The Carbon County commissioners recognize the importance of quality hospitals and nurses.

That's why, on Thursday, the board adopted two proclamations in honor of National Hospital Week and National Nurses Week, which will be held May 6 through May 12.

The National Hospital Week proclamation states that the theme for the week is "Making Miracles Happen," in Carbon County.

"This celebration is a reminder that hospitals are foundations of the communities which built them, serving the people of those communities from all walks of life," the proclamation states. "The hospitals of Blue Mountain Health System are proud to be the community hospitals with its mission to provide the highest quality health care to those it serves, enhancing life in a compassionate environment. The hard working people that compose our hospitals and nursing homes deserve universal regard and appreciation for keeping our community healthy.

"Therefore, the Carbon County Board of Commissioners asks that all residents of Carbon County join in honoring all hospital and nursing home staff of the Blue Mountain Health System, not just during this week, but at every opportunity throughout the year."

The National Nurses Week proclamation states, "National Nurses Week is being observed May 6-12 in celebration of nurses providing safe and high quality patient care, and in order to map out the way to improve our health care system. The depth and breadth of the nursing profession meets the different and emerging health care needs of the American population in a wide range of settings. A renewed emphasis on primary and preventive health care will require the better utilization of all of our nation's professional nursing resources and professional nursing has been demonstrated to be an indispensable component in the safety and quality of care of hospitalized patients. ... The cost-effective, safe and quality health care services provided by nurses will be an ever more important component of the U.S. health care delivery system in the future.

"Therefore, the Carbon County Board of Commissioners ask that all residents of Carbon County join in honoring all nursing professionals."

The commissioners presented the two proclamations to Toni Gibson, associate vice president of nursing; and Lisa Johnson, vice president of public relations, who represented the hospitals.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, thanked the nurses and hospitals for everything they do for the community and for being one of the largest employers in the county.

Commissioner William O'Gurek echoed Nothstein's thoughts, thanking the health system for being a big part of the community.

"I hope the people believe that Blue Mountain is there, not only as a major provider of medical services that people need throughout this county, but as an employer," he said. "The commissioners really appreciate what's being done at the hospitals."

Following the presentation, Gibson thanked the board for its support.

"It's so good to know that the county commissioners acknowledge us and value the work we do," she said. "It means a lot to us."

Johnson echoed Gibson's thoughts and explained that in honor of hospital and nurses week, the Blue Mountain Health System Lehighton and Palmerton campuses; as well as the Summit nursing home, will be hosting various activities, including a food drive, which will benefit food pantries in Carbon County. The drive, which asks staff, volunteers and physicians for nonperishable food items, runs until May 18 and will be distributed during the week of May 21.

Other activities at the hospital planned for next week include: Make your own sundae day for employees; personal defense classes at Gnaden Huetten on Monday and at Palmerton on Wednesday; a breakfast bariatric surgery educational program, hosted by Dr. Vitaly Sawyna on Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. in Palmerton; a Celebrating the Journey financial discussion on Friday, May 11, at both campuses; and a service awards presentation on Thursday, May 10, at 10 a.m. in Palmerton; and 2 p.m. in Gnaden Huetten.

Two special activities that Gibson highlighted that are also planned include Nurses Night Out, which is scheduled for Monday, May 7, at 5 p.m., at the Blue Mountain Conference Center, Sixth and Iron streets; and My Three Words, a program that asks staff to submit three words of inspiration. These submissions will be compiled and displayed at both hospitals during the week. So far, over 50 submissions have been received for the project.

Alicia Shutack-Silliman, administrator of the Summit, added that activities at the Summit have also been planned over the next few weeks. Activities include: "Remembering Hess's Department Store" presentation by storyteller Kathy Long at 2:30 p.m., May 14; a visit by state Rep. Doyle Heffley at 10 a.m. on May 15; a nursing home week buffet on May 16; musical performances and a make your own sundae party.

Blue Mountain Health System has two campuses in Carbon County, Palmerton Hospital in Palmerton and Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital in Lehighton.