From The President

Greetings to all from the Birmingham Black Nurses Association, Inc. (BBNA). These are exciting times for BBNA as we celebrate twenty-five years of existence. It is indeed an honor and a privilege to serve as president of BBNA during this tremendous milestone in its history.

Enormous growth and accomplishments have been achieved over the last twenty-five years as we reflect on BBNA’s past, present and future. BBNA was established in 1989 through the efforts of a nursing director Deborah C. Walker and an evening shift house supervisor Geneva Irby, who were not satisfied with the status quo of leadership and professional opportunities for African Americans nurses in their hospital. So they set on a course to make a difference and fill the void of career opportunities for African American nurses in the city of Birmingham and surrounding areas. After sharing information about a national organization of all African American nurses with thirteen other interested nurses, BBNA in 1990 received its official charter as an affiliate chapter of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA).

 BBNA’s beginnings were humble yet rich in having the privilege of being guided and mentored by NBNA’s founding president Dr. Lauranne Sams. The initial focus of BBNA was community service, membership development, student support, collaboration with supporting agencies and education. Over the next two decades, BBNA exploded with innovative programs for community residents and other healthcare professionals as well. These events included Sweet Sundays (blood sugar screenings), AIDS and minorities health fairs, eye screenings for Hispanics, Kotes for Kids, Black Belt Health Clinics, Sista Strut (breast cancer awareness) and hundreds of other community projects. A regional nursing conference sponsored in 2002 was titled “Legal Savvy in the New Millennium: You have a responsibility to be informed”. In 2006, BBNA’s “Legends in White” was born where area nurses are honored for their contributions to nursing. In 2009, BBNA updated and revised its existing nursing student mentorship program. 

Presently, for African Americans and other minorities in Jefferson County and throughout Alabama, BBNA continues to be a valuable and visible beacon for positive change in our community. We continue to increase awareness, educate and empower our public by providing preventive health screenings, lifestyle modifications and education through health fairs, presentations, seminars and workshops. Programs such as “Survive and Thrive with Five: A Diabetes Prevention and Education Program”, “Be HeartSmart: Act Now”, “Back to Sleep”, “You Don’t Know My Story…The Silence of Domestic and Sexual Violence” among many others address the high prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, infant mortality, domestic and sexual violence in our community. Our domestic violence initiative is very near and dear to us because of the loss of BBNA members and close family of members to this silent crisis. We have strong partnerships with our domestic violence court system and we are working vigorously to address this complex problem. Our longstanding extensive partnerships and collaboration with faith based organizations (area churches) and organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Susan G. Komen, Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, Spirit of Luke Charitable Foundation, and others help us to accomplish our mission for our residents.   We could not do what we do without our community partners.

BBNA nurses are leading the way from the bedside to the boardroom. We are making a difference in the lives of our patients, our community and our profession.   BBNA members are staff nurses, nurse managers, nurse practitioners, nurse educators and nurse coordinators leading daily on the frontlines of care. These nurses are passionate about providing quality healthcare as we embrace new technologies such as electronic health records. They’re resolving emerging issues such as helping patients understand their benefits under the Affordable Care Act and flexing with their ever-changing roles by increasing their diversity, learning new languages and becoming life-long learners to research best practices and champion new standards of care for all nurses to follow.

At NBNA’s 42nd Annual Institute and Conference in Philadelphia in August 2014, BBNA received the NBNA Community Service Award for outstanding community service. A BBNA past president has served as moderator at the National Black Nurses Day on Capitol Hill where nurses from across the country meet with members of congress to discuss the importance of quality care and nursing’s role as leader in the era of healthcare reform. She has also served as moderator at Alabama’s Nurses Day at the Capitol in Montgomery and is currently a member of the nominating committee for the Alabama Board of Nursing.

 BBNA nurses serves a co- leaders and investigators with the Alabama Health Action Coalition Future of Nursing Campaign, whose goal is to transform health care through nursing in our state and increase the number and proportion of BSN graduates. Our mentorship program is preparing our future nurses for success in their nursing programs and future leadership roles.   One of our new graduate nurses lends her voice by writing a blog for Minority Nurse magazine addressing issues of concern to nursing students, new and experienced nurses. We can certainly say that the dreams of our founding president Deborah C. Walker and vice president Geneva Irby are being transformed into reality.

As we project into the future, BBNA continues to embrace the mission of the NBNA to investigate, define and determine the health care requirements of African Americans and other diverse communities to foster optimal health and health care services commensurate with that of the larger society. We build on the collaborative model set forth by our founders both locally and nationally. Providing the highest quality of community service and programs with specific and measurable outcomes is the impetus for making a difference. Membership development and continuous engagement are always at the forefront. Our proven leaders serve as role models for leadership development for our new nurses. Our future is secure by ensuring the success and mentoring of our future nurses and their career development.

Certainly, BBNA is excited and looks forward to what the next twenty-five years hold. Our anniversary theme reflects this as well, “BBNA: Celebrating 25 Years and Beyond”. Our aspirations are to build an even greater legacy of impact and achievement by “raising the bar” of our past successes. We cannot do this without you. Please visit our website frequently for the most updated information and calendar of events. We invite you to join us in “making a difference” in our communities. We have a place waiting just for you! Truly, together we can make a difference.

 

Sincerely,

Lindsey. Harris
Lindsey Harris, DNP, FNP-BC
President, Birmingham Black Nurses Association, Inc.
Website: www.birminghambna.org
Email: info@birminghambna.org