Meet the 2017 President's Award Winners
Joan Davis, RN, is a true embodiment of the American Dream. She came to the United States from Jamaica in 1986 with a 9-year-old, two bags and $24. She quickly joined the ranks of the Army Reserves and took a job at Montefiore as a unit secretary, while pursuing her education to become a registered nurse. Joan started as an Emergency Room nurse, later becoming a staff nurse in Endoscopy. Still a member of our military, Lieutenant Colonel Davis has seen several tours of duty overseas. She serves her country, her patients and Montefiore with equal dedication.
HER COLLEAGUES DESCRIBE JOAN AS RELIABLE, KEENLY OBSERVANT, EXTRAORDINARILY DEVOTED TO HER PATIENTS AND ADEPT AT DELIVERING HIGH-QUALITY, COMPASSIONATE CARE.
From her traditional white dress and cap to her unwavering focus on patient care and safety, Joan embodies the quintessential “nurse’s nurse” in the tradition of Florence Nightingale. Her colleagues describe Joan as reliable, keenly observant, extraordinarily devoted to her patients and adept at delivering highquality, compassionate care. Joan is tough when she needs to be and gentle when that is what her patient needs. She receives high marks for empathy and kindness. Patients frequently ask for her if they return.
Joan inspires nurses and physicians alike, and they note her ability to rally them when morale is low on a stressful day, lifting their spirits with her smile and contagious energy. She willingly shares her wealth of experience and vast body of knowledge with newcomers, giving generously of herself while embodying the highest standards of nursing. Joan Davis’s consistent demonstration of our values—humanity, innovation, teamwork, diversity and equity—have made Montefiore a better place.
Have you met Montefiore’s resident philosopher and goodwill ambassador? A well-timed visit to the café located near the 210th Street entrance of the Moses Campus will introduce you to Elaine Gibson, immediately recognizable by the colorful floral pins that adorn her uniform, matching both her makeup and the signature daily words of inspiration affixed to her cash register. One recent message that resonated with a fellow associate was: “Worry: It does nothing to remove the sorrows of tomorrow, but removes the strength from today.”
SHE EXEMPLIFIES THE INTANGIBLE THINGS THAT MAKE MONTEFIORE A PLACE THAT HEALS THE HUMAN SPIRIT: EMPATHY, LOVE, RESPECT, SENSITIVITY, PROFESSIONALISM AND COURTESY.
She doesn’t just talk the talk, though. Elaine is known not only for her joyous smile and warm personality, but for her patience and willingness to help anyone needing a hand. She makes everyone feel welcome and that every request is entirely reasonable and appropriate. Her personality immediately draws people to her, be they patient or visitor, nurse, physician or associate.
Elaine’s official title is Cashier, and she has expanded her job description in ways that bring Montefiore’s values to life. Elaine does not provide direct patient care. Nor does she discover new, innovative ways to treat disease. She does much more. She exemplifies the intangible things that make Montefiore a place that heals the human spirit: empathy, love, respect, sensitivity, professionalism and courtesy. Elaine Gibson inspires by her words and actions, creating a positive impact that ripples across Montefiore.
It would be a challenge to overstate the affection and esteem his Montefiore colleagues have for Dr. Shalom Kalnicki. One described him as an angel in doctor’s clothing, reflecting the depth of his kindness, compassion and warmth. It is no surprise that the word “love” keeps popping up in discussions of Dr. Kalnicki. It is clear he loves the work, his patients and his colleagues—and they love him right back. Whether you’re a patient, friend, family member or colleague, Dr. Kalnicki will answer your call, no matter how full his calendar. It seems he literally makes time.
HE EPITOMIZES THE ESSENCE OF COLLEGIALITY AND PROFESSIONALISM IN INTERACTIONS, IS THOUGHTFUL AND WELCOMES ALL POINTS OF VIEW.
Known as a focused and knowledgeable leader, he understands how to move from vision to implementation. Dr. Kalnicki supports the growth of the system by making vital connections between people and inspiring them to act. He epitomizes the essence of collegiality and professionalism in interactions, is thoughtful and welcomes all points of view. As a mentor, Dr. Kalnicki guides and develops the careers of those around him, whether clinical, scientific or administrative, with commitment that is tangible and sustained.
Most of all, Dr. Kalnicki is recognized as a selfless healer. Putting the patient first, always, he sets the tone of how care should be delivered through his influence, example and leadership. He goes out of his way to facilitate whatever his patients and their families need, while taking the necessary time to ease their anxiety. In this and everything he does, Dr. Kalnicki personifies Montefiore’s mission to heal, teach and serve our community.
It’s been said that Leonard Prlesi, RN, shows the patients on 7 South so much love that they leave feeling as if they were cared for at home. Leo goes out of his way for his patients to make their hospital stay a little more comfortable. Thanks to his quiet generosity, a cup of coffee, a newspaper or a bottle of water appears; cab fare is given to an anxious patient or a family member too exhausted for the bus; TV rental is arranged for a needy patient, a pair of shoes for another. Leo will not pass a patient in the hall without asking if they need anything, nor has he ever been heard to say that a patient in need of care was not his. Patients come first for Leo, who goes above and beyond to ensure that each is treated fairly.
LEO’S LEADERSHIP BEGINS WITH OPTIMISM AND ENDS WITH SOLUTIONS REACHED THROUGH PROACTIVE, POSITIVE COLLABORATION.
Leo’s leadership begins with optimism and ends with solutions reached through proactive, positive collaboration. A natural team player, he treats everyone with respect and courtesy. Leo defuses tense situations with his attentive ear and calm, gentle demeanor, and the word “complain” has no place in his vocabulary. His work ethic is legendary, and he inspires others by setting expectations for himself just a little bit higher and then striving to meet them. Colleagues describe Leonard Prlesi as the core of 7 South, where they say, “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!” According to his peers, Leo makes the dream work every day, for every person he encounters.
Thomas Wilhelm, LMSW, is a champion for dialysis patients at the Wakefield Campus. Tom supports those who require long-term dialysis care to sustain their lives, helping them navigate a complex system to deal with multiple challenges to their physical and mental health. He serves as an ally and loyal friend in their difficult journey, aligning them with the best resources available.
HE FOCUSES ON DEVELOPING SOLID RELATIONSHIPS; EMBRACING THE HUMANITY OF EVERY PATIENT, WORKING CLOSELY WITH THE ONES MOST TROUBLED.
Tom skillfully deals with each patient’s needs, whether it be scheduling appointments, transportation or family meetings to enhance treatment compliance, or resolving health insurance issues and grievances. He focuses on developing solid relationships; embracing the humanity of every patient, working closely with the ones most troubled, he makes each one feel they are a beloved member of an extended family. He celebrates milestones with them, and he mourns them when they pass. This devotion and commitment to his patients is an inspiration to Tom’s colleagues, who credit him with changing the history of the unit.
His natural kindness and generosity extend to all who work with him, across departments and functions. His colleagues admire his unwavering commitment to a life of service, which extends to his personal life. In addition to volunteering to assist in the settlement of refugee families, he regularly provides counseling and spiritual direction for inmates at the Bedford Hills Maximum Security Women’s Prison. Reaching deep into the hearts of his patients, colleagues and members of his community, Thomas Wilhelm brings Montefiore’s values to life each day.