Krystian Koniarz, a 25-year-old nurse in the intensive care unit at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital, was surprised on Thursday, May 12, with the hospital’s first-ever international Daisy Award during a Nurses Week celebration.
The Daisy Award recognizes the skillful and compassionate care nurses provide.
The award was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes by his family after he died in 1999 due to complications of an auto-immune disease. His family was so moved by the compassionate care Barnes received during his eight-week hospitalization that they wanted to do something to recognize the care nurses provide.
Currently, the award is given to nurses in the U.S. and 31 other countries and territories.
During the ceremony held outside of the hospital, located at 102-01 66th Rd. in Forest Hills, Koniarz received the award from his mother, Wioletta, who is a nurse practitioner at LIJ Hospital and inspired him to enter the healthcare field.
“I’m speechless and it’s a very surreal moment for my career,” Koniarz said. “I started my career and worked hard every single day trying to live up to my mom’s expectations. I would tell everyone that even if I’m half the nurse she is, then I have a successful career. It makes me happy to show her that her teachings and the long nights studying with me did not go wasted.”
Overcome with emotion, Wioletta congratulated her son on his accomplishment.
“I am extremely proud of him. This is just the beginning of his career and he’s come so far winning such a prestigious, uplifting award. Truly, I have no words. Nursing is the love of his life — he loves this profession so much that even when he says, ‘I’m a nurse,’ you can sense that pride,” Wioletta said. “I know that his achievements moving forward will be exceptional.”
In one of the many letters nominating Koniarz, a co-worker shared, “He helped me with a patient suffering with alcohol withdrawal. The patient was Polish speaking and uncomfortable using our translation services. Krystian [who speaks Polish] patiently translated for the patient and tried to keep him calm. He is a great team player.”
Before presenting a certificate to Koniarz, Tiffany Powell, chief nursing officer, described him as a “profound nurse who really touches everyone in the critical care unit.”
Following the ceremony award recognizing Koniarz and his colleagues for their outstanding work in the healthcare profession, LIJ Forest Hills Executive Director Lorraine Chambers Lewis reminded nurses to celebrate themselves and understand the power and influence they have on patients’ lives.
“It is nice to be acknowledged and that’s why we have Nurses Week because we do want to encourage folks. We do want to model behavior. We do want to set an example because there’s another generation [of nurses] coming up,” Lewis said. “I am really grateful for the culture that is here and the teamwork that we have and what we strive to do more. I encourage you to continue to set those examples of excellence and to push forward and keep the patient centered in the middle.”