Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This week, May 6-12, is National Nurses Week and a time for all of us to say "thank you" to the nurses who continue to rise to the challenge each day to keep the people we support, along with our friends and loved ones, safe and healthy. When we recognized nurses week last year, we were in the midst of a global public health crisis that was new to all of us and threatened both our well-being and our way of life. And while the COVID-19 crisis continues to this day, much of the progress we've made is due to the professionalism and know-how exhibited by our nurses, many of whom were right there on the front lines, working around the clock to do what needed to be done.
And while COVID-19 has certainly shone the spotlight on our nurses' ability to work under extreme pressure while showing compassion, less attention has been given to their role as health educators -- a role that is so vitally important right now. As we continue the footrace against COVID-19, it is our nurses who are the ones educating people about the vaccine and assuring them that it is safe and effective. Their success in this effort is what will help us overcome the vaccine hesitancy that stands in the way of our recovery.
OPWDD is proud to directly employ nearly 1,300 nurses statewide, which includes Licensed Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses, Infection Control Nurses, Community Mental Health Nurses, and Nurse Administrators, as well as temporary or part-time staff, in addition to the thousands of nurses employed by our nonprofit providers of services.
As we observe Nurses Week, I would like to extend a special thank you to all nurses who have not only made it their mission to serve the people with developmental disabilities we support but help promote vaccination. We continue to need you more than ever. On behalf of all of us at OPWDD, please know how grateful we are for what you do every day.
Theodore Kastner, MD, MS