Zhang Jinyuan (2nd L) [Women of China]
Zhang Jinyuan, winner of the prestigious Chinese 39th Florence Nightingale Award, is the head of the Women's Volunteer Service Center of the Jiangxi Women's Federation in Nanchang, capital of southeast China's Jiangxi Province.
Born in 1929, Zhang began working in the field of medicine in 1951. In the 1950s, she was named a model worker twice in Nanchang.
Especially interested in nursing services for the elderly, Zhang has made 37 corresponding clinical inventions and has released more than 100 articles onthis issue in magazines and newspapers.
After retiring in 1992, Zhang began working as a nursing volunteer. "Over 60 years ago, Hong Kong established a community nursing service system, so we [mainland Chinese] should have such a system as well," said Zhang.
With this goal in mind, Zhang used her pension to found in Jiangxi Province in the year 2000 the Volunteer Nursing Service Center of the Red Cross, the first civil organization in mainland China committed to providing nursing services.
Zhang first established weekly, door-to-door, free health services and consultation for people living in impoverished communities.
Zhang and her group worked efficiently and effectively with the spectrum of diseases experienced by inhabitants of these communities. By doing so, they laid a solid foundation for an in-home nursing program.
A large population in Nanchang has benefitted directly from Zhang's in-home nursing program.
When Zhang learned about senior citizen Lu Ziyun, who has been confined in bed for 10 years, she visited him and personally cared for him.
Cai Juru, 86, underwent two surgeries to treat avascular necrosis — the dying of cellsin bone components due to interruption of the blood supply — in her legs. Du Guopeng, one volunteer of Zhang's team, went to her home to take care of her every day.
Under the influence of Zhang, there are now more than 70,000 volunteers on her team across the country, compared to the initial 17 retired nurses. In Nanchang alone, there are over 3,500 volunteers with different professional backgrounds and with ages ranging from 10 to 83.
The in-home nursing program has been expanded to 200 communities across the country.
In addition, Zhang and her team have been committed to promoting their service in 19 provinces and municipalities and holding training on how to take care of the elderly in more than 1,000 nursing homes across the country.
Many who have benefited from Zhang's team dubbed the team "Lei Feng Group" — named after China's national poster boy for morality Lei Feng, who became a cultural icon for his selfless loyalty to the Communist Party of China during the era of Chairman Mao (1893-1976).
Over the past several years, the team has been awarded more than 70 honorable titles.
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