‘It’s Joe Time!’: proclaims Vincentian nurse at DNC

RN Scheena Iyand Robyn Tannis (right) with daughter, Siboney (center) and New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul during roll call at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night.
RN Scheena Iyand Robyn Tannis

A Vincentian-born Registered Nurse (RN) at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn did not hesitate to “big up” her country while hailing Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, as the next president of the United States during Tuesday night’s virtual Democratic National Convention (DNC).

“As an immigrant from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and an 1199SEIU (local union) Registered Nurse, I’m proud to be part of America’s fight against COVID-19,” Scheena Iyandé Robyn Tannis told a national television audience during the delegate roll call for New York State.

“But many health care workers do not get paid sick leave, or have enough protective equipment,” she added. “I have two children with asthma and a mother who’s high-risk. I worry every day about bringing this virus home to them.

“Joe Biden’s plan will help us take better care of your loved ones, as well as our own,” Tannis continued. “Along with Lt. Gov. (Kathy) Hochul, I cast New York’s votes: 44 votes for Bernie Sanders, and 277 for our next president, Joe Biden. It’s Joe time!”

In a text message to members Tuesday night, before the roll call, 1199SEIU said: “Scheena is a dedicated RN at Brooklyn’s Brookdale Hospital, and we are proud to have her representing 1199 on the national stage.”
Tannis, 41, disclosed to Caribbean Life on Wednesday that her mother, Charlene “Faye” Cato, 64, who resides with her in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens section of Brooklyn, has a genetic clotting disorder.

“Being asked to represent New York State at this year’s Democratic National Convention to nominate Joe Biden for President came as a shock to me,” said Tannis, the Assistant Head Nurse in the Coronary Care Unit at Brookdale Hospital. “I could never have imagined being given such an honor.

“When I was approached, I was told that I caught their attention after they saw two interviews I did during New York’s height of the pandemic and that the DNC wanted to highlight everyday heroes,” she added. “I do not believe that I am a healthcare hero. I am a person who truly believes in using one’s talents to benefit the community.

“I want people to know that COVID-19 is very serious,” Tannis continued. “I have lost colleagues, friends and patients to this dangerous virus. We must continue to be vigilant in the fight against it.”

Tannis said that when she was asked to write the nominating speech for Biden, she “had no other choice than to use that platform to highlight my country of birth.

“I am proud to be a native of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” she said. “I hope that I made my fellow Vincy (Vincentian) people proud on the national stage in the United States.”

Tannis, better known as “Yande” to most, said she was born on Jun. 8 1979 in Villa, a few miles outside Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, to Cato, formally from Georgetown, the country’s second main town, and Godwin “Bruds” Tannis, a native of Bequia, the largest to the St. Vincent Grenadines islands.

She said she attended the Kingstown Preparatory School before migrating to the United States in 1989.

After graduating from Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn and Hunter College-Bellevue School of Nursing, City University of New York (CUNY) in Manhattan, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Tannis said she went on to obtain her Master’s degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Lehman College, CUNY, in the Bronx. She said she is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Nursing Practice at American Sentinel University.

At Brookdale Hospital, Tannis said she is certified in both Critical Care and Wound Care, and is one of the 1199SEIU Registered Nurse Delegates, “where my fellow delegates and I continue to advocate for patients and staff in the Brownsville/East New York section of Brooklyn.”

Tannis, who has been working at Brookdale Hospital since 2005, is also an Adjunct Clinical Instructor of Critical Care Nursing at Molloy College.

In addition, she is a member of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. and sits on the Parent Committee of CASYM Steel Orchestra, Inc. in Brooklyn.

Tannis said her two children — daughter Siboney, 17, who accompanied her at the DNC Tuesday night, and son Ajani, 8 — are “truly the joys of my life.

“I enjoy reading, education, music, laughing, telling jokes, traveling, going to the beach, playing mas, dancing and loving God,” she said. “My belief is that we should love and care for one another every day as God loves and cares for us.

“God did not put us here to hate; rather He wants us to love and enjoy what this world has to offer,” Tannis added.