This year, our annual awards usually titled “Man and Woman of the Year” go to our frontline health care workers. As COVID-19 ravages the world, these men and women risk their lives daily to save those who have become infected.
Never has it been more important to acknowledge the contributions and commitments of our local nurses. In honor of them, we have taken nominations from several local facilities of nurses and health care personnel working hard, day in and day out, to fight this virus. Below are three of some of our most notable local heroes, two of whom succumbed to the very virus they fought to defeat.
LONG ISLAND COMMUNITY HOSPITAL
Long Island Community Hospital was pleased to submit the names of two of their Courageous Hearts who not only embodied the selfless care and compassion of all of all frontline heroes during their time with us, but also made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect our community through this terrible storm of COVID-19.
“These two heroes will be remembered for their incredible work and their kind personalities,” said president and CEO Richard Margulis. “We will always honor them and celebrate their lives as a part of our hospital’s history.”
Ali Dennis Guillermo, RN
Guillermo personified the mission of the hospital and, according to staff, he should be forever remembered not just for his contributions during this pandemic, but for a long career of caring for his patients.
“He was always there to help with the difficult procedures and would make you feel like you were never alone,” co-worker of many years RN Geraldine Miranda said. “He would often say that life was short and that it was important to make time to spend with family. He loved life, was loved by everybody and could always make you laugh.”
He served 15 years as a dedicated RN at Long Island Community Hospital and was truly one of their own. He was born in 1975 and died in April 2020. He was married to Romiely Guillermo and lived in Patchogue. Together they had three children: Denice Guillermo, 21, Ali Dennis Guillermo, 18, and Aljion Guillermo, 12. He received his BSN and MSN from St. Paul University, Philippines, and celebrated 15 years at LI Community.
“He was beloved by the patients he cared for and was such an important member of the hospital family,” wrote Cynthia Ruf, vice president, marketing and branding, Long Island Community Hospital. “He shared in our good times, enjoying our celebrations and get-togethers, and he shared in the hard work of reaching out with his hands and his heart to his community in need.”
Marie Maurisseau, Nurse Aid
Maurisseau, known as Eunice to her family and friends, wore the hero’s cape on her back and her heart on her sleeve.
She was a true hero to her patients at Long Island Community Hospital, well before the pandemic, and served heroically as a dedicated team member fighting the front lines against it. Her colleagues recognized her dedication and will always be grateful for her tirelessly offering a helping hand.
“I worked with Eunice for over six years. She was the calm in the storm who, despite the danger, was not afraid to do what she had to do,” said co-worker, RN and nurse manager Suja Zacharia. “She faced each day with courage giving all in her presence a sense of calm, and made both patients and fellow caregivers feel like they were important.”
Maurisseau joined LI Community Hospital back in August of 1977. She lived in Bellport and died in May 2020.
“It would be impossible to count how many people she touched during all these years, but it is very clear how much she is missed,” added Ruff.
Mcpeak’s Assisted Living
McPeak’s Assisted Living facility is home to about 47 residents. Their mission is to provide a safe, clean environment in a former mansion that has been updated to include numerous safety features and modern amenities. They are located in a residential building on North Ocean Avenue in Patchogue and are licensed for 51 residents.
Jennifer Turner, Case Manager
During the coronavirus pandemic, all staff at McPeak’s were trained in and implemented infection control procedures to make sure that the residents did not become susceptible to the virus. None of it would be possible without the leadership of Jennifer Turner.
“Jennifer shows a constant concern about the residents’ well-being,” facility owner James McPeak said of their nomination of Turner. “As a result, she has diligently required all staff to undergo weekly testing and comply with the governor’s executive order and CDC guidelines, which have kept the facility COVID-free since June. Her obsession with disinfecting everything in the facility benefits the residents and the staff every day.”
Turner started at McPeak’s as a receptionist in 2003, underwent training to become a case manager and became qualified from the New York State Department of Health in 2006.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Turner hosted virtual in-service educational sessions on infection control and made sure McPeak’s was in compliance with visitation and staff testing guidelines. As a result, McPeak’s has remained COVID-free since June.
In September, during National Assisted Living Week, she was also honored by the Empire State Association for Assisted Living with the 2020 All-Star Staff Award. The award is given to those in the assisted living community who often accomplish the seemingly impossible or are always there when they are needed the most.
Turner earned her associate degree in business administration from Briarcliffe College and a bachelor’s degree in health care administration from Empire State College. She is a resident of Bay Shore.
“I believe in my obligation to provide nonclinical as well as clinical services to protect those within our health care facility, during this pandemic,” Turner said of the reasoning behind her hard work. “I have a huge passion for community services and find it not only gratifying but very much in demand. Advocating for our guests and staff has given me a purpose in life.”
The toughest part about maintaining a solid work ethic, she explained, is confronting the unknown and what will happen next. Every day, she said, there is something new to overcome.
Some of the most difficult pandemic-created challenges include: new regulations, increased cases, family members not being able to see their loved ones and explaining to the guests why they cannot see their relatives.
“Taking care of our elderly community during these hard times is significant; the elderly community is why we are all here today and I feel it’s the rest of the population’s duty to protect them,” Turner added. “In the end, while waiting for a return to normalcy, we will maintain our commitment and resilience through it all.”