“You have different skills, certification and education, but you all have the ability to stand up in the middle of chaos — no matter how crazy it gets — and say, ‘This person matters,’” Anne Goldman, the head of the Federation of Nurses/UFT and the UFT vice president for non-DOE members, told the nurses attending the union’s sixth annual Nurse Recognition Day on April 30.
Corrine Scherel showed that ability when she stopped an attempted suicide by hanging at NYU Langone-Brooklyn Hospital. But “we save lives every day,” said Scherel. “That’s just what we do.”
Scherel, who received this year’s Humanitarian Award, was one of 11 nurses recognized for exceptional union service and excellence in patient care at the ceremony at UFT headquarters in Manhattan.
Maya Domashitsky also faced a frightening situation at NYU Langone-Brooklyn — she was assaulted by a patient in the intensive care unit. Goldman called Domashitsky, named the Hospital Nurse of the Year, a warrior and a hero.
It’s important not only to care for patients, but to help each other, and Sophia McField, the Homecare Nurse of the Year, from the Jewish Home and Hospital, is an incredible leader and advocate for her colleagues’ rights, Goldman said.
Marie Glenn Drew-Dayao praised her fellow nurses and case managers for supporting each other and accepted her Nurse of Distinction award “not just for me but my teammates.”
Rosemary Scheriff and Maxine Webb of NYU Langone-Brooklyn both are active in contract negotiations and received the RN Advocate Award for Justice. Webb, who emigrated from Jamaica at a young age, says she found her “voice” fighting for benefits for Federation of Nurses/UFT members. Scheriff, a UFT delegate for 33 years, said if it wasn’t for the union and the contract “we negotiate, there would be no way to make our institutions responsible and accountable for their infractions.”
Visiting Nurse Service of New York colleagues Ruth Caballero, the Trailblazer Award recipient, and Shawne Browne-Delaney, the Homecare Nurse of the Year, along with School Nurses Chapter Leader Cynthia Bennett, the recipient of the School Nurse of Distinction Award, all sit at the bargaining table. While nurses are there for patients, the UFT is there for its nurses, Caballero said.
Lisa Laona of Staten Island University Hospital South, this year’s Hospital Nurse of the Year, and VNS hospice nurse Nicola Toney, the Nurse of Distinction Award winner, embody the humanity and compassion of a dedicated caregiver. Both described the lengths to which nurses will go to fulfill the wishes of patients and their families.
We all deserve the “caring environment” we provide as nurses, Goldman said. But that “only happens when we are strong and we are protected,” she said. “And that is why we’re in the union.”