Navy Nurse Corps ‘super heroes’ celebrated at Naval Hospital Bremerton

A cut above the rest...Navy Nurse Corps officers take part in the ceremonial cake cutting - and sharing of slices - at Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) commemorating the 111th birthday of the Navy Nurse Corps on May 10, 2019. NHB nurses - active duty, activated reservists, civil service, contractor, volunteer - were also joined by retired nurses at the event, fittingly held at the end of National Nurses Week, which featured a steady week-long schedule of events including various dining affairs to 'Blessing of the Hands,' an ice cream social, and gift giving, all culminated with the Navy Nurse Corps birthday celebration (Official Navy photo by Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs).
May 11, 2019

“Who’s able to leap a tall hospital bed and resuscitate a patient in a single bound?”

That rhetorical question was asked to call attention to just some of the abilities of Navy Nurse Corps by Capt. Thecly Scott, Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) executive officer, Nurse Corps, and keynote speaker as NHB acknowledged National Nurses Week and celebrated the Navy Nurse Corps 111th birthday on May 10, 2019.

“All our nurses are super heroes, which is this year’s theme for the Nurse Corps birthday. Our nurses have a dedicated commitment to saving lives, and the strength to carry out providing care in even the most arduous duties,” said Scott, noting that coming from a family of nurses, her initial impression of nurses came from anecdotes heard at home that seemed to center on bedpans and bedridden patients.

“Until I became a nurse, I really didn’t know nurses are transformational leaders, lifesavers, and make phenomenal changes in the hospital setting. Nurses are the ultimate superheroes,” continued Scott, citing that there is historical precedence at the vital roles military nurses have contributed throughout American history, from the Revolutionary War to Civil War to Spanish American War, both World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and countless other demands, deployments and disasters.

Scott attests that nurses are driven from powers from within. After conducting an unofficial survey asking several staff nurses what special internal strength they have, replies ranged from ‘flexibility’ and ‘adaptability,’ to ‘compassion’ and ‘empathy.’

“There are also milder powers like having ‘lots of humor.’ Nurses are also rays of sunshine, who can brighten even the darkest day,” remarked Scott.

Capt. Johannes M. Bailey, Naval Hospital Bremerton director of Nursing Services, added that all active duty and civilian nurses are considered part of the Nurse Corps at NHB.

“As we look over our past and prepare for the future, for the military from here who have provided health care around the world well beyond our hospital and clinic, that is only possible due to the civilian nurses here providing and caring for patients,” Bailey said.

Throughout the week, trying to get any of the approximately 150 nurses – the majority active duty – assigned to NHB to slow down was almost impossible during National Nurses Week, annually held May 6-12.

That was especially applicable for Lt. Steffany Mattson, who handled coordinating a host of activities to recognize the contributions of all nurses – active duty, activated reservist, civil service, contractor, volunteer – assigned to the command.

It wasn’t until the Navy Nurse Corps celebration that Mattson finally took a pause, only to be surprised by being honored with the Junior Nursing Excellence Award for her ‘commitment to nursing excellence and to nursing as a unique discipline and art.’

“Your demonstrated dedication, contributions to the nursing profession, and clinical expertise have made a positive difference in the quality of care provided to our patients and their families,” shared Bailey to the birthday attendees.

The Junior Nurse Corps Excellence Award was established at NHB to promote morale and recognize outstanding professionalism and service to patients and the command. The nurse must demonstrate dedication to the nursing profession as exhibited by their professional performance in direct patient care and process improvement initiatives.

Mattson is a certified Post-Anesthesia Care Unit nurse, with additional experience in IV conscious sedation, and providing care for patients in the Endoscopy Clinic. Her clinical expertise has proven valuable in the recent command Nursing Skills fair highlighting pain management and malignant hyperthermia.

May 13, 1908 is actually the official Navy Nurse Corps birthday date, coming at the end of National Nurses Week.

May 12 is also a notable date for all nurses as the birthday of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing. It was just two years before Nightingale passed away that then-President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Naval Appropriations Bill, May 13, 1908, to authorize the establishment of the Nurse Corps as a unique staff corps of the Navy.

NHB Nurse Corps officers handle a host of specialties as part of their overall duties, including family nurse practitioner, executive medicine, nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse, perioperative nursing, maternal child, ambulatory, medical surgical, critical care, and pediatric nursing. NHB Nurse Corps staff members are currently embarked participating in Pacific Partnership 2019.

Projecting back 111 years ago when the Navy Nurse Corps came into being, Naval Hospital Bremerton was a 16 bed, wooden, two-story frame building used as ‘Sick Quarters’ on Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. America’s involvement in World War One was still a few years away.

In those times and in those conditions, such as now, it was Navy Nurse Corps super hero powers of compassion, character and competence that were hallmarks in all they did, and in all the care they provided.