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Florence Nightingale was a famous nurse and icon who was also known as the “Lady with the Lamp.” She was given this name by British soldiers she treated in the Crimean War in their fight against Russia for control of the Ottoman Empire.  Florence was asked by the British Secretary of State in 1854 to organize a corps of nurses to tend to the sick and fallen soldiers.  Florence assembled a team of 34 nurses and sailed with them to Crimea where she found injured soldiers in horrid conditions in the British base hospital.  The hospital sat on top of a large cesspool which contaminated the water and the hospital building.  Nightingale quickly went to work.  She procured hundreds of scrub brushes and got the least infirm patients to help clean the hospital floor to ceiling.  Nightingale spent nearly every waking minute caring for soldiers.  In the evenings, she moved through her rounds in the dark hallways carrying a lamp.  Her work reduced the hospital’s death rate by two-thirds.

The soldiers under her care were both moved and comforted by her tireless care and compassion.  Florence was born in Italy to an affluent British family. Rather than live a life of high society, she felt a calling to help others.  From a young age, she actively ministered to the ill and poor people in a village near her family’s estate.  At 16 years old, it became clear to her that nursing was her calling.  As a nurse, Nightingale vastly improved sanitary conditions at Middlesex hospital in London where she worked and established a number of innovations that improved patient comfort. She helped save the lives of many British soldiers at Crimea.

From her experience there, she wrote Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army, an 830 page report.  The British Government responded with changes that reflected Nightingale’s recommendations.  She continued to write, consult, and advocate for health care reform throughout her life.  She was conferred the merit of honor by King Edward.  In 1910, at age 90, she passed away at her home in London. More than 2,000 artifacts commemorating her life and career are housed in the Florence Nightingale Museum.

Excerpts for the above article from www.biography.com/people/florence-nightingale-9423539

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