A little more than a year ago, none of us could have imagined anything like COVID-19. We went from gathering with family and friends anytime in our homes or at restaurants and working in traditional environments surrounded by co-workers to a complete shutdown overnight.

Who did Kentuckians turn to in this unprecedented healthcare crisis? Who did they count on as the pandemic raged out of control? Who did residents of the Commonwealth call upon for answers?

The answer is simple, we all looked to Kentucky nurses, the largest segment of healthcare workers and the most trusted professionals for the 19th consecutive year (Gallup Poll). We knew we could count on these experts who helped to bring our babies into the world, cared for us in the emergency room and provided compassion and support as the end of life drew near for someone we loved. These are also the people who came together from all facets of nursing from the bedside to academia to business and industry to develop creative solutions and immediate action steps that have saved lives and put Kentucky on the map as a noted leader in COVID-19 prevention and response.

During Nurses Month, the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA) extends a heartfelt thank you to more than 560 nurses who have volunteered their time with KNA to test and vaccinate residents across the state. Nurses who work on the frontlines have donated time on weekends, those working in administration and other non-traditional roles have stepped up and many nurses have come out of retirement to assist. We also thank nursing students who have volunteered their time while continuing to learn.

Nurses are strong in their commitment to helping others. During this time of extraordinary stress, the KNA has partnered with the International Psychiatric Nurses Association to form “Kentucky Nurses Helping Nurses,” (KNHN), a volunteer network of nurses, working and retired, who have a passion for and expertise in mental health nursing who want to support nurses on the frontlines of COVID-19. Nurses who need help may call

1-877-358-0420, email admin@kentucky-nurses.org or visit the KNA website at kentucky-nurses.org. All inquiries are confidential.

As we look toward this special month of recognition for nurses, we invite you to follow us on social media to watch our “Thank You Nurses” video series. We are proud to report that so many have responded to our call for “thank you” messages that you’ll see several videos in the coming days, weeks and months in 2021, “The Year of the Nurse.” We also are offering myriad of free and low-cost educational programs for nurses and our community members about topics such as healthcare and social justice, nurse suicide prevention, mindfulness practices and much more.

While we could tell you more about our appreciation for all Kentucky nurses, we’ll close with words of encouragement and action steps for all.

Please get your COVID-19 vaccine and get tested. We are seeing light and hope where we recently only saw darkness and pain - Kentucky nurses are paving the way to make it happen.

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