The Souvenir of Western Women/The Visiting Nurse Association

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The Visiting Nurse Association


THE Visiting Nurse Association of Portland was organized in 1902, and has gained steadily in strength and usefulness. While the City of Portland is free from the crowded slum and its poverty-stricken population, there is great need for the work of the visiting nurse. Sunlight, fresh air, and a bountiful water supply are agencies which help Portland maintain a low death rate, but, unfortunately, nature unaided cannot overcome the habits of ignorance and carelessness.

As stated in its constitution, the Association is organized to "benefit and assist those otherwise unable to secure assistance in time of illness, to promote cleanliness, and to teach the proper care of the sick." When first organized, there were funds enough to support the nurse for only two months, but as the purpose of the work became better known, money was forthcoming.

In all work of this character, the most difficult lesson to learn is that of helping without weakening the recipient. It is hard to know just when to withdraw the support and comfort so much needed, but which if continued would result in weakening the moral fiber of the family. It is a work which demands trained workers, because of its strong appeal to the sympathies. To meet successfully the demands of this complex situation, requires a steady, carefully trained judgment, and much depends on the personality of the nurse.

The work during the past year has doubled, and it became necessary during the winter to employ emergency nurses for the severe cases. It is with the chronic cases that one learns the value of organized charity. Nothing else is so demoralizing in its effect on the already strained resources of a family as prolonged sickness, and here is where the nurse appreciates the intelligent response of organized charity. Through it the rent is paid, the larder is stocked, clothing is provided, and work is found through the City Board of Charities, the benevolent societies, and the different church organizations. The hospitals have been most generous in placing their resources at the command of the Association, and the physicians have been its earnest supporters.

The following organizations have affiliated with the Association and maintain a delegate on its Advisory Board: The Portland Woman's Club, the King's Daughters of Trinity Church, the Y. W. C. A., the Calvary Presbyterian Church, St. Anne's Society, and the philanthropic branches of the Unitarian Church, which include the Woman's Alliance, the Wm. G. Eliot Fraternity, and the Christian Union. In addition, a little circle of women of the Unitarian Church, called the Unity Guild, supplies the patients with such delicacies as may be required. The King's Daughters have kept the maternity bag supplied, and St. Anne's Society has generously assisted in paying for extra nurses. The Jewish Ladies' Relief Society has been a staunch friend of the Association ever since it was organized.