Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Flo?

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


May 01, 2014

Figure 8. A 19th-century servants' call bell system. Photographer: Jack E. Boucher, 1972. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Florence was extremely concerned that hospitals be designed to minimize unnecessary running around or up and down stairs; otherwise, she believed that "the nurse is converted into a pair of legs."[4] So, in addition to conveniently located rooms for the nurses' use in preparing medicines, dressings, poultices, or food, Flo advocated that bells should be installed so that "the bells of the patients should all ring in the passage outside the nurse's own door, on that story, and should have a valve, which flies open when its bell rings and remains open, in order that the nurse may see who has rung."[4] This was the forerunner of the modern nurse-call system (similar to a servant call-bell system, seen in Figure 8). Flo also insisted on having hot water piped to each floor so that nurses would not have to carry water, and asked for a "windlass," a rope-and-pulley apparatus (a dumbwaiter) used to haul patients' meals from the kitchen. So if you are one of those nurses who believe that there is a special place in hell for the inventor of the call bell, now you know.


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