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50-year employee, other milestone staff, to be honored by UHS

November 14, 2018

Maria-Leahy.jpgUHS staff nurse Maria Leahy, RN, will receive her 50-year pin at an awards dinner Friday evening in Binghamton.

Right, that’s 50, as in five-zero, as in half a century. She started working at UHS’ hospitals in 1968, then semi-retired in 2006 and kept working on a limited basis. 

Nursing has changed a lot since she entered the profession more than five decades ago, but, to her, one fact remains constant: It’s all about the patient. 

“The most important knowledge for a nurse doesn’t come from a textbook or a computer,” she said. “It comes from the human connection. Seeing the patient as a person is all-important.”

On Friday evening, Nov. 16, Ms. Leahy will be among 236 milestone employees to receive service anniversary pins at the annual UHS Service Awards Dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.

And while 10 of those will get 45-year pins, Ms. Leahy will be the only member of the team honored for a half-century of service. 

Eighty newly minted retirees also will be recognized at the event in the hotel’s grand ballroom.

Of Ukrainian heritage and born in Germany, Ms. Leahy immigrated to the United States as a baby with her refugee family. 

She grew up in Johnson City, graduated from the Binghamton General Hospital School of Nursing and began her career in the Maternity Department at UHS Wilson Medical Center.  She and her husband Michael raised two daughters and have four grandchildren.

After doing some cross-training in alcoholism and chemical dependency treatment nursing, Ms. Leahy decided to transfer to New Horizons at UHS Binghamton General Hospital in 2001. She semi-retired in 2006, but continues per diem, working four or five days a month.

Her love for nursing comes through in her quiet description of the changes she has seen and the ongoing powerful role of the profession in the lives of individuals. 

She said that in Maternity, she most enjoyed watching the joy on the faces of mothers and fathers in the Nursery when they were presented with their new babies. 

In dependency treatment nursing, she gains satisfaction from knowing that the care people receive often does produce a turnaround. “Lives do change for the better here,” she said. “You always hope you are having a small part in making that happen.”

Ms. Leahy’s supervisor, Ellie Briggs, RN, a New Horizons nurse manager at UHS Binghamton General, describes Ms. Leahy as someone with a true commitment to the many facets of nursing. 

“She is very quiet and busy behind the scenes, doing her job with a real passion for nursing,” Ms. Briggs said. “Her goal is to always provide good, respectful care to her patients.”