A first-of-its-kind COVID-19 recovery community hospital in England will be named in honor of Mary Seacole. A Jamaican nurse who established a hospital to support British officers wounded in the 19th-century Crimean War. The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom confirmed that the NHS Headley Court Hospital located in Leatherhead, Surrey, will be the site of the NHS Seacole Center. The venue has a capacity of 300 beds for patients. Health experts hope that the hospital will successfully provide capacity necessary to free up beds in neighboring hospitals so they can handle non-COVID cases.
Mary Seacole was born in Jamaica and was denied official approval from the UK War Office to travel to the Crimea with legendary nurse Florence Nightingale’s mission of mercy in the area. Seacole went ahead and paid her own way to the Crimea and established a hospital there in spite of the War Office. Seacole also made visits to the battlefield to nurse wounded soldiers, becoming known as Mother Seacole for her efforts. Her extraordinary contributions to community healthcare prompted the NHS to recognize her with the hospital’s name.
A petition to name the Birmingham NEC Nightingale hospital after Seacole collected some 15,000 signatures in April of 2020. Patrick Vernon, who started the petition, said this action would reflect the diversity of the UK’s population as well as the NHS. Work at the Leatherhead facility has been going on since April and has transformed the disused military hospital into the new COVID rehabilitation center. Its opening will be held virtually due to the nation’s lockdown to curtail the spread of the virus.
According to Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, the new facility will offer important care and will also recognize the pioneering work of Mary Seacole and other BAME nurses and staff who serve on the front lines of the COVID-19 response implemented by the NHS. Trevor Sterling, Mary Seacole Trust chairman, stated that it was great for the NHS to honor Mary Seacole in this way as she is famous for being a pioneer in community rehabilitation, He added that naming the hospital at Headley Court after her “symbolizes the contributions made by so many nurses and other healthcare workers” from backgrounds of all kinds and who make up the NHS organization.