The Rockland County Legislature is celebrating National Nurses Week by recognizing the contributions of three local residents who have long worked as nurses and have also spent hours volunteering to better the community.
Legislator Aney Paul, who holds a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and has been a nurse for more than 30 years, presented Distinguished Service Awards to nurses Sara Ambatt Rochelle Kepes and Bianca Lubin. She was joined by Legislature Chairman Jay Hood Jr. and Legislator Toney Earl.
May is traditionally the month when nurses are recognized worldwide, in part because May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She professionalized nursing roles for women and is known as the founder of modern nursing.
“The efforts of Sara Ambatt, Rochelle Kepes and Bianca Lubin include selflessly caring for the sick throughout the pandemic, and their volunteer contributions range from conducting community influenza clinics to raising funds for local non profits assisting victims of domestic violence to mentoring would-be and novice nurses, and so much more,” Legislator Paul said. “These outstanding nurses contribute so much to so many, and we are proud and lucky that they call Rockland County home.”
Legislator Hood noted the important role of nurses.
“Nurses have always been vital in terms of taking care of us and those contributions were never so visible as they were during the pandemic,” Legislator Hood said. “Of course, their work stretches beyond the pandemic, and it’s an honor to recognize all nurses, and especially our honorees, for all they do.”
Legislator Earl said nurses held a special place with him because wife has been a nurse for decades.
“Nurses are so special and always focused on helping people in whatever way they can,” Legislator Earl said. “That’s why it’s no surprise that so many nurses, including our honorees, are so involved in the community as volunteers. I thank each of the honorees for all they do and recognize the efforts they put in and the sacrifices they make – all for the benefit of the community.”
Sara Ambatt is a practicing nurse practitioner working at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern. Originally from India, Ambatt began her nursing career after settling in the United States many years ago. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree, became a registered nurse and worked her way to earning her FNP-BC – Family Nurse Practitioner degree.
As a member of the nonprofit National Indian Nurse Practitioners Association of America, Ambatt distributed educational flyers, masks and hand sanitizer during the pandemic and volunteered as a vaccinator at the COVID clinic overseen by Good Samaritan Hospital at Rockland Community College. The former president of the local Indian Nurses’ Association, Ambatt has also conducted influenza vaccine clinics and coordinated weight loss programs at libraries, community centers and churches through Nyack Hospital; participated in health fairs to educate people about high blood pressure, diabetes and infection control through the nurse practitioners’ organization and even helped new nurses prepare for their nursing licensing exams.
Rochelle Kepes is a board-certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner who currently works for the state Office of Mental Health at Rockland Psychiatric Center in Orangeburg. She is also an adjunct associate professor at Hunter College, serves on the Board of Directors for Region 5 of the Nurse Practitioner Association-New York State, and is a member of the Community Health Education and Advocacy of Rockland (CHEAR) Team. Dr. Kepes has been trained and deployed by the Office of Mental Health to render Psychological First Aid in response to emergencies and disasters in collaboration with FEMA and Homeland Security.
In her NPA role as Community Outreach Committee Chair, she partnered with People to People to participate in programs such as Project Joy and Back to School with Dignity. She participated with Center for Safety and Change, and previously the Rockland Women’s Shelter, in various activities, including the annual Women’s Run to raise funds and awareness about domestic violence. She has also provided education to women at the shelter, such as parenting and bathing a newborn, and organized donations of books, food, and clothing to the Center. During COVID, Dr. Kepes participated with Nyack Mask Makers and other grass roots groups to sew masks and scrub caps to donate to critical areas in need in Rockland County. In collaboration with the CHEAR team, Dr. Kepes provided education through PANIC radio station, health centers, and health fairs.
Bianca Lubin is a registered nurse in both New York and New Jersey, currently working in pediatrics to provide care to patients between the ages of 3 and 21. As a member of the Haitian American Nurses Association of Hudson Valley, she helps educate the community through health fairs, blood donation drives and partnerships with other community organizations. Within HANA, she serves as the Chair of Marketing, creating flyers on health awareness and managing three social media accounts. She is also the Producer of the “Health & Wellness hosted by HANA Radio Show;” a weekly bilingual show on Radio Generation 2000, which focuses on educating its audience on all matters of physical and mental health.
Lubin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing and a Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology. This year, alongside seasoned nurses of HANA, Lubin is committed to nurturing the next generation of nurses through the Mentoring Committee, purposefully created to help high school students interested in a career in nursing.
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