ALBANY -- Some light was shone on the life of an Albany cardiology team leader as she was named the 2013 Nurse of the Year at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital on Thursday afternoon.
After recognition of all 41 nominees, Patricia Kennedy was revealed to be the top honoree among her peers, who on a daily basis have the task of giving patients and their families hope while maintaining a professional demeanor.
The award had particular significance to Kennedy, who has a sister on the seventh floor of the hospital who is terminally ill.
"It's just unreal," she said. "It's an honor. What's going on in my life right now, to go down and then go to a high like that. ... When I heard my name called, I was speechless."
With some of her other family members present, Kennedy said the first thing she intended to do after the awards presentation was to try to wake up her sister to share the moment while saying her good-byes.
"To have this good news to take upstairs, it's good," she said. "I thank all my peers for thinking so much of me."
Each unit in the hospital comes together on an annual basis and turns in nominations for Nurse of the Year from their respective units. From that pool, an overall winner is chosen.
Kennedy has been with Phoebe for seven years.
This Nurse of the Year celebration coincided with the hospital's May summit, and falls right after National Nurses Week -- which is recognized annually from May 6-12.
May 6 is National Nurses Day, and May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is considered to be the founder of modern day nursing.
"We are still taking Florence's work forward, and I hope she is looking down on us today," said Tracy Morgan, vice president of women's and children's services at Phoebe. "Sometimes we need to tell ourselves we are doing a great job.
"We talk about it (nursing) as a thankless job, but I don't think the bedside nurses see it that way."
Of the 41 nominees, 39 were women and two were men. Five represented Phoebe North Campus, and there were two nominees each from the Willson Hospice House and the Phoebe Digestive Disease Center.
All Phoebe employees were eligible to make nominations. Those eligible were registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or advanced practice nurses in good standing as well as any bedside nurse who primarily interacts with patients.