|Rosemary Hoffmann, RNC.|
When Rosemary Hoffmann, RNC, saw that one of her new student nurses seemed a bit lost on her first day at Queens Hospital Center many years ago, she assured the new nurse that nursing is less about what you know, and more about relating to people and showing that you care. And although Hoffmann’s first day as an obstetrics nurse at Queens Hospital Center was 46 years ago, she remembered well what it is like to be a beginner.
Karen Lockworth, the new nursed trained by Hoffmann, recalled how Hoffmann taught her to help women manage labor pain, showing her how to position the patient, rub her back, guide breathing exercises, and provide comfort. “Most important,” Lockworth said, “she taught me what it means to be a nurse.”
In her 46 years as a nurse at Elmhurst Hospital Center and Queens Hospital Center, Hoffmann has mentored generations of nurses. “She treated me like I was her own daughter,” Lockworth said. Indeed, Hoffmann says she thinks of all the nurses she has mentored over more than four decades as her daughters and takes pleasure in their success. Lockworth is now Director of Nursing in the Women’s and Children’s Division at Elmhurst, which makes her Hoffmann’s boss.
“I am very proud of her,” Hoffmann said.
On May 17, at Elmhurst Hospital Center’s 180th Anniversary Gala, the 65-year-old Hoffmann will be one of several professionals honored for their long years of service to HHC and its patients. Hoffman trained at Queens Hospital Center, paying $150 for the entire program, and later earned two advanced degrees at Adelphi University, but she has consistently declined opportunities to move into a management role, preferring to continue to provide bedside care. She has been at Elmhurst Hospital since the mid-1990s.
Angela Beirne, RN, Head Nurse for the evening shift in Labor and Delivery at Elmhurst, said Hoffmann attends to patients with great care and compassion during their happiest moments at the birth of a child, but also during sad and difficult times, such as when a mother miscarries or an infant is born very ill.
Hoffmann has spearheaded countless initiatives that support patients and celebrate professional staff. Most recently, she led the launch of Safe Haven at Elmhurst, which allows mothers who feel they cannot care for their newborns to leave them in a safe place, such as a hospital emergency room. Hoffmann also introduced the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses at Elmhurst. This national program honors the “superhuman work that nurses do for hospital patients and families every day.” Hoffmann likes the award because it focuses on bringing caring back to the bedside. “Nominated nurses always show genuine compassion,” she said.
Hoffmann also launched a Caritas group at Elmhurst to provide comfort when chaplains are not available at night. The group created a comfort cart, containing amulets, a Muslim prayer rug, and prayers for many faiths.
As her retirement nears—she refuses to name a date—Hoffmann, who lives in Long Island, knows that she must find another passion. Nursing will always be her first love, though.
“Nursing is so transpersonal. What you give always comes back,” she said.