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FOR RELEASE: April 29, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

National Nurses Week to be Celebrated May 6-12

“Nurses: Lifting Spirits, Touching Lives” is the theme for this year’s National Nurses Week, May 6 - 12. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) wishes to recognize the ways in which registered nurses strive to provide safe and quality patient care. A renewed emphasis on primary care, preventive care, home health care, and a growing aging population are just some of the reasons why the demand for nursing services continues to grow. According to state health officials, there are nearly 2.7 million registered nurses nationally, of which about 620 are registered nurses who provide public health services in 77 Oklahoma counties.

“County health departments across the state would like to encourage local communities to join us in honoring our nurses for their accomplishments and efforts to improve our health care system. We appreciate their professionalism, kindness and caring as they serve and often put themselves at risk to help others get well. They provide valuable medical services and comfort, and help fight against emerging health threats,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch.

Public health nurses have been important assets in the network of health care delivery systems since the placement of the first public health nurse in 1919. Some of the services they provide include child and adult immunizations, preventive health screenings, monitoring and control of communicable diseases and chronic health concerns, services that assure healthier mothers and babies, child abuse prevention, and school health education.

“Public health nurses are volunteering on the front lines in health teams receiving and providing smallpox vaccinations to help protect our state’s citizens should a bioterrorism attack occur,” Beitsch said. “We can’t afford to lose any public health nurses to proposed budget cuts. It could jeopardize the health of our citizens. Public health nurses and nurses serving in private industry are essential to the health and future well-being of our state,” he said.

“I would like to ask the community to join me in thanking not only our public health nurses, but all Oklahoma nurses who ‘Lift Spirits and Touch Lives’ on a daily basis,” said OSDH Chief of Nursing Service Diana Pistole.

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