More than 650 attendees gathered at the Grand Hyatt in midtown Manhattan on May 5 to honor 63 1199SEIU registered nurses (RNs) and RN managers during the 14th Annual Nurse of Distinction (NOD) Awards Gala. This event, also known as the Oscars for nurses, is the one night each year when 1199SEIU nurses put on their formal attire to attend the most significant celebration of nurses in New York. After a three-course meal and the awards ceremony, the attendees enjoyed dancing to a live band and taking photos with family and colleagues throughout the grand hotel ballroom.

This year’s event, which was held the day after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, was also a time to discuss the changes threatening healthcare delivery and the role nurses play in maintaining care quality in times of crisis. During a speech to attendees, Norma Amsterdam, Executive Vice President of the 1199SEIU RN Division, said that quality care for all patients must continue to be a priority. While acknowledging that any changes made to healthcare policy “will dictate how we move forward,” she added: “We took an oath and we must continue to give quality care.”

Maria Castaneda, Secretary-Treasurer for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, spoke about the impact of changes in healthcare on patients and healthcare workers. “As we are enjoying our night and celebrating nurses, we all know that there is a serious crisis in healthcare,” she said. “Our healthcare funding, access and affordability of care is under attack.” In times like these, Castaneda said, it is particularly important to celebrate the contribution nurses make to quality patient care.

In her acceptance speech, Nurse of Distinction in a Hospital Setting award winner Marjorie Cooke said: “We are all warriors. We show up to work every day to provide quality care to patients. We are all winners.” The ballroom erupted into a thunderous applause after Marcia Butler-Hurlington, a first runner-up for the NOD Hospital award, shared her feelings. “Nurses, you rock,” she said. We will unite in power and make a difference during this transitional healthcare time.”

See this year’s NOD winners here.

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