LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Beaming with pride, Katherine Otero thumbs through old newspaper clippings of her late mother. In columns from the 1980s, Carol Lewis, who worked as a charge nurse at Lovelace Medical Center in New Mexico, was credited with helping Nurses Day become a national day of recognition.
"My mom taught me a lot about continuing to grow," Otero said. "And I really loved hospice work."
Otero is a nurse at Gallus Detox in Las Vegas. On May 6th, she is celebrating her 29-year anniversary serving as a nurse, which is the day that officially kicks off National Nurses Week, a week of appreciating the frontline heroes who work a thankless job that deserves all the praise.
"It’s a privilege and honor being with people as they’re born," Otero said. "And then again as they’re dying and all the way through the life continuum. That’s a very wonderful thing."
Otero said her mother inspired her to become a nurse, and she believes she inspired her mom in a way.
"On Secretary's Day in the 80s, they handed out carnations to all the clerical staff," Otero recollected, as she was one of the secretaries being honored. "The nurses were like, ‘Hey, what about us?’”
This prompted Lewis to host a banquet for nurses at Lovelace Medical Center, pronouncing May 6 as an unofficial Nurses Day, but then she took it to the state for the Governor to officially recognize it as a day of appreciation, and Lewis didn’t stop there.
"It went to Congress and she got to meet with Vice President Bush Sr. at the White House," Otero said.
In 1982, May 6th would be designated as the day of recognition for nurses nationwide. In the following years, it evolved into a week-long celebration.
National Nurses Week ends on May 12th, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is considered the first professional nurse.
Gallus Medical Detox Center is located at 1550 W Craig Rd Suite 310 in North Las Vegas. For more information on its services, call 888-306-3122.