Episode 108: Nurses House



Dolphins for Nurses PosterNurses House is a little known organization that deserves to be widely known. Please tell us what the mission of Nurses House is.

The mission of Nurses House is to provide short term financial aid to registered nurses in need as a result of injury, illness, disability or other dire circumstance. Assistance covers basic necessary living expenses such as food, shelter, and medical needs.

When was Nurses House founded, and what was its original purpose?

Nurses House was founded in 1922 after a woman named Emily Bourne made a $300,000 bequest to the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor – requesting the funds be used to “establish and maintain a country place where nurses from the city of New York can obtain needed rest, or where they can stay while convalescent.” A stately beachfront mansion was purchased in Babylon, Long Island, which could accommodate up to 50 guests at any given time. It officially opened to receive guests in 1924. It was incorporated under the name Cobble Court, Inc., although administration was provided by the American Red Cross. The home was appropriately titled “Nurses House” by its guests and later would become known only as Nurses House. Guests stayed either free of charge or for a nominal fee, depending on what they could afford.

Who was Emily Bourne, the woman who founded Nurses House? Why did she found the home?

Not much is known about Emily Howland Bourne except that she was not a nurse, but a humanitarian and philanthropist who had great admiration for nurses. She was the daughter of Johnathan Bourne, a wealthy Massachusetts whaling ship owner, state legislator and namesake of the town of Bourne, MA. 

Who can apply for assistance from Nurses House?

Any registered professional nurse residing in the United States who is facing dire circumstances due to illness, injury, disability or other catastrophe.

How many nurses do you help each year?

It depends on the number of nurses who apply and Nurses House and the funds at any given time. In 2013 Nurses House gave grants totaling $122,395 to 103 nurses. They are still referred to as “guests.”

What kind of help do nurses request?

The majority of requests are for assistance with rent, mortgage or medical bills. However, the Nurses House Service Program guidelines state that grants may be approved for the following, depending on specific need: rent, mortgage, utilities, telephone, food, clothing, basic health insurance premiums, medical expenses, transportation/travel expenses, home care services, and hardship requests.

How do you raise money?

Nurses House depends solely on donations from nurses and the nursing community. Funds are raised through various fundraising activities and through monthly and annual appeals. Donations are accepted by mail and through the website www.nurseshouse.org. Many donations come in the form of gifts – to honor a friend or colleague or in memory of a nurse who has passed. Many nurses also choose to leave bequests to Nurses House in their will, just like Emily Bourne. These bequests have been integral to Nurses House’ long term success.

How can nurses get involved and spread the word?

The best way to get involved is to spread the word. Tell friends and colleagues about Nurses House and make sure they’re aware of how the organization can be beneficial to them. Talk to your colleagues about donating as a group or hosting a fundraiser for Nurses House. Nurses Week is a great time to show your support – and many hospitals have Nurses Week committees which handle activities such as these. Another way to help is simply making a small annual donation. If every registered nurse in the US gave just $5 per year Nurses House would have over $15 million per year to offer nurses in need.

Deborah Elliott, RN, BSN, MBA Executive Director of Nurses House, Inc. and the Foundation of New York State Nurses, Inc.

Stephanie Dague, BA Director of Development for Nurses House, Inc.