The originator of modern nursing is back from the grave! At least for a few hours, that is. The staff at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois got a surprise for Nurses’ Week when historical impersonator Megan Wells arrived in full character as Florence Nightingale. Known as the “The Lady with the Lamp” for treating patients in all kinds of unsanitary, dim conditions, Nightingale passed away in 1910, but her spirit lives on in the healthcare community.
Wells arrived at the hospital in full Victorian garb and spent the day going from room to room sharing colloquialisms with the patients and nurses.
“It’s always nice to have these moments of enlightenment,” said recovery room nurse Sherrie Holthus. “It reinvigorates you to go forward.”
Wells stayed in character the entire time like a true thespian. She talked about what it was like to break barriers in the healthcare industry, which was still in its infancy in the late 1800s. Nightingale was more than just one of the first nurses. She was a statistician and social reformer looking to improve the health of society.
“It’s funny because I thought of her so much during COVID,” Holthus said. “It’s interesting to hear how nursing was actually looked down on and how far we’ve come to nursing being one of the most respected professions.”
Chief Nursing Officer Susan Morby said the onsite performance was designed to inspire the nurses on staff during National Nurses’ Week.
“Every person that becomes a nurse wants to make a difference,” Morby said. “That’s where we find our joy.”
The event also included a pizza party, an art show, and some animal therapy. The faux Nightingale even passed out awards and certificates to the other nurses on staff, including a group of direct care nurses and nursing leaders.
Nightingale is just one of Mary’s historical characters. She also does impersonations of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and even Princess Diana Spencer.
“Megan’s passion goes beyond words that simply engage, enrich and entertain an audience. Somewhere between a story or a myth and Megan’s unique delivery of it, through her gestures, her brief pauses, her expressive gaze and soulfulness, Megan creates a special and unique kind of suspended animation that is as hard to resist as it is to describe. Before long, one finds himself or herself inside Megan’s “story zone”, connecting to timeless human themes in surprisingly direct, personal and emotional ways,” said Yannis Papadakis, PhD, Founder, & Chair, Sympraxis Foundation.
“Only afterwards can someone fully appreciate the artistry, craftsmanship, artistic and creative genius it takes for one person to accomplish all this without special effects, no stage tricks, no dialog, not even background music. Megan takes audiences through themes that have persisted through humanity’s long and winding path, and with her incredible talent and stage delivery she creates an unforgettable experience for everyone attending.”