Cooper Nurse Joins Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico

Harriet Itoka, HPAE Local 5185 at CarePoint HealthBayonne Medical Center and Joan Davis, HPAE Local 5118 at Cooper University Health Care ready to join their union sisters and brothers headed to Puerto Rico.

Harriet Itoka, HPAE Local 5185 at CarePoint Health Bayonne Medical Center and Joan Davis, HPAE Local 5118 at Cooper University Health Care, ready to join their union sisters and brothers headed to Puerto Rico. Photo credit and caption: Health Professionals & Allied Employees via Facebook.

When Cooper University Health Care nurse Joan Davis, RN, saw a request for volunteers to help in disaster relief in Puerto Rico, she knew in her heart she had to answer the call.  It was the weekend of September 30 that Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE – the union that presents Cooper’s nurses) put out a notice that they were participating with and AFL/CIO-sponsored effort to bring supplies and volunteers to the ravaged island nation.

Joan, an 11-year Cooper employee who works on Roberts Pavilion 9, responded almost immediately. “Seeing all the devastating images on TV, I just felt called. People were fighting for just the most basic life needs, and I knew I could help,” she said. “I mentioned it to my husband and he said, ‘why are you asking me? You need to follow your heart’.”

So with her family’s blessing and only a few days of planning and making arrangements with her supervisor and Cooper’s nursing leadership, Joan joined approximately 300 volunteers from across the nation who took off from Newark International Airport on October 4.

While many of the other volunteers – pilots, mechanics, flight attendants and other union workers from across the country – will assist with general disaster relief, the 50+ registered nurses who volunteered will focus on immediate medical needs in local hospitals, nursing homes, and other sites based on immediate need for island residents.  For the next two weeks, Joan will be helping to get the island’s damaged health care system back on more stable footing and providing direct relief to those in need.

“I don’t know what I will encounter there, but I know it will be all worthwhile,” said Joan. Cooper also partnered with this AFL-CIO effort to send supplies as part of the relief effort.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Joan,” said Stephanie D. Conners, MBA, BSN, NEA-BC, Cooper’s Senior Executive Vice President, Hospital Chief Operating Officer and System Chief Nursing Officer. “Joan embodies the professionalism, dedication and compassion of all Cooper nurses.  We are honored that she is representing Cooper in this way.”

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