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SEEN UP NORTH: Nurses honoured


Tony Best

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Although it was far from the stone age when the Barbados Nurses’ Association of America made its appearance in New York, the world was a much different place than it is today.
President Lyndon Johnson was in the White House and the idea of a black person being elected president of the United States was an impossible dream. Today, President Barack Obama is running for re-election.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr was alive and well, Errol Barrow was leader of the one-year nation of Barbados, cable television was only being talked about in the United States, the Internet and social media were but figments of the imagination, and the HIV/AIDS scourge was about 30 years away from taking millions of lives in the world. Just as important, Barbadian and other Caribbean nurses hadn’t emerged  as the powerful forces in New York hospitals they were to become.
Forty-five years after having its first meeting in New York with nine nurses in the room, the Barbados Nurses’ Association, for years a highly visible organization on the relatively short list of social services groups of Bajan nationals, is doing more than just surviving.
It is prospering, providing scholarships, extending a helping hand to people in the diaspora and institutions at home while making its presence felt in the broader community.
“Throughout the changing scenes in health care and economic conditions, the association has remained constant,” the group stated recently when it celebrated its 45th anniversary with an anniversary and awards luncheon in New York.
And how did it achieve that goal?
The association attributed its success to its “firm foundation”, its members working together, “acceptance” of the [Florence] Nightingale tradition of providing health care to those who need it the most, and to an adherence to the principles contained in the association’s mission statement – promoting charitable, educational and humanitarian services to the community while establishing a coalition between other professional nurses and fostering  a feeling of collegiality.
“Your vision to establish this association in 1967, to maintain ties with your colleagues at home and, at the same time, to share information in order to improve health care is testimony to your nationalism and professionalism,” Prime Minister Freundel Stuart told the association in a message to its members and guests at the anniversary  and awards luncheon.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also sent a congratulatory message, said: “Our city is home to some of the finest medical institutions in the world and we are committed to helping more people live longer, healthier lives,”  he said. “Through its charitable and educational programmes, the Barbados Nurses’ Association has worked to improve the lives of not only New Yorkers of Barbadian descent, but . . .  all our residents.”
The association led by president Joan Cumberbatch, assistant director of nursing at the sprawling Kings County Hospital Centre in Brooklyn, has about 50 members. It has provided scholarships to Barbadians and other New Yorkers pursuing careers in the health care field and has contributed to the work of the Barbados Cancer Society, Stroke Support and the Born Haven Facility, both in Barbados.
At the luncheon, New York City detective Leroy Hutchinson was given the association’s Community Award; Jennylyn Griffith, Maureen V. Green and Wilmoth Cumberbatch-Richards received Lifetime Of Achievement Awards; and Ethline Solomon, the organization’s treasurer, and Adaline Patricia Waithe, were honoured as Officers Of The Year.
Two students – Alycia Amanda Richmond, who attends La Guardia Community College of the City University of New York, and Marlena Nicole Brown, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in life sciences at Pennsylvania State University – received scholarships.
Minister of Health Donville Inniss also sent a message praising the association and the Bajan nurses.

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