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NWH Coordinator Follows in Wife’s Footsteps, Named Caregiver of the Year

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Jeff Kent, a health unit coordinator at Northern Westchester Hospital, displays his award after being named the hospital’s Caregiver of the Year last week. He is pictured with his wife, Heather, who won the same award 11 years ago.

Mount Kisco residents Jeff Kent and his wife, Heather, both work at Northern Westchester Hospital. But their place of employment isn’t their only work-related similarity.

Last Friday, Jeff was named the 2022 Clayton Scanlan Byrne Planetree Caregiver of the Year Award at the hospital, beating out 14 other dedicated employees who were nominated for the honor. In 2011, Heather received the same award.

Jeff, the health unit coordinator in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for the past eight-and-a-half years, said almost anyone who works at Northern Westchester Hospital would have been a worthy recipient.

“It’s just an honor, it’s an honor to represent this place (and) its amazing people,” he said.

Heather, a patient care associate, said what makes the hospital a special place is the caring staff, and regardless of the department or unit, they are concerned about their co-workers, the patients, and the public.

“It’s the support around here, it’s people who just really care about being here and about doing the right thing for our patients and the community,” Heather Kent said. “It’s good. It’s caring for each other and the staff caring for each other.”

Providing excellence in person-centered care is the key hallmark of a Planetree facility, said Mandy Kilmartin, director of global services for Planetree. Northern Westchester Hospital, which received its designation from Planetree in 2005, not only has high standards for patient care and safety but also for humanity and kindness, Kilmartin said.

“It’s a much more unique thing to be recognized for their compassion and for putting people at the heart of what they do, and by recognizing individuals every year, they’re not only appreciating their employees, but appreciating the other stuff to display that same kind of compassion and that’s really a core component of person-centered care,” Kilmartin said.

Darol Bates, director of patient and customer service experience at Northern Westchester along with being the hospital’s Planetree coordinator, said to receive certification from the nonprofit health care organization is a two- to three-year process, requiring site visits and evaluations.

Once certified, Planetree representatives rank a hospital on one of three levels – bronze, silver or gold, Bates said. Not only has Northern Westchester attained gold each time since its initial certification, it has earned gold with distinction every time, the only hospital to receive that honor, she said.

In addition to Kent, the hospital also recognized its 2022 Planetree Physician Award recipient, Dr. Rich Catanzaro, the chief of behavioral health.

Making the presentations was Jen Byrne Gilhuley, whose mother demanded that she be treated at Northern Westchester when she was terminally ill because of the high level of care provided to patients. Gilhuely, who lives in Long Island, returns each year to make the winning presentation.

“There was absolutely no other choice for her just because she knew the quality of care,” Gilhuely said of her the wishes of her mother, who lived in Chappaqua. “I think of how dedicated people who work here are and how hard they work and how comfortable they made us, too.”

Kent said one of the aspects of Northern Westchester Hospital that he enjoys is that everyone’s contributions are appreciated, from the department heads and top medical staff to the maintenance crew and everyone in between.

“It’s a completely level playing field,” he said. “Everybody has a name, and I don’t think other hospitals are like that.”

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