Few people realise the enormous debt which the whole world owes to Florence Nightingale. This courageous Reformer transformed hospitals and pioneered the modern nursing profession. No other person in history has done more to alleviate suffering and establish so high a standing of health care for the sick.
Before Florence Nightingale the condition of hospitals and the nursing profession was in a degraded state. Hospitals were dirty and over crowded. Antiseptics were unknown. Scarcely any facilities for the training of nurses existed, and their pay was less than that for a common labourer in the field. Nurses were drawn from the “undesirable sections” of society and were commonly regarded as “vulgar”, “uneducated”, “unclean” and notorious for their drunkenness and immorality.
Florence Nightingale’s writings on hospital planning and organisation had a profound impact on health care worldwide. Her far sighted reforms saved innumerable lives and established nursing as a respectable profession.
After a most productive life, at age 90, Florence Nightingale died on 13 August 1910 . Over 1,000 nurses and many veterans of the Crimean War attended her funeral service at St. Paul ’s in London . Lord Stanley delivered this eulogy: “I know of no person besides Miss Nightingale who, within the past 100 years…has voluntarily encountered dangers so imminent, and undertaken offices so repulsive, working for a large and worthy object, in a pure spirit of duty towards God and compassion for man.”