Bob Marley’s “I want to Love You” welcomed honoree Novlet Davis, at the second annual Caribbean Life Healthcare Awards held in Brooklyn’s ornate Grand Prospect Hall as she received her award. Ms. Davis is a critical care and cardio thoracic nurse.
“That’s right, I want to love them and treat them right,” she said of her patients and the devotion to the profession and her commitment to treating underserved populations.
Ms. Davis was among the 34 doctors, nurses, home health aides, and other healthcare professionals from the Caribbean community recognized on June 25 as stellar professionals.
After each awardee’s bio was read, DJ Collin Gilbert played riffs from their home countries. And, to the selections of reggae, soca, Indian, Trinidadian, or compas music, friends, family, and fans paid tribute and danced in their seats.
Community News Group President and Publisher Jennifer Goodstein introduced Claudette Powell, president of the Caribbean-American nurses association, and former president of the Jamaican Nurses Association. Ms. Powell just returned from Jamaica having received the prestigious Governor General’s Diaspora Award.
As Master of Ceremonies, Powell gave context to the evening. “This is the second year where we gather to recognize Caribbean American healthcare professionals who have contributed to the well-being of the American society,” she said, noting that June is Caribbean Heritage Month. “The timing is indeed fitting.”
Ms. Powell acknowledged how New York City’s healthcare system is among the best in the world, and how much the Caribbean diaspora impacts it.
“Everyone’s story is unique,” she said. “But, there is one very common thread amongst all of us, we have a very strong connection with our Caribbean heritage. We are proud of our roots!”
Among those honored were Ena Bailey, a former Jamaican nurse who 20 years ago started a licensed home care agency that now employs 300; Dr. Henry Paul whose annual medical mission to northern Haiti treated 3,000 residents last year; nurse and educator Jacqueline Gulstone from Guyana whose medical trips have resulted in supply donations including more than 500 hospital beds to Guyana, and Dr. Ingrid Walker-Descartes who fights against child abuse.
Healthcare professionals share information and teach those around them as part of their practice and sometime move on to other fields, so this year there were many teachers honored, including Claudette Gordon at Bronx Community College, Jacqueline Nichols at Manhattan Community College, Judith Lewis at Medgar Evers, and Margaret Sukhram at SUNY, Old Westbury. Former adjunct at New York University and Beth Israel, Derrice Gordon last year established Transitions Career Institute School of Nursing in Flushing.
Also this year, Healthcare Awards went to five Army Reserve nurses.
Dr. Clifford Young and nurse Hilma Young — they’re married — were among the awardees.
Lorna Hylton-Webb, director of nursing for the methadone program at Beth Israel Mt. Sinai was moved to be nominated by a nurse she supervises. Carmen Rivera Centeno an investigator and also union activist brought her mother and other family members to share this achievement.
“This is such a surprise,” she said. “To be among the health elite. I am so honored.”
Some of those recognized have been in the medical field for more than 40 years.
Phyllis Lynn, director of nurse midwifery services at Maimonides Medical Center, who at age 73 has delivered more than 3,000 babies, confessed while dancing to the music that followed the formalities, “I’ll retire when I’m 80.”
This event pays tribute to healthcare professionals from the Caribbean community who contribute tirelessly to society through their work and their volunteer activities here and abroad in an atmosphere of affection, admiration, and fun.