Editor's notes

Nurses bring 'good’ to patients, their communities

When the Queen Mother (Elizabeth Bowles-Lyon) died in 2002, hundreds of thousands of mourners walked past her coffin to pay their respects and tributes poured in from all over the world. The woman who never expected to become royalty had served her country with strength and passion during World War II and afterward.

“How should we explain the numbers?” asked George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his eulogy. “Not just by the great length of life, famously lived to the full. It has to do with her giving of herself so readily and openly.

“There was about her, in George Eliot’s lovely phrase, 'the sweet presence of a good diffused.’ ”

I believe that phrase also applies to the essence of nursing at its finest. It certainly applies to this year’s ajcjobs Nursing Excellence Awards top 10 honorees and to so many other nurses, who each in their own way go above and beyond their job descriptions to bring “good” into their patients’ lives and to their communities.

I don’t think any of us knew quite what to expect when ajcjobs and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution hosted its first Celebrating Nurses event in 2006 . The stories about extraordinary nurses told by grateful patients, families and co-workers have surprised, touched and challenged us to see and be the good in our own daily work.

We had no idea how much the nominations and celebration would grow each year. In fact, this year we have outgrown our old venue and will host the event at Cobb Galleria Centre . This year’s luncheon, which will honor the top 10 honorees, the 350 nurses who were nominated and the profession as a whole, will be on May 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Over the years, we’ve seen nursing excellence expressed in so many different ways in many settings.  The top honorees have served in hospitals, clinics, schools, hospice agencies and in their communities. They have championed causes, founded charities and stepped up to meet unexpected emergencies. This year’s group is just as varied and impressive.

You’ll hear about an Atlanta nurse who took a dying cancer patient home to see his family — in Guatemala. Another nurse has been a pillar of support for a young woman with multiple rare disorders and hospitalizations for more than three years.

A pediatric nurse caring for a 14-year-old girl diagnosed with a massive brain tumor brought her clinical skills and a “palpable sense of human compassion” whenever she entered the patient’s room. A unit manager became the bedside nurse and advocate for one of her staff nurses diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

That’s just a sampling. You can read more about the top 10 honorees in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Celebrating Nurses special section on May 5.

We hope you’ll join us for this year’s event at Cobb Galleria Centre. You can order tickets ($400 for a table of 10, $45 for individuals) at www.ajcjobs.com/celebratingnurses. It will be a “good” celebration in every sense of the word.