They are brave. They are strong. They are compassionate. They are Hospice Nurses.

National Nurses week begins May 6th and ends officially on May 12th, the birthday of legendary Florence Nightingale. Flo was a force to be reckoned with. She not only took a profession of hand holding and made it a science, she transformed the world of health care. Few people know that she was one of the very first to teach about the importance of handwashing for infection control. During this worldwide pandemic we are learning that lesson all too well.

One of her most often quoted remarks describes the nursing practiced at HopeWest: “Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion, as hard a preparation as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit? Nursing. It is one the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts.”

The art of nursing is practiced by more than 140 nurses at HopeWest – often invisible to everyone but their patients and their families, because they deliver their “art” in people’s homes, the bedside in a nursing home or assisted living residence or the hospice care center. They provide loving, complex, compassionate, and artful care to more than 600 patients across 8,000 square miles of rural Western Colorado every day – sometimes waiting for cattle roundups, braving deep snow with four-wheel drive or getting stuck in the mud on the way to a house, a camper. These brave “Florence Nightingales” can be found serving the homeless in the middle of the night accompanied by local police. They kneel by the side of their patients, celebrate the birthday of a patient turning 107 and 1/2, sing lovingly in the Threshold Choir in the final hours of life and reverently celebrate a life with a Tibetan bowl spiritual ceremony at the Care Center.

“Nursing truly is the finest of arts, and hospice nursing is one of the most complicated, wholistic practices of nursing that exists. It calls on nurses to be the extraordinarily capable clinicians practicing evidence-based practice and at the same time be expert in the science of human caring. It is so important to pause once a year and celebrate the people who timelessly minister to all – at home and all over the globe. In fact, the World Health Organization has declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse,” said HopeWest CEO, Christy Whitney Borchard, herself a master’s prepared nurse.

HopeWest continues its mission in the midst of the pandemic. Necessary safety and infection control protocols are all in place to protect staff and patients. Right now, more than ever, we want people to know they can call us for help at 970-241-2212. They don’t need to see their doctor first. We will be happy to visit them and will help them communicate with their physician should hospice care be needed in a timely way.