South Brooklyn Health honors the ‘profound impact’ of its nurses during National Nurses Month

nyc health + hospitals/south brooklyn health nurses week
NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health will celebrate its nurses for National Nurses Month.
Photo courtesy of NYC Health+Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health

Wilfredo M. Yap Jr., deputy chief nursing officer at NYC Health+Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health, spends his days overseeing nursing operations all over the hospital.

Yap’s job — at least in part — is to make sure the hundreds of nurses at South Brooklyn Health are complying with regulatory and facility standards and providing the best possible care for their patients. He meets with nurses and managers, talks with patients, and leads part of the medical-surgical area. 

But Yap, who has a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and doctorate degree with a focus in Nursing Leadership, didn’t always know he wanted to be a nurse, let alone a head nurse.

headshot of health+hospitals nurse
Wilfredo M. Yap Jr. decided to become a nurse during a physical therapy training program. Photo courtesy of NYC Health+Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health

He was working in a cardiac rehabilitation center, nearly finished with a physical therapy program, when he was asked to work alongside a nurse to monitor patients during their exercises.

“That interaction with that nurse … actually convinced me to reroute my healthcare career into nursing, as it has more autonomy,” Yap said. “It has a lot more specialties that you can go into.”

After a one-year accelerated nursing program, Yap was recruited to work as a fellow in a Level II trauma center in New Jersey. There, he eventually became a charge nurse and a union representative. 

As a trauma program manager, he applied for federal grant funding for a new program — and ultimately received around $100,000 to buy car seats and helmets for underserved communities in Jersey City, he said. The hospital worked with local police and fire departments to distribute the equipment and educate the community about trauma and head injuries.

He kept climbing the ladder in nursing leadership and was hired as Deputy Chief Nursing Officer at South Brooklyn Health. Though Yap doesn’t see patients day-to-day, he said a leadership position allows him to have more impact on the patient experience.

“It’s the track that I chose because I can certainly look at it from a bird’s eye view, from a bigger perspective, what the nursing practice looks like and how we can better our practice in order to provide the best possible care for our patients,” he said. “There’s a lot of impact I can affect from this position.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic drove home for Yap that leading a team is “exactly what I wanted to do,” he said. It also taught him a lot about the importance of clear communication in nursing.

“Communication is always key, and we learned that in healthcare in general, the number one reason why patients suffer any kind of harm in any kind of organization is because of lack of communication or miscommunication,” Yap said. 

south brooklyn health nurse at desk
South Brooklyn Health nurse Veronika Orlova at a nurses’ station. The COVID-19 pandemic marked a particularly difficult time for nurses.File photo courtesy of Isaiah McClain

He’s still working to improve his own communication and communication among the team, he said — ensuring that both nurses and patients fully understand the information they’re receiving and passing along. 

As Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, Yap is also partially responsible for making sure the nurses at South Brooklyn Health are supported and appreciated during National Nurses Month each May.

Everyone from staff nurses to the Chief Nursing Officer will be celebrated during the month, Yap said, especially during National Nurses+ Week from May 6-12. The hospital is planning awards ceremonies, an ice cream social, wellness events, and professional development events. 

“There’s just a huge focus on ensuring that our nurses’ well-being are being taken into consideration in order for them to practice and deliver the care that we expect them to do,” Yap said. “There’s a lot of work that CNO really envisioned in promoting a positive practice environment, or a healthy working environment.”

That can be as simple as having rounds to touch base with staff members and ensuring they’re all part of the shared decision-making process at South Brooklyn Health, he said. In 2022, the hospital received a “Pathway to Excellence” award from the American Nurses Credentialing Center in recognition of their commitment to creating a healthy work environment for nurses. 

The theme for this year’s National Nurses’ Week is “Nurses Make a Difference,” Yap said, and the hospital wanted to highlight the “profound impact our nurses have, not only on the patients, their peers, their colleagues, but also the community and the overall healthcare system of NYC Health + Hospitals.”

That means going beyond making nurses feel appreciated just for a week, he said, and making sure they acknowledge “the everyday commitment that they come in with at work, and their dedication in adapting to any new treatments and technologies that we may have and still having a smile on their faces and putting in the hard work and the dedication and compassion to our patients.”