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National Nurses Week shines light on local nurses

James Livingston, Lauren Cross, Lyn Swann and Judy Young are registered nurses working at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.
James Livingston, Lauren Cross, Lyn Swann and Judy Young are registered nurses working at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, people regularly asked James Livingston and other nurses at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center why they would risk their lives. 

Livingston would answer with another question, "If I don't do it, who will?"

"It's kind of a job that's not just an occupation," he said. "We live this. That's who we are."

Nurses are celebrated for who they are every year from May 6-12 through National Nurses Week. The week ends on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is considered the founder of modern nursing. 

“It takes someone really special to be able to care and want to make a difference and connect with patients,” said Judy Young, chief nursing officer at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.

Nurses clock in and out at the hospital, but the instinct to help never clocks out. 

“We're always running into the fire,” said Lyn Swann, a nurse at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. 

Years ago on Mother’s Day, Swann witnessed a Jet Ski collision while sitting on the beach. She got up, along with two other nurses and a fireman. They weren’t at the beach together, but when the emergency arose, they all jumped into action together. 

Nurses find their calling in a variety of ways. 

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center's Lauren Cross, who’s been in the nursing field for 23 years, spent a lot of time with nurses as a child. She experienced a form of childhood epilepsy, which caused her frequent trips to the hospital for electrocardiograms and other tests. Since she was 7 years old, she never wanted to be anything other than a nurse.

“The doctors would come out and say all these things, but I never knew what it was,” Cross said. “But there was always someone right before them or right after them that would make it better. That’s where I found my love for nursing.” 

That sentiment of loving the job was shared amongst the nurses. Although the job has its challenges, the nurses said it's rewarding. 

After a middle-aged man arrived at the emergency room with all the symptoms of an impending heart attack — clutching his chest, shortness of breath and sweating — he coded twice.

“We had to defibrillate him. He went to the cardiac catheterization lab. We saved his life,” Livingston said. “He came back with his wife a few weeks later to meet the staff. You want to talk about an amazing feeling — to be able to greet him and for him to thank us — that was very rewarding.”



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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