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Caribbean nurses honor assembly speaker

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie receives award flanked by, (from left): Dr. Claudette Gordon, Pamela Roberts-Griffin, Dr. Virginia Bernard and Ingrid Baptiste.
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The Bronx, Manhattan and Westchester Chapter of the Caribbean American Nurses’ Association, Inc. (CANA) on Saturday, Oct. 12 honored New York State Assembly Carl Heastie and Jamaican-born the Rev. Audrey Bailey, priest-in-charge at St. Francis and St. Martha’s Episcopal Church in White Plains, NY, with the Community Service Award.

The nurses also honored Dr. Illouise Murillo-Tucker, the Belizean-born director of nursing for the Behavioral Health Department at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Hospital, with the National Service Award. Dr. Murillo-Tucker is also CANA vice president.

The ceremony took place during the Chapter’s 24th Annual Vernese Weekes Scholarship Luncheon, at Eastwood Manor, on Eastchester Road, in the Bronx.

“We are honored to recognize our distinguished guests, honorees, scholarship recipients and our 2019 Keynote Speaker Hopina Samuel, RN, a fellow member of CANA,” said Vincentian-born Registered Nurse Pamela Roberts-Griffin, president of CANA’s Bronx, Manhattan and Westchester Chapter since 2016, in her welcome address.

Roberts-Griffin — who has been working for the past 34 years as a registered nurse at Bronx Lebanon Hospital, now called Bronx Healthcare System — told Caribbean Life that her Chapter and CANA are “giving back, because it’s a very rewarding profession.”

Before receiving his award, Heastie, the 100th Speaker of the New York State Assembly, asked patrons to pray for the Bahamas “because they are still recovering from that (devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian)”.

Heastie said his father’s parents were from the Bahamas.

Rev. Bailey thanked God for “the opportunity that has been afforded me.”

“Pray for me that we work together knowing that no one stands alone,” she said after receiving her award. “No one is an island.

“Thank God for all nurses,” she added. “Without nurses, we’ll all suffer, because the doctors learn from the nurses. Nursing is not about profession but about service.”

Dr. Murillo-Tucker said she was “lucky to stand on the shoulders of others.

“No one of us got here on their own,” she told patrons. “I thank you all for this (award). All praise and honor go to God.”

Heastie, who represents the 83rd Assembly District in northeast Bronx, has the historic distinction of being the first African-American to serve as leader of the Assembly’s 150 members, representing communities across the state of New York.

Since his election as Speaker on Feb. 3, 2015, he said he has led the Assembly Democratic Majority in efforts to “uplift communities and promote a Families First agenda that prioritizes strategic investments in the health, safety, economic and social well-being of New York’s families.”

Under his leadership, Heastie said the Assembly has won a number of landmark victories that deliver on the Assembly Majority’s promise to expand opportunities for achievement in communities around the state.

Prior to his election as Speaker, Heastie – a lifelong advocate for workers’ rights – served as chair of the Assembly Labor Committee.

He was the principal negotiator in securing an increase in the minimum wage; and, in 2015, with the support of his Majority colleagues began the fight for $15 in the New York State Legislature.

Heastie said these efforts culminated in 2016 with the successful enactment of a graduated plan to raise the minimum wage across the state “to provide workers at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder a fair chance to achieve financial independence and success.”

Before becoming Speaker, Heastie was also the prime sponsor of the Wage Theft Prevention Act that provided a framework for the State Department of Labor to root out incidences of wage theft and help aggrieved workers reclaim their illegally withheld earnings.

Heastie said he is “a proud product” of New York City’s public schools, adding that, throughout his legislative career, he has been a “passionate advocate for the transformative power of education.”

He has joined his Majority colleagues in fighting for spending plans to provide funding for statewide universal pre-kindergarten programs and additional support for the state’s neediest schools.

Since he became speaker in 2015, Heastie said these efforts have secured more than $3.5 billion in additional school aid funding.

“These investments have not only provided an essential foundation for early childhood education, they help school districts afford the resources they need to provide a sound basic education to every child in New York,” Heastie said.

In 2016, he said this commitment was strengthened by the inclusion of additional support to establish community schools, “a holistic approach to providing students with needs-based education that provides wraparound health, social services, mental health and afterschool programming to promote the well-being of students alongside their academic success.”

Prior to joining the Assembly, Heastie served as a budget analyst in the New York City Comptroller’s office.

He earned a master’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in finance, from Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY) and a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and statistics from Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY).

Rev. Bailey perceived that God was calling her to the sacred ministry from an early age.

She said her involvement in the life of the church as a Sunday school teacher, youth leader for different groups, member of the vestry at The Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega in Spanish Town, Jamaica and a member of the Spanish Town Junior Jaycees, strengthened her call.

After wrestling with the call for seven years, Rev. Bailey said she answered and entered the United Theological College of the West Indies and the University of the West Indies, respectively, where she received a Diploma in Ministerial Studies and a Bachelor Degree in Theology.

For the past 26 years, Rev. Bailey said she has been “actively involved” in ministry, and regards serving her brothers and sisters as “a privilege and a blessing.”

She served at St. Margaret’s and St. Matthew’s Anglican Churches in Jamaica from 1993 - 2001 before answering the call to serve at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in the Bronx, as the Assisting Priest from 2001 – 2010 and then as Interim Priest from 2010 – 2012.

From 2013 – 2015, Rev. Bailey served at St. Martha’s Episcopal in the Bronx and in the Mount Vernon Ministry as an assisting interim priest.

Since November 2015, she has been the Priest-in-Charge at St. Francis and St. Martha’s Episcopal Church in White Plains.

In endeavoring to do her very best, Rev. Bailey said she is inspired by remembering that Jesus said: “What you do to the least of your brothers and sisters, you do unto me.”

Dr. Murillo-Tucker completed her basic training as a registered nurse at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Jamaica in 1980 before migrating to the United States that same year.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph College in 1985 and her master’s from Columbia University in 1997, while successfully completing the requirements for licensure as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Dr. Murillo-Tucker is a 2008 Fellow of the Leadership Institute for Black Nurses at New York University School of Nursing.

She earned her doctorate in Nursing Practice, with a focus on leadership, in 2015 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.

Dr. Murillo-Tucker is a board member of the Brooklyn-based Action, Performance Commitment (APC), Inc.; and a member of Sigma Theta Tau, Inc.

As a member of The Program in Global Mental Health of Mount Sinai Medical Center, she has participated in collaboration with the Belize Mental Health Program.

In this program, Dr. Murillo-Tucker said she implemented a Quality Assurance Program in conjunction with the Belize Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners.

She has also done research through the auspices of The Belize Ministry of Health that revealed psychiatric patients have a high level of trust in the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Dr. Murillo-Tucker has participated in several other research projects resulting in publications and contributions to nursing scholarship.

She said she is committed to the population she serves — the marginalized and disenfranchised mental health patients — and is a strong advocate for this group.

Dr. Murillo-Tucker is an active member of Vanderveer Park United Methodist Church in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

She said she gives “all thanks and praise to God,” who orders her steps and has shown her “the true meaning of living a life blessed with Grace and Mercy.”

Posted 4:03 pm, October 21, 2019
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