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NMRTC Beaufort > Command Info > Public Affairs > Naval Hospital Beaufort Celebrates Nurse Corps' 104th Birthday and Nurses Week

May 10, 2012

Naval Hospital Beaufort Celebrates Nurse Corps’ 104th Birthday and Nurses Week

BEAUFORT, S.C. – Staff at Naval Hospital Beaufort celebrated the Navy Nurse Corps’ 104th birthday and Nurses Week by honoring the many contributions of both Navy nurses and the civilian nurses who work side by side with them with a presentation held on the hospital’s quarterdeck May 9.

“Navy Medicine is fortunate to have such a high caliber of dedicated and professional nurses, both active duty and civilian, who ensure that our Sailors and Marines, active and retired, as well as their families receive the highest quality health care available,” said Captain Joan Queen, commanding officer at Naval Hospital Beaufort.

The Naval Hospital Beaufort Nurses Association planned several events to mark Nurses Week and the Nurse Corps birthday including Wednesday’s presentation that featured guest speakers and cupcakes.  The presentation honored the role of nurses throughout history including those who have had a personal impact on Naval Hospital Beaufort.

Special guests included nine members of the Gullah Churches Nurses Association, a group of Lowcountry nurses, most of whom either currently work or previously worked at Naval Hospital Beaufort.  One of the group’s founding members is Zezalee Smalls, the first African American nurse hired at the hospital in 1962.  Smalls worked in the hospital’s labor and delivery department, which was closed in 1998, for 33 years before retiring.  When the group was founded in the late 1980’s, they held their meetings in one of Naval Hospital Beaufort’s conference rooms.

“This week is about recognizing the vital role nurses play in the health and well being of our patients,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Watson, nurse educator in the hospital’s education and training department and guest speaker, “Many times, nurses go unrecognized, but we are at bedsides 24/7, getting to know the patient as a person, which gives us the ability to recognize and act quickly when there’s any alternation in a patient’s condition.  Navy nurses in particular have the important role of nurturing and growing our corpsmen when they’re fresh out of training so they are prepared to care for the Marine on the front line.  Once that Marine is brought back safely from the front lines, kept alive by their well trained and fearless “doc,” it’s the Navy nurse and the Navy medical team who take over their care.”

The hospital currently has 127 nurses on staff, which includes licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners.  These nurses provide care to the hospital’s beneficiaries in areas that include Medical Home Port (primary care), the emergency department, occupational health, the ambulatory procedure unit, the operating room, and the branch health clinics at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

“Nursing is a profession that embraces dedicated people with varied interests, strengths and passions because of the many opportunities the profession offers,” said Captain Vicki Edgar, quality management department head.  “We have many roles, from staff nurse to educator to researcher and administrators, and serve all of them with passion for the profession and a strong commitment to patient safety.”

Open since 1949, Naval Hospital Beaufort provides general medical, surgical, and emergency services to all active duty personnel, as well as retired military and family members residing in the Beaufort area, a total population of approximately 45,000 beneficiaries.