Formerly homeless veteran turned nursing hero is giving back to our communities during COVID-19
Overcoming his own adversities, veteran and registered nurse Andy is now giving back and caring for those who need it most.
Antranik “Andy” Garabedian, RN, BSN, is a registered nurse at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital (LIJVS) who uses his compassion to not only deliver care to our patients, but to our communities.
Prior to becoming a registered nurse, Andy first served in the U.S. Marines as a Private. “I think that people often forget that military missions are usually based off humanitarian issues first and that is why many military members join healthcare teams,” says Andy. “It’s a common thread, that leads to a common goal and the delivery method is embedded as a team. Northwell has been great to everyone I know who is a veteran across many different facilities because of the inclusivity. It is a feeling of belonging and that you matter at Northwell.”
After receiving a medical discharge from the Marines in the early 2000s, Andy later decided to find a new way to serve people as a nurse. “Nursing is a passion of mine because of my grandmother,” says Andy. “My grandmother became ill in 2004 and passed away. I took care of her for the last few weeks of her life and every patient interaction reminds me of her and why I am here. I came into nursing with her in my heart, the drive of a warrior and the passion for being there for those who need us.”
Today Andy still uses the vital experience he gained in the Marines while working as a nurse. “In the Marines I learned the ability to adapt to almost any situation and to press ahead and complete the tasks ahead – skills that have been invaluable to me as a nurse. What makes me a better team member is that I will jump in and help anyone who is struggling or needs that extra hand.”
Giving back beyond the bedside
On top of working at LIJVS as a nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic, Andy was inspired in another way to help those struggling in our communities. “One random April day, I went into Manhattan to see how empty the city was at the height of the pandemic. Nobody was there except the homeless and hungry. I was homeless myself in my early twenties for about three years and I know how tough it is on a regular day, but add in a pandemic and the homeless people I encountered were really struggling.”
Doing what he could that day, Andy purchased meals, water bottles, drinks, socks and more, for the individuals he encountered but he knew there was more that could be done to help take care of our communities. Within 24 hours, Aggregate Hearts was born – a charity created to focus on supporting the sick, hungry and homeless during the pandemic.
Andy co-founded Aggregate Hearts with Dawna Scheich, a registered nurse with FlexStaff, and since their start they’ve felt support at Northwell. “Leadership has really been great,” says Andy. “In addition to helping me raise money, donating clothing and items, several members of the management team have physically joined us and came to deliver food and items with me. The overwhelming support of my colleagues and coworkers has been tremendous, from ideas of how to serve these individuals, to raising money.”
In addition to helping those in need, Andy and Aggregate Hearts have been sourcing food from several local businesses regularly to help support local and small businesses in our communities as well.
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