Downtown Nurse Bridges Health Care and Community

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Downtown OTTY Awards, Special Sections.


Kit Yuen is a gem in the nursing staff at Downtown Hospital

By John Friia

In every hospital, there are always a few staff members who stand out to both their colleagues and to patients. They’re the ones who are clearly motivated by making their patients’ lives better. At Downtown Hospital, one of those people is Kit Yuen.

Sparked by the desire to help people, Kit Yuen, R.N., M.S.N., has been working in the nursing field for the past 24 years. Yuen serves as director of maternal care and the director of inpatient dialysis at Downtown Hospital, located on William Street. Her responsibilities include ensuring that all the equipment functions properly on a daily basis, in addition to dealing with administrative duties. For a six-month period, this past April through October, she was also the interim chief of nursing, overseeing the staff of nurses in the hospital.

“I love to help people and love working in the maternity ward,” Yuen said. There’s a special feeling that accompanies helping with the delivery of a newborn, bringing love and life into the world, she said.

After responding to a job listing for a bilingual educator at Downtown Hospital in 1998, Yuen has come to love the community. Yuen explained that 80 percent of the population in the vibrant area is of Chinese ancestry, and she saw an opportunity to put her language skills and cultural background to use, as well as her medical expertise. “I speak Cantonese and Mandarin,” she said. “I like to help people through difficult times and be with them through good times.”

She stayed at the hospital for three years as an educator, then left after 9/11 for another job opportunity. In 2005, she returned to Downtown Hospital as the director of maternal care, a position that she has held for the past seven years.

“There is something about the hospital and the community that made me come back,” Yuen said.
According to Downtown Hospital records, there are on average 3,000 births a year in their maternity unit. That number temporarily spiked, however, since Hurricane Sandy struck the city, causing both NYU-Langone and Bellevue Hospital to close for short periods of time due to storm damage. Those closures led to a dramatic increase in births at Downtown Hospital, and recently Yuen has been managing an extremely busy hospital floor.

“At the end of the day, I make sure everything has been done properly and everyone is safe. I make sure I did my job in the best way for my staff and patients,” Yuen said. She explained that her main goal is for everyone to have a pleasant stay while in the hospital and to ensure that the staff is as helpful as possible.

Anthony Ercolano, manager of special programs at Downtown Hospital, nominated Yuen for the award and said that her commitment is evident in her constant presence in the hospital.

“Because she is also a downtown resident, she is always present for her colleagues and for our patients’ families. Professionally, she has not hesitated to accept additional responsibilities, whether it has been to serve as interim chief nursing officer during our recent leadership search or to assist in developing the policy for our hospital’s new Wellness & Prevention Center,” he said.

“As a neighbor, she is an influential presence in Lower Manhattan. Because of her strong nursing and executive skills, as well as her devotion to the Lower Manhattan community, we are proud to nominate Ms. Kit Yuen as a worthy candidate for the OTTY Award,” Ercolano said.

Yuen said that she is extremely honored and shocked to receive the award and is thankful toward her peers for the nomination. “I accept this award not just on my behalf, but as a group,” she said. “It takes a village to run Downtown, not just one person.”

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