The plan will be driven by courage to do the right thing, innovation to meet the rapidly evolving war, fighting and medical demands of the 21st century, and constant compassion for those we serve and those with whom we serve. We will critically assess ourselves and the care we provide in every location along the continuum of care from the forward surgical teams in the thick of battle to the combat support hospitals under mortar fire and back home to our hospitals and clinics, where we care for warriors of all generations and their families," Horoho was reported to have said.
Horoho, a registered nurse, earned her bachelor's degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her master's as clinical trauma nurse specialist from the University of Pittsburgh. She's also a graduate of the Army's Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, where she earned a second master's in national resource strategy.