Florence Nightingale: The Lady With The Lamp

Florence Nightingale: The Lady With The Lamp

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Language: English

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(dramatic orchestral music) (soft orchestral music) - Near Piccadilly Circus on Waterloo Place, in the heart of London, stands the Crimean War Memorial. It was built in 1861 and features Honour with outstretched arms, standing above the statues of three guardsmen, cast in Bronze from captured Russian cannons. Carved in the stonework on the side are the names of three famous Crimean battles: Alma, Inkerman, and Sevastopol. The Crimean War marked a turning point in history. It introduced major changes in society and war operations. The war began over a seemingly minor and insignificant religious dispute. For years, Orthodox Christians, supported by Russia, and Roman Catholics, backed by France, had squabbled over access to the holy sites
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in Jerusalem and the Middle East, under the control of the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Both France and Russia wanted to take charge of these sacred sites and be the defender of the Ottoman Christians. The losses on all side were immense. At least three-quarters of a million soldiers died, most through illness and disease away from the battlefield. The French lost around 100,000 men, the British about 20,000, and the Russians well over half a million. From the muddled, chaotic catastrophe of the Crimean War, one person emerged famous and loved; not a general, not a soldier, but a woman. Her statue stands as part of the Crimean War Memorial alongside the three guardsmen. Her name: Florence Nightingale. This is her story. It'll encourage you and inspire you.
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And maybe Florence Nightingale brings a message for us today. (dramatic orchestral music) (soft music) St. Thomas' is one of the oldest hospitals in London, England. It's situated along the Thames in Southwark, near London Bridge. St. Thomas' Hospital has been providing relief to the sick and needy for over 900 years. Surgery was an extremely painful undertaking back then, because there was no anaesthesia. And it was risky, because a barber performed it. And to make matters worse, there were no antiseptics. The old operating theatre of St. Thomas' Hospital provides a chilling reminder of the realities of surgery before anaesthesia and antiseptics. It was built in 1822, in the attic of 300-year-old St. Thomas' Church. It's the oldest surviving operating theatre in Europe.
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And the equipment, well what's to say the least, basic and scary, including saws and hammers, so much so that the patients were usually blindfolded before entering the room, so they couldn't see the terrifying surgical equipment. But one of the biggest problems associated with surgery back then and hospitals in general was the lack of professional and properly-trained nurses. One of the main differences between hospitals then and now are nurses. And nowhere is this more clearly seen than when you compare this old operating theatre and hospital with the new St. Thomas' Hospital. Where would we be without nurses? Most of us arrived on planet Earth with their help. A nurse's face was one of the first we saw. And we've always retained a sense of respect and admiration for nurses. In fact, in survey after survey, nursing comes up as the most trusted
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healthcare profession of all. If you or a loved one has spent time in a hospital, you'll certainly understand why. Nurses are teachers, advocates, caregivers, supporters, and innovators. They are usually the ones who are there for our first breath and our last breath. Their presence and care not only heals and comforts but also genuinely transforms lives. Nurses give up time that the rest of us take for granted, weekends, nights, and family time, to work through gruelling shift-based rosters, selflessly committed to their patients. And they do it because they really do care. As the saying goes: care for one person, that's love; care for 100 people, that's nursing. Nurses make a difference. Too often, we take nurses for granted, and we forget that, not too long ago,
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nursing as we know it didn't exist at all in hospitals and operating theatres like this. Those were dark days indeed. And nowhere was this more starkly evident than during the Crimean War. Let me take you there. In the 19th century, the great nations of Europe lined up against Russia. It was really just another power grab, ostensibly over religion. Who should control the sacred sites in Jerusalem and the Middle East? In the Autumn of 1854, the Allies, the English, French, and Turks, invaded the Crimean Peninsula. After securing a victory at the Battle of Alma, they went on to attack the vital Russian naval hub at Sevastopol. Soldiers on both sides were forced to battle through a brutal Russian winter, under constant artillery bombardment. Many soldiers fell victim to what was then called trench madness, and later shell shock.
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It would eventually take 11 months before a French assault forced the Russians to evacuate Sevastopol. A year later, after more sporadic fighting, the Russians finally admitted defeat. The Crimean War was hugely significant for a number of important reasons. The human cost of the war was immense. 20,000 British, 100,000 French, and well over half a million Russians died. The startling thing is that many of them didn't die in battle; most of them actually died of disease and neglect. (upbeat string music) Florence Nightingale was born into a rich, upper-class British family in 1820. She was named Florence after the city of her birth in Italy. And here's a piece of trivia: the name Florence had never been a woman's name before. But it became popular as a result of her impact on the world.
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What Florence went on to achieve in her life is all the more impressive when you consider how socially restrained women were in Victorian England. Women of Nightingale's high social class didn't attend university or have professional careers. Instead, their purpose in life was to marry and bear children. But Florence's father believed women should be educated, and he personally taught her Italian, Latin, Greek, philosophy, history, and most unusual of all for women of the time, writing and mathematics. Florence grew to be a tall and pretty girl. Her life included many parties, much travel on the continent. At the age of 16, two young men fell head over heels in love with her and proposed marriage. She liked them both, but she wasn't ready to marry. The following year, a strange thing happened to her. She didn't consider herself to be particularly religious,
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but on February the 7th, 1837, at the age of 17, she felt that God spoke to her and called her to some future service. She wondered about what this might be. And from that moment, her life was changed for good. Young Florence stopped the constant socialising and the frivolous parties and started to look for opportunities to serve others. She wanted to prepare herself for whatever God was calling her to do. Florence started spending all her spare time visiting the poor in their cottages on her family estate and bringing food and medicine to the people who lived there. Florence was beginning to wonder whether helping the sick was what God wanted her to do. One day a doctor and his wife visited the family home, and Florence asked the doctor whether he thought it unsuitable and unbecoming
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for a young English woman to devote herself to works of charity in hospitals and elsewhere, like the nuns. The doctor answered that it would indeed be considered highly unsuitable, but he still told her that she should follow her inspiration, and so Florence did just that. She decided to go and get some hands-on experience and training at a hospital run by a family friend. Florence's parents were shocked and horrified. This was entirely inappropriate for an upper-class woman. Hospitals in England back then were places of degradation and filth. In Victorian England, the stench in hospitals was so bad that it was normal for nurses to arrive drunk for work so they could get through the day. But Florence was determined. Her stubbornness, in addition to her intellect, was one of her key attributes. She got up before dawn every morning
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to do her own study by the light of an oil lamp. And then she decided to go to Germany to get practical experience. When Florence returned from Germany, her parents tried to get her to settle down decently. But they were confused and annoyed when Florence turned down yet another offer of marriage. Florence refused to consider a normal life. Instead, she travelled to Paris to serve in a hospital run by nuns. In due course back in England, the Institution for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances needed a superintendent, and Florence was ideal for the job, so she returned to England. It was then in 1853 that the Crimean War erupted. The decision to go to war was met with enthusiastic support from the British public. Queen Victoria wrote to the King of Belgium, "The war is popular beyond belief."
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At the time, English military hospitals were a disgrace. Any wounded men sent there had almost no chance of recovering. To end up in a military hospital was virtually a death sentence. The English and French have always been great rivals. And when reports came back from the war that the French took better care of their wounded, the English government was stung into action. Sidney Herbert, the Secretary of War, created a new official position of Superintendent of Nursing for the military hospitals in Turkey and then set about trying to search through all of England to find the best-qualified person to fill the position. And the best person he could find was a young woman, Florence Nightingale. She was to go to the Crimea with the nurses of her choice and with total authority over nursing in the hospitals. Before this, no woman had ever entered a military hospital.
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But even then, Miss Nightingale's reputation was already such that her appointment was applauded by the public. Florence carefully selected the women to travel with her to Turkey, 40 in all. What they found when they arrived in Turkey was a total disaster. It was no wonder that so few of the wounded English soldiers ever made it back home. They found mouldy bread, scarce water, filth and overcrowding everywhere, no arrangements for hygiene, no bedsheets, no operating tables, and no medical supplies. The nurses themselves were allocated five rat-infested bedrooms and a single kitchen. Miss Nightingale quickly started requisitioning supplies, which was an unheard of power for a woman to have in terms of the military. The first thing she asked for were towels and soap. Then she started insisting
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that the clothes be washed and the floors scrubbed. She wasted no time in whipping the hospitals into shape. But right away, she started running into trouble. Some of the officers complained about her power. Some of the doctors also grumbled. How could this woman just arrive, pretend to know what needed to be done, and have more authority than they had? But there was one group of people who fully approved of her and supported what Miss Nightingale was doing. These were her patients, the wounded soldiers. They all but adored her, because she did for them what no one else had done. They called her "the lady with the lamp", because at the end of each day when it got dark and other staff had retired for the night, Florence Nightingale would take her lamp and visit the wounded in the wards. She made sure they were comfortable
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and their injuries were tended to. The grateful soldiers spoke of kissing her very shadow as she passed. A report describing how she cared for the wounded was sent back to England. This is what it said. - [Male Voiceover] When silence and darkness have settled upon those miles of prostate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making the solitary rounds. - One of the very lamps she used is on display at the Florence Nightingale Museum near the Houses of Parliament in London. The Turkish-style lamp is a graphic reminder of her commitment and dedication to care for the sick and dying under difficult and trying circumstances. Despite the many obstacles, Florence Nightingale kept on working. It seemed that nothing could stand in her way when it came to caring for the wounded and the sick. The changes that Florence introduced reduced the death rate
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in the military hospitals from 42% to 2%. And even from the war zone, she started suggesting changes to legislation that would help the men. One example was the law said that hospitalised men had their pay cut since they weren't on the front lines anymore. Often these men ended up handicapped for life. Miss Nightingale wrote to Queen Victoria opposing these pay cuts, and the men's pay was restored. There are many other examples of legislation that she suggested or wrote which was introduced to Parliament and subsequently passed. (delicate music) It had been a miserable war. Although the war had started with a huge wage of popular support, by the end of it, the English public were horrified and tired of it. But amid the devastation, Florence Nightingale emerged as a hero.
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As one biographer said, she had the country at her feet. Upon her return to England, Miss Nightingale was received by Queen Victoria, who gave her an inscribed diamond broach as a token of her appreciation. Florence had returned to England looking pale and gaunt, suffering from several sicknesses. But she had found her cause, something that she could devote her energy to and make a difference in the world. She had finally found what God had called her to do. Health and hygiene, and wounded soldiers in general, were neglected in the British army. In other words, if you joined the army, you were overwhelmingly more likely to die from diseases due to poor hygiene and the maladministration of the hospitals than anything else. More soldiers were dying from hospital infections than from battlefield injuries. Florence managed to convince Queen Victoria
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that urgent reforms were needed. In fact, they became friends. The Queen would summon her to visit the palace, and amazingly, even made informal visits to Florence's home herself. In gratitude to Miss Nightingale for her work in Crimea, 70 prominent people of England established the Nightingale Fund, and she became its first administrator. One of the first things the fund did was to establish, in 1860, a school for nurses at St. Thomas' Hospital, which Miss Nightingale also supervised. The school still exists today. It's called The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, and it's part of King's College London. Although Florence remained ill, her health eventually improved somewhat. Still, she didn't stop working. During the night, she wrote books about how to run hospitals, care for the sick, and on nursing.
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And these books were translated into many languages around the world. Soon, however, another war broke out, the Franco-Prussian War. During the war, Florence worked with the National Society for the Aid to the Sick and Wounded, which was later called the Red Cross. After the war had ended, John Henri Dunant said this: - [Male Voiceover] Though I'm known as the founder of the Red Cross, it is to an Englishwoman that all the honour is due. What inspired me was the work of Florence Nightingale. - After this, Florence reduced her public work for a time to nurse first her dying father, then her dying mother, and then her dying sister. Florence herself lived on into old age, continuing to work and contribute. And everywhere she went, she was treated with respect and awe. She continued to write until her sight failed and her memory dulled.
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On August the 13th, 1910, she fell asleep around noon and did not awaken. In 1907, King Edward VII bestowed on her the Order of Merit, the first time ever that it had been given to a woman. Florence Nightingale also received many other awards and honours. One of the amazing things about her life is that she contributed so much and continued to work for the sick and poor even though she herself spent long periods of time bedridden with illness. What was it that lay at the heart of Florence Nightingale's passion for healing the sick, helping the poor, and alleviating suffering wherever she found it? What was the motivating factor behind the way she transformed the care of sick in this world and why she founded the modern profession of nursing? Well, Florence Nightingale was intensely, personally devoted to Jesus Christ and his ideals of unconditional love and compassion.
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She believed that the work of her life was her response to the call of God on her life. Throughout her life, Florence always looked for a deeper and deeper experience with God, not through outward rituals and religious ceremonies, but through the transformation of her heart. Florence Nightingale treasured her Bible. And this is another possession she treasured: her prayerbook. It's come all the way back to England via New Zealand and Australia, where it was taken by a close relative over 100 years ago. It carries her name and signature, and is a reminder of the central role the Bible and prayer played in her life. In everything, Florence Nightingale tried to follow Jesus. When she became a nurse at 30 years of age, she noted that this was the age when Jesus had begun his ministry. She once told an assembly of nurses,
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"Christ is the author of our profession." It's fashionable today to forget how it is that we have come to enjoy all the advantages and blessings of our modern society and culture. It's easy to take nursing and nurses for granted. We forget that we enjoy the advantages we have because of the Christian roots of our society. It's tragic when we forget the importance of God and his word, the Bible, in our lives. It was because Florence Nightingale made the Bible the very centre of her life that she was able to excel and become the person she became and change our world forever. In those long, dreary nights during the war in Crimea, as Florence Nightingale did her rounds in the hospitals, she brought not just physical comfort but spiritual comfort as well. Do you need that kind of spiritual comfort in your life? I'm talking about the comfort that only God can give.
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If you would like to experience the inner peace and happiness that God offers, please ask for it right now as we pray. Dear heavenly father, we all hunger for more in this life, and we're encouraged and inspired as we look at the lives of your heroes, like Florence Nightingale. We admit that the weakness in our lives is because we have relied too much on ourselves instead of relying on you. We thank you because you have a plan for us and that it's a good plan. Please come into our lives and lead us back to your word, the Bible. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. Florence Nightingale's guidebook for her life was the Bible. If you've enjoyed our programme today, I'm inviting you to receive the free gift we have for all our viewers today. It's not one but two Bible study guides to help you understand the Bible
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and God's plan for your life. In fact, the titles of our gifts for you today are Does My Life Really Matter to God? And God's Plan for My Life. Through these free Bible study guides, you'll be able to access the same insights for living that Florence Nightingale treasured. Why not let the Bible guide your journey through life? So don't miss this wonderful opportunity to receive the free gift we have for you today. It's totally free and without any obligation. Here's the information you need. - [Announcer] Phone or text us at 0436 333 555 in Australia or 020 422 2042 in New Zealand. Or visit our website, TiJ.tv to request today's free offer, and we'll send it to you totally free of charge and with no obligation. Write to us at GPO Box 274
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Sydney, New South Wales 2001, Australia or PO Box 76673, Manukau, Auckland 2241, New Zealand. Don't delay; call or text us now. If you've enjoyed today's journey through the life and times of Florence Nightingale and our reflections on how she transformed our world through her connection with God, then be sure to join us again next week, when we will share another of life's journeys together. Until then, remember the ultimate destination of life's journey: "Now I saw a new heaven and a new Earth, "and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. "There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. "There shall be no more pain, "for the former things have passed away." (uplifting orchestral music)

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