Nurse Recognition Day 2023
The union’s Nurse Recognition Day awards dinner on May 4 celebrated everything that defines the Federation of Nurses/UFT nurses — compassion, humanity, leadership and a passion for care, as well as putting patients first and contributing to a unified voice through union service.
UFT Vice President Anne Goldman, who heads the Federation of Nurses/UFT, thanked members for their dedication in serving patients and families in the “most vulnerable and fragile moments of their lives.” Without nurses, she said, “the humanity would be gone from the ability to care for people.”
The event at UFT headquarters during National Nurses Month honored the achievements of 20 hospital and home care nurses as leaders, advocates, trailblazers and humanitarians. “Health care is a business,” Goldman said. “The countervailing force to the bottom line, to money, is our voice. And to have that voice, we need you, your help and your advocacy.”
Staten Island University Hospital South endoscopy nurse Melissa Conti received a Hospital Nurse of the Year award. Her detox unit shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic and, without complaint, she has adapted to and thrives on her new unit.
Conti, a nurse for three years, said she has soaked up knowledge from her experienced colleagues in her assignment. “Now I’m in surgery, and I have my specialty, endoscopy, so that’s a whole new love that I never would have known,” she said.
Irene Scully, a labor and delivery nurse for 41 years at NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn, received a Nurse of Distinction award. She said her co-workers are like her family, and they celebrate many holidays together at work because of their demanding schedules. “We grew up together, we learned together, we fought together, we did our union strike together. We were strong together,” she said.
Ruth Caballero, a former accountant who found her true calling as a nurse, received a Nurse of Distinction award for her work at Visiting Nurse Service Health. “I love helping people, and I love watching them reach their optimal level of wellness,” she said. “It’s rewarding. I tell you, every day I go to work with joy in my heart.”
After 21 years with VNS and 30 years as a nurse, Caballero will retire in July and plans to “give back” as a Federation of Nurses/UFT volunteer. “I’m just so grateful to be part of this union,” she said.
NYU Langone night shift nurse Darryl Valdez, a nurse for seven years who received a Trailblazer Award, said nurses are the “backbone of this health care system.”
He closed his remarks after accepting the award with a popular quote whose author is unknown: “Save one life, you’re a hero. Save 100 lives, and you’re a nurse.”