For the first time, the New York Yankees organization is honoring a Nurse Hero.
Fans are asked to vote on 10 nominees, and the winner — who gets VIP seats to the game — will be announced during the June 20 game against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium.
Voting is open through June 8 at nurse.org. The winner will be announced June 10.
The recognition is an honor in itself for one nurse nominee. Jan Kaminsky, a “born-and-raised” Yankee fan, saluted her fellow nominees’ accomplishments.
“Everybody’s doing good work,” the Maplewood, New Jersey, resident said. “It’s nice to be celebrated.”
‘Welcoming and affirming’
Kaminsky, a professor of nursing at City University of New York, is director of education at Rainbow Health Consulting, which offers courses for medical professionals on treating patients who are part of the LGTBQ community.
She realized how much medical professionals didn’t know about LGBTQ health challenges during a presentation at a medical conference. Kaminsky was there to discuss treating transgender children in a clinical setting, but she realized how much these highly trained health professionals didn’t know about this particular population. “We really got stuck on terminology,” she said.
Medical professionals need to understand the health disparities that LGBTQ people face, Kaminsky said. “Everything from access (to) finding providers who are welcoming and affirming,” she said. “Getting poor diagnoses or late diagnoses lead to poorer outcomes for patients.”
For example, the Centers for Disease Control recently reported that for transgender high school students, 34.6% of students had attempted suicide in the past 12 months.
Kaminsky, who holds a doctorate in nursing, is now working on forming the National LGBTQ+ Nurses Association.
She admits that it would be great to win the VIP tickets and treatment, but said she looks forward to a fun day at the Bronx stadium with her family.
First aid in Haiti
Jacqueline Cassagnol laughs when asked if she’s a Yankee fan.
“Most of my friends are Yankee fans,” she said diplomatically. Even though Cassagnol admits she’s not a big sports fan in general, she finds the Yankees honor “pretty cool” and is excited for an inside look at the stadium before the June 20 game.
“The most important thing is to increase awareness of WCFR and its mission,” said Cassagnol, referring to the nonprofit she founded, Worldwide Community First Responder Inc., a Spring Valley-based organization that provides community-based first-response and first-aid training.
Cassagnol came up with the idea for WCFR during a trip with Rockland Haiti Relief after the 2010 earthquake shook the country. The Brooklyn-born Cassagnol spent many a school break in Haiti with her grandparents, so her ties to the Caribbean nation are strong.
Cassagnol said that during a first-aid training someone stood up and said, “If only we knew what you are saying right now fewer people would have died in the earthquake.”
“I broke down,” she said. “That’s what made me want to do this work.”
A member of the Haitian American Nurses Association, Cassagnol was a “safe community” award winner by Volunteer New York and a “nurse of the year” by March of Dimes New York. The U.S. Haitian Chamber of Commerce named her a Haitian American Young Citizen of the Year in March.
The registered nurse holds a master’s degree in nursing and is pursuing a PhD at Pace University in Pleasantville; her dissertation focuses on disaster preparedness.
Care amid chaos
Mary McCaffrey is an assistant nurse manager at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, part of Westchester Medical Center. A single act of heroism was highlighted in her nomination.
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One terrible day, the Westchester Medical Center went on lockdown on Aug. 8, 2018, after a man entered his wife’s room with a shotgun, killed her and then killed himself. McCaffrey kept young patients calm as chaos and alarms swirled around.
McCaffrey is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, with a specialty in family medicine.
Vote for 1
Other New York Yankee Nurse Hero nominees include:
- Grace Ogiehor, director of nursing at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens and founder of the 3,000-member Nigerian Nurses Association.
- Jennifer Pavone, manager of NYU Langone’s Heart Failure Advanced Care Center, Ventricular Assist Device Program and heart transplant program.
- Paul Coyne, a nurse practitioner at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. He works in adult-gerontology medicine with a subspecialty in palliative care. Coyle is also president of Inspiren and created the world’s first cognitive patient assistant, a wall-mounted device called “iN.”
- Marie Carmel Garcon, a nurse practitioner who provides primary care to the homebound population of Washington Heights and Inwood areas with Columbia Doctors’ Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Group. Garcon moved to New York from Haiti as a teenager who didn’t speak any English. She now holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate.
- Lisbeth Caiafa, a Uniondale, Long Island, school district nurse, recently aided a fellow passenger who had collapsed during an American Airlines flight. Her husband, who nominated her, said she was a big Yankees fan.
- Julia Andrechuk works for Christian Nursing Registry Home-Care on Long Island. A licensed practical nurse, Andrechuk first pursued a medical career because her brother survived a brain tumor when they were children. During her studies, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She is now cancer free.
- Catherine Bauer, director of Digestive Health, University of Virginia Medical Center, travels around the world teaching on infection control measures in the world of GI and advocating for patient safety.
The first 3,000 nurses to purchase tickets for the June 20 game can receive a free scrubs shirt with the New York Yankees logo. Voting directions and profiles of each nominee can be found at nurse.org
Nancy Cutler covers People & Policy for the USA Today Network Northeast. Twitter: @nancyrockland
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