Several of the city’s black and Caribbean nurses got honored at the 29th National Black Nurses Day Celebration at Queens Hospital in Jamaica on Feb. 24.
The annual event organized by the New York Black Nurses Association recognizes the trailblazing women in health care changing the scope of the nursing field. Guests packed the auditorium in the hospital to support the nurses receive their honors, and even some of the honorees were just as happy to also support their fellow nurses.
“It was so awesome — it’s always so inspiring to see other people in my profession and seeing what they do to excel,” said Norma Foster-Wharton, an honoree and nursing manager at New York Presbyterian hospital.
“It’s really a testament to the impact of what we’re doing in the community — whether it’s education, nursing administration, or behind scenes in the physician office — doing what we do creates roads for others and it’s beautiful.”
Foster-Wharton came to United States from Grenada as a teen and was inspired to enter nursing by a relative. Now more than two decades into her profession she manages a staff responsible for 40 patient beds, and expresses pride in her career as well as the staff that continues to inspire her, she said.
“I’m proud of being able to help people when they’re vulnerable and sick and being able to affect change that is sustained,” said Foster. “And just being able to see my staff grow — it’s been a good outcome and my staff is a big factor in my work.”
Other honorees were registered nurses Pamela Roberts-Griffin, Darlene Barker-Ifill, Yvonne Bristow, Joyce Fowler, Dr. Jane Lederer, and the community award was presented to Executive Vice President of Queens Hospital Center, Antonio Martin.
Organizers of the event say for 29 years of spotlighting the black nurses in the community gives individual recognition to their talents, and serves as a positive influence for up-and-coming nurses.
“The fact that we just developed and evolved and worked together to get it done shows it’s not just us — it’s a community of nurses of color because one group paved the way for the other and we have to respect each other’s history and contributions,” said Marcia Skeete, a registered nurse and chairwoman of the New York Black Nurses Association. “We serve and look out for people who look like ourselves along with other people.”
Appreciating black nurses for their work is their aim, and Skeete says it is something they always look forward to doing because of women like mistress of ceremony and honoree, Darlene Barker-Ifill, who recently broke a barrier.
“Darlene Barker-Ifill just became nurse executive for Bronx Psychiatric which is a big honor for black women,” she said. “It’s an important situation to inspire our aspiring nurses so they can see it’s possible.”