In Sandy’s Wake, Extra Special Appreciation For Coney Island Hospital Nurses

Coney Island Hospital nurses go Gangnam Style during Nurse Appreciation Week.

Coney Island Hospital nurses, now fully reunited after months of work to bring Coney Island Hospital back online, celebrated National Nurses Week with five days full of events to celebrate their contributions to the hospital community.

National Nurses Week kicks off on May 6, National Nurses Day, and lasts through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. It’s a week to celebrate nurses and their caregiving. But while many New York City hospitals celebrate with just a luncheon, Coney Island Hospital has been going all-out for its nurses for years – and this year’s festivities carried special meaning in a hospital devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

“[Nurses Week at Coney Island Hospital] is a time to make sure that everybody finally gets to have some fun,” said Terry Mancher, the hospital’s nursing chief. “They love it. It’s good for nurse retention and morale.”

Mancher said that while most other hospitals celebrate their nurses with a luncheon, Coney Island Hospital celebrates with a week of events. This year they had service awards, a dance crew, a Broadway Comes to CIH event, and a cultural night when the nurses share their cultural heritage with their co-workers. The week caps off with the most boisterous, electric event of them all: the Record Label Review, when scores of nurses perform songs, dances and show off costumes from major music artists.

Mancher herself even did a little impromptu Gangnam Style during the event, and joined in on Alicia Keyes’ “Girl of Fire” – although she was certain to tell the audience to delete any photos of video they took of her performance.

Coney Island Hospital nurses played a key role in helping evacuate dozens of patients into upper-floors of the hospital as Sandy’s waters crashed into the building’s lobby, flooding the first floor and basement. The facility lost power from Con Edison, and as the water rose, they also had to shut down their generators to avoid damaging. The nurses stayed with their patients, providing comfort and solace until the hospital could be fully evacuated on October 30.

While the hospital remained offline for months, nurses were redeployed at facilities around the city. In the last few months, they’ve finally been reunited, as most of the hospital’s services have been restored.

And the return to familiarity has had a marked effect on the nurses, Mancher said, leading to one of the most meaningful Nurses Week since the extravagant celebrations began approximately 15 years ago.

“Everyone’s smiling all week and it makes it better than ever,” Mancher said. “Everyone felt more united, everyone came back, and we’re finally one big happy family again.”

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