January 28, 2020

Red Sox Nurse Night, Nurse Hero Awards 2019

Red Sox Nurse Night, Nurse Hero Awards 2019

Cover image courtesy of Boston Medical Center Nursing

Get Social 

Check out all the FUN from 2019! 

We proudly honored our top 10 Red Sox Nurse Heroes on the field during the pre-game ceremony. 

  • Rita Banks
  • Rebecca Love
  • Billy Nguyen
  • Theresa O'Connor
  • Robert Williams
  • Regina Cagne
  • Michael LaFerney
  • Kristyna Coletti
  • Julie Swaine
  • Heather Reilly

Nurse Heroes Julie Swaine and Heather Reilly spray painted the pitcher's mound! 

Nurse hero, Rita Banks, threw the ceremonial first pitch! Rita was voted as the nurse to throw the first pitch through an online voting poll. What an amazing memory! 


Nurse Blake was our special guest! 

Image courtesy of Hurley Event Photography 

Image courtesy of Hurley Event Photography 

It was an amazing Nurse Night with nurses traveling from all over New England - Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and even New York to join in on the festivities!

They arrived in groups, decked out in their Red Sox gear and homemade nurse t-shirts while displaying their creative Nurse Night signs!

Thanks to all the nurses who submitted photos to our Facebook event page and congrats to the winners of our photo contest - Wendy, Kim, and Julie!

Thank you to all the nurses who came out to the game and made this such an unforgettable night!

Special thanks to Boston Medical Center for the beautiful photos. 


While we believe all nurses are heroes, we'd like to congratulate the following nurses who were honored on the field during Red Sox Nurse Night 2019!

These 10 nurses were nominated by their patients, peers and loved ones for their commitment to the nursing profession and humanity. 

Rita Banks, RN

First Pitch Winner!

An emergency department RN for many years, Banks began her career as the first African American female paramedic registered in Massachusetts. She is described as someone who will go to great lengths to extend a helping hand to all of her co-workers and be a warm soul to talk to when times are tough. Just recently, Rita stopped at the scene of a car accident while driving her own vehicle to help the person involved in the accident. Rita contacted the young patient’s mother at the to let her know that her daughter would be fine. A few days later the patient’s mother took to social media to find Rita and thank her for her kindness.  

A tireless employee, Banks works constantly at many jobs and still manages to bring a smile to everyone’s face through laughter. “Rita is the type of nurse everyone can learn a thing or two from,” her nominator says. “Rita would literally give the shirt off her back for everyone and is the true definition of a compassionate RN.”

Rebecca Love, MSN, RN, FIEL

Not every nurse can say that they have delivered a TEDx talk that led to the first nurse ever to be featured on Ted.com, but Rebecca Love is one such nurse. With over 15 years of experience in nursing, Rebecca is also an educator, entrepreneur and inventor, and a “tireless advocate for nurses globally”.  She has worked tirelessly to redefine what is possible for the nursing profession by building the first program in the country to support, advance and recognize nurses as innovators in healthcare, a conversation that is redefining what is possible in nursing, according to her nominator(s), which just so happens to be the entire Firstmatrix Health team.

Rebecca is known as a person with “boundless energy and enthusiasm” and connects her efforts with other people who are doing good. Her work with non-profit advocacy including GloGoodFoundation and Lenny Kravitz's & Jonathine Levine’s non-profit group in the Bahamas, to name a few. In addition, Rebecca co-founded the non-profit Sonsiel: Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders that work to advance nurses to the forefront of healthcare innovation and transformation.  

While her TEDx talk on nurses and the history and current challenges and opportunities is impressive, Love’s dedication to helping other nurses transform healthcare through innovation and “goal for more nurses to have a seat at the table” has led to a revolutionary movement that started when she co-founded, alongside Dr. Nancy Hanrahan, the first-ever program of Nurse Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Northeastern University, the first Nurse Hackathon and the founding of Sonsiel. 

“There are a lot of nurses that deserve this award and all nurses deserve a lot more recognition than they get,” her team notes “and it’s been Rebecca’s dedication to elevating all nurses in their innovation journey that is fundamentally redefining the profession of nursing - her dedication to her nursing colleagues as leaders of healthcare innovation, has started a conversation that before never existed in healthcare, and is positively transforming the future of nursing and healthcare for all”.

Billy Nguyen, BSN, RN 

Nominated by the wife of a grateful patient that he cared for, Billy is described as the type of nurse who didn’t leave his patient’s side. 

“It went so far beyond nursing care which was exemplary,” his nominator notes. “Billy took care of all of us. He cheered us on, let us cry, spoke to us honestly about every aspect of [my husband] Steve’s recovery but most importantly, he treated Steve like a human being, not a patient, and encouraged him to try harder, work harder, keep pushing no matter how hard it was. CNA's weren't called in to do the ‘dirty jobs.’ If Billy was there, Billy did it. If it was obvious I was struggling with something, Billy took the time to talk to me and listen, calm my fears and just let me cry.”

After 262 days in the hospital, when his patient was finally able to go home in August of 2018 and Billy wasn't working that day, he still made time to Spaulding with balloons and love to see the husband-wife team off. Incredibly Billy has even made time to continue to visit them at their home, a full hour away from Boston, and call them on the phone with plenty of encouragement and support. 

“Technically, Billy is an excellent nurse,” his nominator describes. “Thorough, efficient, skilled, everything you would want your nurse caring for your loved one to be. But it goes so far beyond that. So far. He cared for ALL of us, he supported ALL of us, he took care of me when I was going through the worst experience of my life and struggling to navigate the medical complexities, make decisions about so many things I had no knowledge of, and mourning the loss of my husband as he had been before 11/20/17 and trying to come to terms with what our new life would be like.” 

She adds that the simple fact that Billy is still with them, 7 months after discharge from Spaulding is proof of what being a nurse-hero is all about. “Going beyond the technicalities of nursing and caring for your patient and his family at the worst time of their lives, not just for a few days but for months,” she says. “Steve is our hero with his daily struggle to make the smallest steps of progress and Billy is our hero because he kept us strong and went above and beyond to be there for us and continues to do so.” 

Billy currently works at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on the Neurosciences Intermediate unit.

Theresa O’Connor, RN

A true veteran nurse, O’Connor has been a proud NICU nurse since 1975—she plans to retire this year after 44 years of service—and is described as a true hero by her coworkers. “There is no figure more present and central in our NICU than Terry O’Connor,” her nominator notes. “It would be hard for me to think of something that happens in our unit that Terry has not been responsible for.”

From the large efforts, such as spearheading the hospital’s fundraising walk with the March of Dimes, organizing Toys for Tots drives every year to the smaller, such as always decorating the unit for holidays and Boston sporting celebrations, planning the annual holiday party, making the nurses’ schedules for over 40 years (OK, maybe that should be in the “large” category) and managing the staff “sunshine fund,” this nurse has truly done it all. 

Along with initiating the NICU holiday card project, which highlights a baby who has stayed the longest in the NICU every year, she coordinates donations for blankets and clothing and headed the Bereavement Committee. Coworkers say her greatest legacy, however, will be the NICU reunion, held every year since she began it 44 years ago. 

“The list of things she does could go on and on but if I continued to talk about ‘things then I may never get to talk about something even bigger,” her nominator notes. “While we will surely miss all of the ‘things’ Terry does for our unit, we will be pained at the loss of the person she is to each of us. I myself look up to her with such admiration for the example she sets for all of us. I am not sure I could ever be as selfless as her, but I certainly aspire to try. She is our coworker, our friend, our surrogate mother and someone whose shoes will never be filled. We are eternally grateful for all she has given to us and our patients and we would be so thrilled to honor her on a stage as grand as Fenway Park during Nurse’s Night.”

Captain Robert Williams, RN, CEN

Army Nurse Corp retired 

When Captain Williams trained to become a nurse, he never could have foreseen that his second day on the job would be September 11th, but it was. As a serviceman in the Coast Guard and later, an Officer in the United Army Nursing Corp, Williams’ dedication to his county was shown that day, and beyond, with his many service duties including working as an army nurse in Iraq, on a medical relief mission to Guatemala, to the Haitian Disaster, and as the Commander of the 399th Combat Support Hospital Alpha Company.

Williams rose up to the Rank of Captain and has recently put in his retirement paperwork after 23 years of service. In addition to his service career, Williams has also been a certified Emergency Room nurse since 2004 and currently is working as a Clinical Nurse Leader at Lowell General Hospital Emergency Department in Lowell. He also works tirelessly to enhance the skill set and rescue capabilities of others through being a certified instructor in Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. A proud new father to his eight-month-old daughter, his nominator says he has “truly spent his life in the service of others.”

Robert was nominated by his mother who he says inspired him to become a nurse, “my mom is a special woman who I look up to and has shown me what a true nurse is, I just followed in her footsteps. 

Speaking about his nursing career Robert says,  “The main thing about being a nurse is treating others the way you would treat yourself or your family. In my military career and nursing career, I have always just followed my heart.  Whether that be to a busy Emergency Room, a Forward Operating Base in Iraq, or to healing the affected in Haiti. The one thing nursing grants us is compassion to heal others in their worst crisis, and a ray of hope that someone cares.”

Regina Gagne, RN 

Regina Gagne, known as “Gina,” is a survivor of the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, where she was volunteering, as she did every year, in the med tent. Despite the trauma and tragedies, she witnessed that day, she tendered to many needs of the injured and emotionally distraught patients and family members who were impacted—then turned around and volunteered again. This year marked her 10th year volunteering at the Boston Marathon. 

An RN at the Lawrence General Hospital, Lawrence, Mass, Gina has been a nurse for 17 years and now works in what is considered to be one of the busiest ERs in Massachusetts, caring for many poor and homeless individuals as well. “This takes a certain kind of nurse to act quickly and decisively,” her nominator says. But perhaps one of the most important things you need to know about Gina is that she is a devoted Red Sox fan, who attends as many games as she can and even goes to spring training batting practice. “Gina has an extensive collection of autographed balls bats and jersey,” her nominator adds. “She even has a tattoo of the ball stitching around her wrist!” #enoughsaid 

Michael LaFerney, RN, PMHCNS, BC

U/S Air Force veteran - medical corpsman E-4 1973-1977

U.S Army Reserve Captain 66C psychiatric nurse 1982-1996

Listing all of Michael C.LaFerney, APRN, accomplishments in mental health innovation is a struggle—simply because there are so many and they are nothing short of amazing. He has developed multiple programs and has several noteworthy career highlights including, 

  • He helped develop the Dorn Bldg. on the grounds of Taunton State Hospital, as one of the first transitional residential houses in the U.S., followed by a national study on the house.
  • He also co-developed a systematic chart review process to evaluate past antipsychotic response to avoid using ineffective medication again, authored a paper on ways to reduce recidivism rates in managed care partial hospitalization patients, and developed innovative programming for older adults. 
  • In the realm of honors, he won both the Innovative programming award and advocacy awards from the American Association of Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare in 1996 and 1998. 
  • He has focused on the mental health needs of older adults in the past few years and has written several papers using evidence-based research to challenge and improve mental health treatment. 
  • Michael has advocated for “orphan diseases” and has written about the effect of depression in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. He has written about how nurses sometimes mistake emotional reasoning from empathy and the effect this has on the healthcare system in terms of time, money, and patient treatment. 
  • Michael also holds a personal development certificate from FEMA and is a leader in Ecopsychology. 

Nowadays Michael is focusing on teaching social psychology principles to nurses to improve care and compliance in treatment and rehabilitation. He has also written several articles focusing on the field of nursing.  

Kristyna Coletti, RN, Travel Nurse

“Nurse Nina” is currently a travel nurse at Beth Israel Deaconess medical center and doesn’t confine her nursing work to just her 12 + hour shifts. Instead, according to her nominator, she “has totally dedicated herself to her patients and others that need her skills on and off the clock.” 

Her nominator described a recent situation when after a long shift at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Kristyna noticed an older gentleman struggling down the stairs into the Subway. She stopped and watched him ensure he was capable of carrying on. The older gentleman was so exhausted during the descent that he had to sit on the stairs. “While hundreds of other commuters passed by, Nina stopped to aid the old man, knowing she would miss her train home and add an extra two hours to her commute,” her nominator says. And when the gentleman became too disoriented to carry on alone, Nina rode with him to his final destination, missing her own trains, until she ensured he was reunited with his wife. 

“Kristyna's demeanor outside her duties, after a 12-hour shift shows her true desire to care for others and true concern for the people around her,” her nominator sums up. “Kristyna has earned this recognition and is the quality of a person which is a mentor figure to her coworkers, friends, and family. I could not think of another person who is more deserving.” 

Julie Swain, RN

Fondly referred to as the "smother-mother" of her unit, Swain’s nominator calls her “easily the kindest and hardest working RN at Boston Medical Center.” Red Sox super fan Swain received the DAISY award in 2018  the Edwin F Hirsch award. She was also recognized in the Boston Globe in 2018 for her work with the VIAP Program at BMC, where she builds relationships with trauma patients/victims of violence and provides them home care when insurance doesn’t cover a home visit by a local agency, the VIAP continues care even after discharge. 

“She always goes above and beyond, even in the smallest of ways by bringing in personal shampoo/conditioner for patients with extended stays,” her nominator adds. “Julie also loves the Sox and would never expect this!”

Heather Reilly, BSN, RN

Known as an outstanding mother and critical care nurse at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth MA, Reilly is also is surviving metastatic breast cancer, all while caring for two sons alone, after losing her husband. Heather initially endured both chemotherapy and a double mastectomy in her fight against breast cancer, but a few months ago, a friend noticed that Reilly wasn’t able to keep up with her usual routine at the gym--and further testing revealed metastatic disease to her lung.

Now undergoing state-of-the-art treatment at Dana Farber, Reilly’s nominator says she continues to devote what energy she can to care for others. Somehow, in the midst of her treatment, while supporting her boys, she continues to work full-time and provide excellent care to her critically ill patients. “She comes to work each day, for 12-hour shifts, in a cheerful mood and does not look for special treatment,” her nominator describes. “I can [hear] her laugh across the nurse's station, and it makes me smile. She offers to stay late and finds it necessary to pick up extra shifts to stay ahead of her mounting medical bills. Yet, she never complains. Heather continues to be a role model to her peers, an advocate for her patients, and a hero to her friends. She is truly an All-Star Nurse Hero, who would never ask for any recognition. She only continues to live life fully and encourages us all to enjoy each day as she does.”

Go to the top of page