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Feature Stories December 28, 2012  RSS feed

Visiting Nurses Thanked For Comfort After Sandy

Storm Couldn’t Stop Their Care


City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (at left) presented a proclamation for exemplary service to the Visiting Nurse Service of New York during Hurricane Sandy Recognition Day at VNSNY’s Queens Regional Office. Crowley’s sister, Alice Crowley (second from right), is a registered nurse for VNSNY Acute Care in Queens. Joining them are (from left to right) Eloise Goldberg, vice president of VNSNY Acute Care Queens and Nassau; and Joan Marren, chief operating officer at VNSNY. 
(photo: Alison Postighone) City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (at left) presented a proclamation for exemplary service to the Visiting Nurse Service of New York during Hurricane Sandy Recognition Day at VNSNY’s Queens Regional Office. Crowley’s sister, Alice Crowley (second from right), is a registered nurse for VNSNY Acute Care in Queens. Joining them are (from left to right) Eloise Goldberg, vice president of VNSNY Acute Care Queens and Nassau; and Joan Marren, chief operating officer at VNSNY. (photo: Alison Postighone) The Visiting Nurse Service of New York hosted a special recognition day last Thursday, Dec. 20, for the thousands of health care professionals who brought home care to New Yorkers in need throughout all five boroughs and Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties before, during and after Hurricane Sandy.

At VNSNY’s Queens Regional Office in East Elmhurst, local heroes shared their stories and City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley gave remarks and presented a proclamation alongside her sister Alice Crowley, a registered nurse with VNSNY Acute Care.

During the storm, more than 5,000 nurses, home health aides, rehabilitation therapists, social workers and other VNSNY staff had “boots on the ground” to visit and care for homebound patients who were without power or whose homes had been lost or damaged in the storm. Many VNSNY staff left homes that were flooded or damaged by fire, unsure when they would be able to return.

With no public transportation in the first days, they reportedly drove or took cabs, rode bicycles, took to skates or walked—often for miles— to see their patients. Some crossed police barricades to provide emergency care to patients, others waded for blocks through knee-high water, found ways to get around powerless electronic buzzers and climbed pitchblack stairways to see their patients.

One home health aide knocked on 800 doors in the first days of the storm. Nurses worked with flashlights strapped to their heads or held them in their mouths as they changed bandages.

“Just as our founder Lillian Wald, the first visiting nurse, did nearly 120 years ago, when she climbed stairs to care for a young mother in desperate need, our staff was often the sole lifeline for thousands of New Yorkers,” said VNSNY CEO Mary Ann Christopher. “Even when their own homes were ravaged, the indomitable spirit of our mission-driven employees helped bring our storm-ravaged city back to its feet. With gratitude, we honor this spirit and commitment to care—despite extraordinary obstacles.”

At 13 different VNSNY locations throughout the New York Metropolitan area, these “Heroes of Sandy” gathered to share their stories and were recognized for their dedication and service. State Sen. Martin J. Golden, from New York’s 22nd District in Brooklyn, issued a certificate of appreciation and elected officials were also present at events in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.