- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2001

Nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, who now has her own place on the Episcopal church calendar, was honored in a special service at the Washington National Cathedral yesterday.
About 500 people, many of them doctors and nurses from around the country, filled the nave of the cathedral for the hourlong service, which was a tribute not just to Nightingale but to the health care community itself.
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher called Nightingale "a light of hope" and said the health care profession is in her debt.
"Florence Nightingale was a real leader in her day and age, and I think she offers great wisdom to help us deal with what we go through every day in health care," said Carol A. Picard, vice president of the Sigma Theta Tau International board of directors, the honor society of nursing.
Widely regarded as the founder of modern nursing, Nightingale, who died in 1910 at the age of 90, is perhaps best known for her service during the Crimean War, a war that was memorialized in the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Lord Alfred Tennyson.
From 1854 to 1856 Nightingale was in charge of nursing in military hospitals in Turkey, where she coped with crowded field hospitals, inadequate sanitation and shortages of bandages and medicines.
In 1860 she established the Nightingale School for Nurses in London, the first such in the world, and wrote the textbook "Notes on Nursing," which is still in print today.
A stained-glass window in the National Cathedral that depicts six scenes of Nightingale's life was installed in 1938, but getting church officials to bestow their official blessing on her has not been as easy. She has twice been denied a place on the calendar by the Episcopal House of Bishops because she was believed to have led a non-religious life.
Barbara Dossey, author of "Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer," has been working toward Nightingale's recognition by the church for seven years. She said the hardest part was correcting "the church history."
Ms. Dossey's writings emphasize the spiritual aspects of Nightingale's call to nursing as well as the holistic "model of healing" that she taught, which stressed the importance of cleanliness in hospitals and public places — something now taken for granted.
"This is a woman who had a deep spiritual life," Ms. Dossey said. "What Nightingale has done is allowed us to look at that incredible core of compassion that is central to healing."
Ms. Dossey said she was "thrilled" with the celebration, and she hopes the annual observance will promote a greater appreciation of Nightingale's place in history.
A videotape of yesterday's service — the first ever to be Webcast from the National Cathedral — is available at www.cathedral.org.

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