LANZHOU, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Ahead of International Nurses Day, which fell on Thursday, nearly 400 nurses in Qingyang, northwest China's Gansu Province, set up the city's first Nightingale volunteer service team, which aims to provide immediate care during disasters and emergencies.
The team was led by 47-year-old Tuo Yali, head nurse of the Department of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Center at Qingyang People's Hospital and one of three Chinese awardees of the Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international honor for nurses, in 2021.
During her 28-year career, Tuo worked in various departments of the hospital, including pediatrics, neurosurgery, urology, and neonatology before coming to the ICU center, where nurses face tougher tasks compared to the general wards.
Many of the head nurse's colleagues wonder why she chose to work in the most challenging department when she had other options, but Tuo always wants to be where she is needed most.
When the devastating earthquake jolted Wenchuan, Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008, people in Qingyang also felt its shock. Tuo, then working in the neonatology department, was one of the last people to run out of the hospital building, as she stayed to make sure no babies were left behind in the neonatal ICU.
In the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, Tuo was the first in her hospital to volunteer to go to Wuhan. "Her action prompted a lot of our staff to follow suit," said Wang Hongwei, Party secretary of Qingyang People's Hospital. "The number of applicants far exceeded the demand."
After arriving in Wuhan, Tuo applied to care for severe and critical patients, meaning she was faced with a high risk of infection. Despite that, she was the one who was "always in the ward," according to her colleagues from the same medical team.
Tuo regarded the patients as family. She remembered each patient's favorite food and spoon-fed the elderly every meal. When some patients felt frustrated and rejected her care, she sent them postcards with encouraging words: "Please be strong and trust us. We can do this together!"
During her 53 days in Wuhan, Tuo participated in the treatment of 278 COVID-19 patients.
For her outstanding contribution to healthcare, last year, Tuo became one of 83 Chinese nurses who have won the Florence Nightingale Medal. Soon after winning the medal, Tuo registered to donate her body to science.
"I want to devote my whole self to my beloved medical career, without reservation," she said.
On Thursday, Tuo and her colleagues held an oath-taking ceremony for the newly recruited nurses in her hospital.
"... With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care." With the recitation of the Florence Nightingale Pledge, another group of young nurses embarked on their career.
"Times are changing, but the spirit of Florence Nightingale remains the same," said Tuo. "From the moment we chose nursing as our career, we will always be caring, patient and enterprising in fulfilling the mission of healing the wounded and rescuing the dying." ■