Amazing courage from our fellow Nurses in Gaza, Palestine

Amazing courage from our fellow Nurses in Gaza, Palestine

Last night in Gaza, a Palestinian hospital was bombed by Israeli Government troops and many patients and staff  were killed, including two in the Intensive Care Unit. Social Media has shown pictures of many whole families including children that have died.I am in awe of the courage that our fellow Nurses and Drs and therapists show in these situations.

In Sheri Finks’ two books detailing working in these types of situations its unfathomable and unthinkable how nurses can go about their work in such situations. I read “Five Days at Memorial” last year and it really brought home to me how courageous we as a profession are in difficult situations. “Five Days at Memorial “ details the five days at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. Its an extremely well written and evocative book which opens the reader up to many situations one may never have thought they would have to face. It really underlines what happens when patient safety and risk management are ignored by slack executives.

Sheri Finks has written several books but the other one that details working in a war zone is called “War Hospital” and details the experiences of a group of doctors and nurses in Srebrenica in 1992. Its a horrifying book but it underlines the courage that these health care professionals demonstrated in horrific circumstances.

Throughout history Nurses have shown great courage, from the nurses who worked in the Crimea and the two World Wars, to the American Civil war nurses. Many of these nurses kept diaries and journals and they are a great resource for reading about just what courage means.

But, What does courage mean to everyday nurses like you and I? It means advocating for our patients in difficult budgetary times and often with superiors whose focus is far removed from the patient. Courage means having to put aside our own emotions and support families in the toughest of times.This week has seen a world in turmoil with the shooting down of MH17 and the loss of family after family, who were all just going about their peaceful business. It has seen the loss of at least six AIDS professionals were were traveling to a conference to share their knowledge. It feels like the worlds gone mad and somehow compassion for our fellow man has disintegrated.

So, hang on to your own “Courage” and keep fighting the good fight, delivering the best, compassionate care that you can deliver to your fellow human beings and lets hope some good comes out of this week of unspeakable tragedy.


Toni Hoffman A.M (RN., ICU Cert., BN., Master of Bioethics., Grad Cert in Management)

toniToni Hoffman completed her initial nursing training at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane and then went travelling for several years whilst also studying in the UK. She worked for six and a half years in Saudi Arabia including during the Gulf war. In 2000 Toni came to work as the NUM of the ICU at Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland. She came to national prominence after exposing issues regarding patient complications and deaths in what became known as the Jayant Patel case. Toni was awarded the Australian of the Year Local hero in 2006 National Australian of the year Local Hero Regional Queensland 2006. The Pride of Australia medal for Courage. The Whistleblower of the Year award 2006 and in the Queens Birthday Honours list she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for services to nursing and to the community through concern for the wellbeing of patients in the public health care system and advocacy roles to improve standards of medical care.

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