Gulf Coast VA concludes Nurses Week with “Blessing of the Hands”

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May 23, 2022
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Gulf Coast VA announced its 2022 organization-wide nursing awards during a virtual presentation May 12 in Biloxi, Mississippi. The event was part of the organization’s Nurses Week celebration.

Coming at the end of National Nurses Week, Gulf Coast VA nursing service leadership recognized Pauline White as the Nursing Assistant of the Year, Mary Harris as the Licensed Practical Nurse of the Year, Sheena Strong as the Registered Nurse (RN) of the Year and Amanda Anderson as the RN of the Year (Expanded Role) during the virtual presentation.

“Gulf Coast VA nurses continue to respond to challenges, responding to COVID-19 surges, embracing Veterans from state facilities when their staff was unable to continue care, and working short-staffed during a COVID-19 outbreak in our acute mental health facility,” said Dr. M. Christopher Saslo, a 28-year VA employee and 38-year nurse serving as the associate director of patient care services and organization nurse executive.

Over 65,000 vaccinations on deployments

“The men and women who are our nurses volunteered for Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System deployments to eight other facilities, managed COVID-19 screening and testing, and administered more than 65,000 COVID-19 vaccinations and more than 13,000 booster shots,” Saslo added.

Nurses throughout the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System were able to participate in a series of “Blessing of the Hands” ceremonies performed by Chaplain Service representatives throughout Nurses Week.

The “Blessing of the Hands” is a brief non-denominational act designed to recognize and unite health care workers. It consists of pouring warm water scented with essential oil over hands as a symbol of refreshing and renewing health care professionals’ spirits.

“These past two years have proven time and again that our nursing workforce is the most powerful, compassionate and determined profession ever,” Taylor said. “I’m amazed at the ability of nurses to be the strength for our Veterans, their loved ones and each other. Without your commitment and caring spirits, VHA would not be where it is today.”

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The Biloxi VA Medical Center, along with the Mobile, Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City VA Clinics, are all part of the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi. It provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 82,000 Veterans.

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