Ami Schnauber, Director of Government Relations at LeadingAge New York presented O’Grady with her award during a ceremony held at the Pediatric Center Thursday afternoon. Alyssa Lovelace, Government Relations Analyst at LeadingAge New York was also on hand for the event, as were Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-N.Y.) and State Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer who presented O’Grady with the legislative resolution honoring the recipients of the LeadingAge New York 2013 Employees of Distinction Award.
O’Grady also received acknowledgement from those who know her best – her colleagues and some of the children she’s worked with. Patricia Tursi, Chief Executive Officer at the Pediatric Center, presented O’Grady with a musical angel that plays the hymn “Amazing Grace,” symbolizing the way that O’Grady’s gifts of song and music comfort and inspire. Afterwards, Josh and Stephanie, two patients, performed “For Good,” from the Broadway musical Wicked and Miley Cyrus’, “The Climb,” as a tribute to O’Grady, which brought many in the audience to tears.
The heartfelt recognition was much deserved for O’Grady, who has worked within our Continuum of Care for almost 10 years. O’Grady began working as a music therapist at the John A. Coleman School in July of 2004 before transitioning to the Pediatric Center in 2008. Claire Ghetti, Clinical Director for the Creative Arts and Child Life at the Pediatric Center described O’Grady as a “a pillar of our pediatric palliative care program” who has “demonstrated leadership in her initiatives to formalize the presence of palliative care services and to support families as they transition into the facility or as their children transition through end-of-life.”
But what O’Grady’s coworkers really believe makes her stand out as a practitioner is all that she does beyond her job description. “I have witnessed her sit with a dying child for hours, playing music to comfort and to entrain their breaths, easing the burden of agonal breathing,” said Dr. Alvin Moyer, Attending Physician and Palliative Care Committee Chair at the Pediatric Center. “Kristen’s willingness to work beyond what is expected of her, her amazing capacity for compassion and her innate ability to comfort those in need serve as an inspiration to both her colleagues as well as the families she serves. Kristen makes me want to be a better person, and working with her has made me a better physician,” he added.
O’Grady, who lives in Hazlet, N.J. with her husband Mark and their daughter Molly, is expecting the birth of a baby girl in May.
About the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center
The Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center is a not-for-profit, pediatric specialty nursing facility, serving children from infancy through age 21, who are among the most medically complex children in New York State. The Pediatric Center, which is a 137-bed and 165,000-square-