For Charlesetta O’Neal, nursing isn’t just a profession; it’s a calling. “We touch everyone in New York every day with our care,” said the Federation of Nurses/UFT’s Homecare Nurse of the Year, as she accepted her award at the union’s fifth annual Nurse Recognition Day on May 14.
O’Neal, who works for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, said a nurse’s passion for patients is sometimes challenged by excessive bureaucracy. “But there is a light — a voice,” she said. “That voice is the UFT, because they have my back.”
O’Neal was one of 10 nurses honored for their exceptional union service and excellence in patient care at the event at union headquarters in Manhattan.
Anne Goldman, the UFT vice president for non-DOE members, said the 10 honorees were respected by their colleagues, showed clinical expertise and displayed a spirit of camaraderie and diligence.
“We are so proud and honored to celebrate you tonight,” she said.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew praised the honorees and their colleagues for their expertise. “If you want good patient care, listen to the nurses,” he said. “It really is your strength — you know your profession.”
David Cardona, a nurse at Staten Island University Hospital South, which is part of Northwell Health, and Dao Ly, from New York University Langone-Brooklyn Hospital, were Hospital Nurse of the Year honorees.
Goldman praised Cardona as “someone you want on your team” and said Ly was “never too busy to be a mentor.” Ly thanked her colleagues “for providing me with an amazing second family.”
The Trailblazer Award went to Maureen Cann, also of NYU Langone. “What’s important is being part of this group,” Cann said. “It’s crucially important to be united,” she said, or ultimately patients will suffer.
Rose Faloye was honored with the Union Service Award and Lucille Fuchs was named the Retiree Nurse of the Year. Both hail from NYU Langone.
Humanitarian Awards went to Alicia Schwartz of VNS and Bita Mehrjou and Shanita Scotland of NYU Langone. Schwartz and Mehrjou were part of a two-week relief effort by union members in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico last October. Scotland did hurricane relief work in the Dominican Republic.
Courtney Holder, who works in the Emergency Room at Staten Island University Hospital South, was honored as the RN Advocate for Justice. A patient attacked Holder earlier this year and when he went to trial for the assault, her fellow nurses turned out in the courtroom to support her. “I wouldn’t have made it through without the union,” Holder said.
As each honoree talked about the support of fellow members, Mulgrew said that was the basis of the union’s strength. A union is its members, helping each other.
“You are all the union,” he said.