History of Nursing in Pacific Canada

Public Health and Pandemic Caring in Context Saewyc, Elizabeth Marie; Boschma, Geertje; Jones, Esyllt; Vandenberg, Helen; Grypma, Sonya, 1965-; Phinney, Alison; Sakamoto, Mariko


Pandemic Caring: public health nursing and community in the history of infectious disease The 1918-19 influenza pandemic demonstrated the power of nursing in a disease crisis. At the time, and later in the eyes of historians, nursing interventions were valued because they alleviated suffering and meant an increased chance of survival when there were few medical treatment options. Much of this nursing care was delivered outside formal hospital settings, in locales that blurred the boundaries between institution, community, and home. In local neighbourhoods, public health nursing and private nursing organizations had for decades served those with virtually no access to health care, in places where infectious disease was a constant risk and a leading cause of mortality and disability. This form of nursing – in homes, at mission houses, for private agencies such as the VON – played a role historically that we barely recognize today, when the face of pandemic nursing is critical care. Historical resonances nonetheless abound. Public health leaders are now calling for a return to community and neighbourhood-level engagement and healthcare investment, partly in response to pandemic inequality and vaccine access. This paper will draw from historical analyses of community-level nursing in the past and suggest ways in which nursing might engage with those successes and failures. With Dr. Esyllt Jones, University of Manitoba, who delivered the keynote address.

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