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Nursing 'Giant' Lumpkin Dies

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Barbara Lumpkin, who spent more than four decades advocating for nurses in Tallahassee and had her name affixed to a 2016 law, died Thursday, according to a statement issued by the Florida Hospital Association. She was 81.

The Ohio native received a nursing degree in 1958 and spent 16 years as a clinical nurse before moving to Florida in 1974 to work for the Florida Nurses Association.

She joined Baptist Health South Florida in 2007.

Lumpkin “built the foundation for a strong presence for nurses in the health policy arena in our state as well as nationally,”

Florida Nurses Association Executive Director Willa Fuller said in a statement. Lumpkin --- who was a fixture in the Capitol during legislative sessions --- was “a trailblazer” and “giant of the nursing profession,” said Phillis Oeters, vice president of government relations for Baptist Health South Florida. “I worked alongside her for decades and know that her advocacy saved and improved countless lives, and will continue to do so for future generations,” Oeters said in a statement.

Following her death, Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and former Gov. Jeb Bush lauded Lumpkin’s achievements.

“Her legacy will live on through the caring, hardworking nurses she loved so much,” Bush said in a statement.

In 2016, legislators affixed her name to a measure (HB 423) signed into law by Scott that allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe controlled substances.

The Barbara Lumpkin Prescribing Act was designed to make healthcare more efficient and less expensive for patients.

“It was an incredible honor to have the bill named after me, especially since legislators are incredibly stingy when it comes to naming a bill after someone,” Lumpkin said after the bill was signed.

State Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican who sponsored the Senate version of the legislation named for Lumpkin, called the bill's designation a “proud moment for both of us.”

She called Lumpkin a “friend, a mentor and an inspiration” to many. “I will miss Barbara’s wisdom, her wit, and we take comfort in the inspiration and example of her life, so very well-lived,” Grimsley said.