Raising the Roof at the Opening Session

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 4,000 perioperative nurses and healthcare colleagues from nearly every state and more than 30 countries clapped, cheered, and cavorted to an original country tune, “Harmonized Care,” and kicked off AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2019 Saturday afternoon.

Cowboy hat and boot clad President Stephanie Davis, MSHA, RN, CNOR, CSSM, gaveled the 66th annual AORN conference into session. “Your attendance here exemplifies your commitment to lifelong learning,” she said.

The upbeat annual rite that formally launches the five-day educational conference and association business meeting recognized state councils and chapters and all members — including long-time legacy AORN members of 40, 50, and even 60-plus years. And, this year, there are more than 1,700 first-time attendees.

Music filled the grand ballroom of the Music City Center as Nashville recording artist and one of Rolling Stone’s “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know” Stephen Carey sang a touching rendition of “God Bless the USA” while more than 60 active duty military AORN members filed on stage.

He was followed by perioperative nurse Katie Ohh, the winner of NBC’s talent show “The Winner Is,” who belted out a moving acapella Star-Spangled Banner.

HCA Chief Executive Officer Sam Hazen welcomed attendees to the “healthcare capital of the world” where in addition to HCA, more than 500 healthcare companies are located.

“I’ve gone over the red line. I feel like I’m in operating room heaven,” he said, looking out at the thousands in the room. “We understand the significance of what you do. Nurses fundamentally make all the difference for what we do.”

The ceremony also paid tribute to Davis as she completes her tenure as Association President during this conference.