The future of healthcare in Queens was on full display at Plaza College in Forest Hills Friday where elected leaders gathered with school officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new nursing program.
Plaza’s 16-month Bachelor of Science in Nursing is designed as an upper-division program whereby students will apply 60 previously earned credits to 60 core nursing credits to complete the B.S. degree.
“It is not every day that we cut the ribbon on a new initiative, one as significant as this,” Plaza College Provost Chad Callahan said. “And it began in 1916 with our founders with a vision for bringing career preparation to communities, particularly to women, during the onset of American involvement in World War I, and 106 year later, we have become quite a bit more complicated and sophisticated. I think our founders would agree that we’re on the right track.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards addressed the participants in the new program.
“One of the things I love about what I see on the stage is diversity, the representation of our borough, because we are the most diverse county in the world, something we tout and celebrate,” Richards said. “It’s great that students in Queens no longer have to travel to other boroughs for a program like this. It is now in our backyard. This is more than just about simply a ribbon-cutting; it’s about upward mobility, you know, the jobs of the future, giving our communities, communities of color and opportunity a pathway into the middle class. And that’s what you’re preparing. That’s what Plaza College is doing today.”
The nursing program is a further sign that the Queens comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic is well underway.
“You are doing something selfless today by going into the field of health care because our frontline workers, may we not forget as the city and state opens up that it is because our frontline workers put their lives at risk to ensure that our communities could bounce back,” Richards said. “I couldn’t think of a more important time to be opening a school of nursing. Think about what we just went through. Over 10,000 lives lost right here across this county. May we not forget the sounds of those ambulances right outside of Elmhurst Hospital.”
Helen Arteaga Landaverde, the CEO of Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst, was the keynote speaker at the ribbon-cutting.
“Where does the health care passion begin? Sometimes it begins at a moment of sadness. When a loved one passes on and you feel helpless,” Landaverde said. “Sometimes it comes from a moment of happiness when you see your children being born or sometimes it comes at a moment of being courageous, at what we just went through during the pandemic. These individuals sitting right next to me, they decided to be courageous and give their time and passion and tears and sweat because those nursing books are hard and they decided I’m going to be courageous and I’m going to give back and have an impact.”
Landaverde added that with the latest technology that Plaza College is offering in the program, the students will be well-prepared to begin their career in public service at Elmhurst Hospital. Nursing program leader Dr. Francine Laterza said it was fitting the ribbon-cutting was held on Nurses Day, while the National League of Nurses declared 2022 the year of the nurse educators.
“Although Plaza College’s nursing program offers all these wonderful resources and opportunities, you the students are what makes this program special,” Laterza said. “I truly believe you will all set a new standard of excellence for nursing and I look forward to your future contributions to the profession.”
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.