Nearly everyone’s life has been impacted by nurses. Monday begins National Nurses Week, a time to say thank you.

As part of today’s newspaper and at TheTandD.com, The Times and Democrat and sponsors are honoring 10 nurses in a special section titled, “Nurses: The Heart of Health Care.”

The 10 honorees were selected by judges from nominations submitted by readers. In their stories, you’ll find common denominators:

• Dedication to the nursing mission.

• Caring a lot about other people.

• Belief that nursing is more than a job.

• Desire to help others with more than medications.

In the words of the nursing honorees:

• “It takes a kind and compassionate heart to enter in the health care field. As many enter for money, I still feel that to become a great nurse, a kind heart and healing touch are needed.” -- Evelyn “Beth” Berry

• “Without nurses, hospitals and doctors’ offices would be chaotic. Nurses have a great responsibility to improve the health of the population and to contribute to the overall well-being of America." – Dawn Burgess

• “I learn a lot from my patients about life and living. If I can say or do something to make this worst time in some lives a little better, it is all worth it.” – Emma Jean Buck

• “We give meds and shots to our patients, but we do so much more. We sit with our confused, impulsive patients at night and feed them a snack while we listen to their childhood stories. We hold their hand when they get bad news and can't be with the ones they love.” – Priya Patel

• “Nursing is my life. I am a nurse 24 hours a day! Whether it is at the bedside, at the office, or at home, I will always be a nurse.” – Renae Hewitt

• "No matter where you go, everyone has a question for you. Nurses serve their families, their communities and every place they go. We are present at birth and at death." – Sonya Ehrhardt

• "Nursing is the heartbeat of health care. Nursing is a work of heart. Many of your patients and their families become like family." – Whitney Bazzle

• "My triumphs are the patients who come in mad, sad, unhappy or just plain old grumpy. Those patients are my triumphs because I can bet you that when I walk out of that patient's room, they are laughing or smiling and have forgotten what they may have been unhappy about to begin with.” – Lucy Strock Carter

• “I plan to stay in my current position until I retire. I love my job and all of my patients. I look forward to seeing them and seeing how they are doing. My mom once told me that if your job no longer brings you joy, you need to find something else to do. I still find joy in my job and cherish the nursing relationships that I have made.” – Laura Fogle

• "I want to love and teach love. I think that if I do anything, I hope that I'm an example of not despair, doubt and fear, but life and love and a new beginning." – Tammy Schriver

Importantly, today’s tribute is also about recognizing three key players in the nursing equation. Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and Claflin University are filling an essential need in educating tomorrow’s nurses at a time when the demand has never been greater.

And at The Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties, there are 400 nurses across the hospital and its seven primary care practices. They fill essential roles.

Amid great debate in this country about health care and its future, there remains no doubt that Americans have access to the best care in the world. It would not be so without nurses. Say thank you this week.

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