In what was described as perhaps the best ever Caribbean American Healthcare Awards ceremony, 30 health care professionals were honored Tuesday night by Caribbean Life and Schneps Media during the paper’s annual gala commemorating Caribbean American Heritage Month.
It was standing-room-only at the sell-out, extravagant affair at Paradise Catering Hall, on Avenue U in Brooklyn, as Trinidad and Tobago’s Xavier Strings brought patrons to their feet with heart-throbbing performances. Motivational speaker Dennis Rahiim Watson also entertained the audience.
Organizers said they were “proud to honor” the “exceptional” 30 health care professionals for “all they do, and have done, to advance our health care system to its best possible outcome.”
“We are about you,” Victoria “Vicki” Schneps, president and founder of Schneps Media and co-publisher of Caribbean Life, told the ebullient honorees and patrons. “Tonight, we’re about the spectacular people who’re being honored with the Caribbean American Health Care Awards.
“You put this on,” she added. “It’s my honor to put the spotlight on you. We’re thrilled to have you celebrate with us.”
Schneps described the honorees as “outstanding,” stating that “they continue to leave an extraordinary combined footprint in our thriving city of limitless opportunities.”
Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the Haitian-born representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said it was “an honor” to address the ceremony.
“Somebody’s doing a wonderful job with Caribbean Life,” he said. “Thank you, Victoria, you bring us all together. Let’s put our hands together for Victoria (patrons reciprocated).
“If you don’t have (good) health, it does not mean anything,” added the City Council’s Health and Welfare Committee member. “On behalf of the honorees, you’re doing a wonderful job, especially the nurses. That’s why, together with my colleagues, we’re fighting for fair wages.”
Claudette Powell — the Jamaican-born former president of the Caribbean American Nurses Association and past honoree of the Caribbean American Health Care Awards — who served as mistress of ceremonies — said the health care professionals were honored for their “immeasurable contributions to the U.S.”
“Tonight, we will honor some of the best in the health care industry,” she said. “There’s one common thread: we’re very proud of our roots. Tonight, you’ll hear 30 remarkable people.”
Those “remarkable people” comprised: Amun Handa, Rose Elizabeth Arbouet, Gloria Murray, Jacqueline Cassagnol, Dr. Seanna-Kaye Denham Wilks, Tracey Ledeatte, Dr. Cascya Charlot, Sherly Demonsthenes-Atkinson, Kamini Doobay, Eustecia Herman, Dr. Cyrus McCalla, Noreen Peters, Danica Dorlette, Candace Cummings, Michelle Smith-Allen, Pamela Abner, Nurses Association of Counties of Long Island and Miranda Toussaint.
The others were: Dr. Adesh Randass, Joan Saint Fleur, Dr. Vilma Joseph, Chanelle Small, Audry Radcliffe, Andrew Campbell, Hulitt (Hope) Scott, Heather Tucker, Gladys Williams, Michelle Joseph, Ann Whyte-Akinyooye and Jennifer Trotman.
“I’m sure there are many, many people who could have gotten this award, but am happy it’s me,” said Guyanese-born Murray, a certified nurse midwife and nurse practitioner, who owns Mercy Midwives Women’s Health Center on Webster Avenue in the Bronx, to huge laughter.
In accepting her award, Dr. Denham-Wilks, the Jamaican-born patient care experience officer at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County, said: “You can take the girl out of Jamaica, but you can’t take the Jamaica out of the girl.”
Guyanese American Dr. Doobay, who grew up in Jamaica, Queens, said she “truly believes there’s a divine spark of God in every human being.
“While New York has good health care, we have too much racism,” added the emergency medicine resident at NYU / Bellvue and founder and organizer of NYC Coalition to Dismantle Racism in the Health System.
“I will not stop until black and brown people have equality,” she continued to thunderous applause.
Grenadian Noreen Peters, a registered nurse and 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn, said she has been working as a pediatric nurse for 28 years.
“It’s an honor and a pleasure to be here,” she said. “As I continue in my life journey, I hope I’ll make a difference for others.”
Danica Dorlette, a Brooklyn-born registered professional nurse, of Haitian and Cuban parentage, who works at New York Presbyterian Hospital at Weill Cornell Medical Center – said she was “truly honored to be here with people who inspired me.
“I want to thank my parents who remind me every day about nursing,” she said.
Xavier Strings, comprising the high-energy sister violinists Janelle Xavier and Janine Xavier-Cross, thrilled patrons with classical, folklore, soca and calypso renditions, stringing out, among others, The Mighty Sparrow’s “Jean and Dinah;” Kitchener’s “Sugar Bum Bum;” and Calypso Rose’s “Fire, Fire” and “Going Down San Fernando.”
Patrons were also enchanted when Kittitian-born, Laurelton, Queens-resident Aieleen Joseph, 84, using a cane for walking, sought to upstage the sisters, as she danced to the hypnotic rhythms.
“She does this all the time,” said Joseph’s daughter, Brooklyn-born Dr. Vilma Joseph, an honoree and associate clinical professor of Anesthesiology at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, alluding to her mother’s love of dancing.
The gala affair was sponsored by New York State Nurses Association; One Brooklyn Health System – Brookdale, Interfaith and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Centers; NYC Health + Hospitals – Kings County and Coney Island; and CABS Home Care.