From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
January 2009 Edition
Penny Connolly, RN and an MNA member at Caritas Carney Hospital, recently received the President’s Award at the hospital’s 24th Annual Awards Dinner at the Seaport Hotel in Boston.
The President’s Award was presented to Connolly for her compassion, accountability, respect and excellence in service to Caritas Carney Hospital. Since 1969, she has been involved with Carney. She began her career at the hospital as a high school student where she worked as a ward clerk and a nursing assistant. After completing her nursing degree at Boston City Hospital School of Nursing, she worked at Carney and then moved to Boston City Hospital. After five years, she returned to Carney where she has been an integral part of the hospital’s nursing team ever since.
Connolly currently serves as a clinical resource nurse where she facilitates the admission process of many patients who are in the emergency department. In this role, she is the person who becomes the patient’s guide to moving from the busy ER to their inpatient room. Connolly also serves as a member of the hospital’s ethics committee and nurse practice council.
In 2008 however, Connolly’s work for Carney expanded beyond the walls of the hospital. She was instrumental member of a group called “The Coalition to Strengthen Carney Hospital” which was formed to highlight the issues that the hospital faced, including the facility’s proposed closure. She made numerous public appearances at groups around Dorchester to garner support for the hospital.
“The nurses at Carney know the value this hospital brings to the care of our patients. Because we are a community hospital and because the majority of our nurses have been practicing here for decades, we know our patients—particularly those with chronic conditions. You are not just a number to us at Carney, you are a neighbor. You are like family,” Connolly said recently. “When you consider the services Carney provides, the population we care for and the broader impact we have in propping up an already fragile hospital system in the state, the loss of Carney would be devastating—not only for Dorchester, but for the entire health care system.”
Ultimately the efforts of Connolly and her fellow advocacy group members paid off. In May of 2008, Ralph de la Torre—the new Caritas CEO—announced at a community meeting that Carney would stay open.
Several local community leaders and state legislators attended the awards ceremony, including Rep. Marty Walsh, Rep. Linda Dorcena-Forry and Boston City Councilor Maureen Feeney.