“Every single nurse who worked through this incredible coronavirus crisis” is a hero, UFT Vice President for Non-DOE Members Anne Goldman told participants from the Federation of Nurses/UFT during the union’s seventh annual Nurse Recognition Day, held virtually on May 6.
Goldman, the head of the Federation of Nurses/UFT, said the challenge was unimaginable. Private-sector nurses, she said, “began a journey without the necessary armor or equipment,” including N95 masks. The UFT provided personal protective equipment and union representatives delivered meals to its nurse members at the height of the pandemic.
“We did whatever we had to do to keep our folks on the front line safe,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
Ruth Caballero of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York was honored as the Home Care Nurse of the Year. In an inspirational video featured at the event, Caballero carefully puts on personal protective equipment and visits a COVID-19 patient who was discharged from the hospital. Caballero reassures these patients, who are afraid “they’ve been sent home to die” that she’ll help them fight the disease and “they’re being sent home to live.”
Her colleague, Kaiser Mojica, and Jesse Dwyer, who was on duty at Staten Island University Hospital South during the ceremony, were Trailblazer Award winners.
“We draw strength from the union. We learn from each other,” said Mojica.
Retiree Award honorees Barbara Wisdom of the Visiting Nurse Service and Nancy Miller of Staten Island University Hospital, devoted years to their nursing careers and the UFT. Wisdom was a union negotiator and grievance representative. Miller, a founding member of the hospital’s UFT chapter and the chapter leader since 2006, said, “The union is the best thing that ever happened to us.”
Staten Island University Hospital nurse Bevin Sullivan, the Nurse of Distinction honoree, is a mentor to fellow nurses and is active in contract negotiations. Her colleague Kerine Duffy, Nicola Toney of the Visiting Nurse Service, and Joann Ali and Maria Paradiso of NYU-Langone Hospital – Brooklyn, were all honored as RN Advocates for being a voice for fellow nurses. “Together we will protect our rights, and together we will continue to make a difference,” said Toney.
The Hospital Service of the Year Award was given to all the Medical Intensive Care Unit/4600 Registered Nurses at NYU-Langone and to Alana Gonsky of Staten Island University Hospital.
Nurses’ “skill, dedication and compassion were extraordinary,” said Gonsky, “not only toward patients and their families but supporting one another as well.”
NYU-Langone’s Sandra Nin and Charlesetta O’Neal of the Visiting Nurse Service were the Union Service Award recipients.
“Every day we go to work, we are heroes,” O’Neal said. “We go above and beyond the call of duty.”