Dressed in bright blue uniforms with white collars and cuffs and black Windsor ties, a little group of nurses meets every week-day morning at 33 Pearl St. to receive instructions for their morning's work. They are the professional staff of the Visiting Nurse Association, which is starting its 28th year of nursing at the bedsides of the families of Pittsfield.
At 9 o'clock they don their dark blue hats and coats, take their bags, and start on their routes, to work until 5:30 o'clock.
They visit humanity from the cradle to the grave — expectant mothers, newborn babies, children of all ages, men and women with all kinds of illnesses, and the very aged. One old lady has received 500 visits. She says the nurse is her best friend. Someone has said, "America has made two outstanding contributions to public health — the Panama Canal and the public health nurse."
The Visiting Nurse Association of Pittsfield has been deeply affected by the depression. With 50 visits more than in 1929, 4,500 more were free and 1,300 less were fully paid for. In 1929, 2,170 visits were paid for by patients, while in 1934, the number was only 873. In 1929, 6,002 visits were free, against 10,523 free visits in 1934.
In order to offset this tremendous number of visits for which no fee is received, the organization is eager to increase the number of visits that are made to patients who can afford to pay. There are now many families in the wealthier sections of the city who call a nurse when someone in the household is ill. In the case of hourly service, appointments are made at a slightly advanced rate for a definite period of time at a definite hour each day, or at regular intervals. A patient may not be ill enough for a full-time nurse, but may desire the luxury of a bath that only a nurse knows how to give with the greatest comfort to the patient.
However, the nurses are just as eager to attend those who cannot pay. Their service to the community depends upon their helping those who need them, whether rich or poor.