Nurses at the Lifeline Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Hospitals in Abu Dhabi celebrated International Nurses Day on Thursday. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Employing efficient nurses is probably one of the most challenging things to do across hospitals worldwide, a senior official at the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) said on the occasion of International Nurses Day yesterday.

Hospitals in Abu Dhabi celebrated International Nurses Day (IND), which marks the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, who is regarded as the founder of nursing.

"Nurses are the backbone of any health care organisation. Hospitals exist because of nurses. It is a profession of service and caring — we are grateful for their service," Carl Stanifer, CEO of SEHA told Gulf News.

SEHA has embarked upon a clear plan, recruiting 6,328 full-time nurses as of December 31, 2010, which is the largest single contingent of employees in the SEHA Health System, accounting for 38 per cent of their total workforce. The company manages 12 hospitals, 62 clinics and two blood banks in Abu Dhabi.

"These nurses provided support and care through nearly five million patient encounters. About 4.1 million outpatient visits were logged, and more than 104,000 inpatients and [the nurses] spent 653,000 patient days tending to their needs. They helped deliver and care for 20,330 newborns and assisted on more than 35,600 surgeries," said Stanifer.

"Recruiting is an ongoing challenge and probably will be for the foreseeable future. Turnover is inevitable and the worldwide shortage of nurses continues to be a challenge for every health care organisation. We're working hard to recruit more Emiratis into health care roles, especially the areas of nursing and midwifery. We believe these are noble careers and are seeing more young people coming to us for opportunities to serve their country in rewarding roles in the health care arena. We hope this trend continues and grows," he added.

Lynda Mikalauskas, chief clinical officer at Corniche Hospital which has 450 nurses said: "It's wonderful to have the opportunity to acknowledge, celebrate, and thank our nurses for their dedication to providing exceptional health care in a family-centred and compassionate manner to our women and newborns. Nursing has an important role in the entire health wellness continuum and across a person's life span. There is a larger need for more Bachelors- and Masters- prepared nurses in the UAE as there is internationally."

Under their 2011 IND theme ‘Increasing access and equity', nurses from the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) organised presentations on nurses' role in patient care.

Linda Haskins, deputy chief nursing officer at SKMC, said: "SKMC employs approximately 1,583 licensed professional nurses in all facilities. It is time to reflect on the dedication, care, and compassion that each nurse demonstrates each day. We want to thank all of our nurses for doing such a great job every day."

One of the key objectives of the International Nurses Day celebrations this year is to acknowledge the importance of nursing and midwifery as a profession, raise awareness of its recognition internationally as a key, valued profession and to highlight and promote the profession within the UAE.