2019 AAHN Conference Information

A Message from the President

Arlene W. Keeling, PhD, RN, FAAN

A Message from the President
April 2019

Courtesy Keeling Collection, ECBCNHI

According to today’s New York Times, there have been 465 cases of measles reported in the United States since the start of 2019, “with 78 new cases in the last week alone.”1 Responding to the surge of this highly infectious disease, Mayor Bill d Blasio said that the city “would issue violations and possibly fines” for those who refused to receive the measles vaccine.  The report, along with others from the Center for Disease Control, once again focuses the public’s attention on the issues of mandatory vaccinations, individual freedom, and how to protect the health of the public.

Protecting the public’s health with regard to measles is not a new issue. There have been numerous measles outbreaks in our nation’s history. In the past, people with the disease were quarantined in their home (note the sign above) or hospitalized in isolation for two weeks or more. Earlier today I was reading about the measles ward in the Contagious Disease Hospital on Ellis Island and how nurses and physicians, working together and implementing isolation techniques, “aseptic” procedures, darkened rooms, and cross ventilation of the wards, reduced the mortality of the disease by 30%.2 Their work was important: in the three year period ending July 1914, they treated over 2000 patients with measles on Ellis Island.3

Today, even though there is a vaccine to prevent measles, many people, unaware of how deadly measles can be, or misinformed about the side effects of the vaccine, refuse to have their children vaccinated, considering the disease to be a minor childhood illness.4   A few years ago, after a similar outbreak of measles in California, Drs. Lusk and Lewenson and I decided to write about the issue from an historical perspective, and published that manuscript in Nursing Outlook. Then and now, however, I wonder if we are reaching the right audience, the general public as well as a wide audience of practicing nurses.  Can knowing history make a difference?  Should we, as an organization, write a position statement about the need for vaccination? How can we make our history relevant to today?  I welcome your thoughts and reactions – and perhaps, volunteers to draft a position statement for our webpage.   

Arlene W. Keeling, PhD, RN, FAAN

Tyler Pager, “Measles Outbreak: New York Declares Health Emergency, Requires Vaccinations in Parts of Brooklyn,” New York Times, April 9, 2019
2 Lorrie Conway, Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America’s Immigrant Hospital (Smithsonian Books, 2007: 80
Chief Medical Officer, Ellis Island, “Table of Admissions for the Three-Year Period Ending July 1914,” (1915) RG 90, Records of the Public Health Service, NARA Bethesda. Box 157
4 Brigid Lusk, Arlene Keeling, and Sandra Lewenson, “Using Nursing History to Inform Decision-making: Infectious Diseases at the Turn of the 20th Century,” Nursing Outlook 64, 2 (2016): 170-178




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The Benefits of Membership

History provides current nurses with the same intellectual and political tools that determined nursing pioneers applied to shape nursing values and beliefs to the social context of their times. Nursing history is not an ornament to be displayed on anniversary days, nor does it consist of only happy stories to be recalled and retold on special occasions. Nursing history is a vivid testimony, meant to incite, instruct and inspire today's nurses as they bravely tread the winding path of a reinvented health care system.

To find out about these nursing pioneers and their efforts, join the American Association for the History of Nursing.

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We look forward to the 2019 Conference in Dallas, TX! 
September 19-21, 2019 at the Sheraton Downtown Dallas.  

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            BREAKING NEWS             

The American Association for the History of Nursing is proud to support The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Recognition Act in honor of the thousands of Cadet Nurses who studied and served under the U.S. Cadet Corps program in World War II.

About Friends of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps World War II

This group was formed to pass the 2018 bipartisan legislation, "U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act." It was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as HR7258 and in the U.S. Senate as Senate Bill 3729.  There is no financial or VA benefits. These women of the Greatest Generation only request to be honored as Veterans of WWII with an American flag and a gravesite plaque forever marking their proud service to our country during wartime in the United States Cadet Nurse Corps.  

Action Needed:  Be a  "Friend" of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps WWII.  
How:  Simply let your U.S. Senators and House Representatives know that passing this new bill is important to you by going to their website and clicking on the button.