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Paying Tribute to Our Former Nurses | WDIY Local News

St. Luke's University Health Network
Contributed Photo

St. Luke’s University Health Network is always looking to honor their physicians and nurses, and a little over a year ago, they found a way to honor those who have passed.

A statement highlighted the St. Luke’s Nurse Honor Guard, which has been honoring nurses after their passing since the beginning of February 2023. The ceremony that began at the network's Carbon Campus has now made its way to every network campus.

The group pays tribute to former nurses with the Nightingale Ceremony, and had performed the ritual for more than 120 nurses as of its anniversary on February 1.

In some ways, the ceremony resembles the tradition of burying former soldiers with military honors. The Nightingale Ceremony is often the last rite performed before a final blessing. St. Luke’s Nurse Honor Guard provides this tribute for free to all nurses, whether they worked for St. Luke’s or not.

The ceremony is named after Florence Nightingale, who saved countless wounded soldiers during the Crimean War with nursing work that was groundbreaking for the time period. Many consider her the pioneer of professional nursing.

During the ceremony, the Nightingale Pledge and a nursing sonnet are read before a rose is placed on the casket so the Honor Guard can show their “honor and appreciation for being our nursing colleague.”

Members of the group have expressed their belief that it gives families a “special sense of closure” to know that their loved ones’ devotion to caring for others wasn’t forgotten. “It brings their loved one’s career in nursing full circle,” says Denise Snyder, BSN, RN, and Lead Chair of the Nurse Honor Guard.

More than 130 nurses and former nurses currently make up the Honor Guard to relieve their colleagues of their nursing duty and allow them to rest in peace.

James is the News and Public Affairs Director for WDIY. He reports on stories in the Lehigh Valley and across the state which impact the region, along with managing WDIY's volunteers who help create the station's diverse line-up of public affairs programs.
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