JIS News

When Nurse Sonia Bent was honoured by the New York health care system for her superior treatment of a police officer, who was injured during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, no one was more surprised than her.
Not because she did not deserve the honour, but the hard working and dedicated nurse sees offering quality care as just part of her job. “I just love what I do and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” the Jamaican-born nurse tells JIS News.
The Jamaican nurse has come a far way since her start as a community health aide at the Maroon Town Health Centre when she was just a teenager.
Born in Moravia, Clarendon she attended the Moravia Primary School, Vaughnsfield All-age School and later Maldon Secondary High School from which she graduated in the late sixties.
It was her experiences in Maroon Town though that cemented her decision to make nursing her life’s work. “When I saw the poverty and the help that we managed to give these people and just how grateful they were at the improvement to their health, I just knew that nursing was what I was meant to do,” Nurse Bent says.
She went on to become the first community health aide accepted to the Registered Nursing (RN) programme at the Kingston Public Hospital in 1976. Nurse Bent graduated with a RN degree from the Kingston School of Nursing in 1979. She then went to work at the Mandeville Public Hospital for nine years.
Nurse Bent also trained as a midwife while working at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in the mid-eighties. However, in an attempt to better provide for her siblings and her parents who had struggled to support her education, Ms. Bent emigrated to the United States in 1988. She was recruited by the United Medical Health Centre (UMHC) in Newark, New Jersey and while there she earned a baccalaureate degree in Nursing from the City University of New Jersey.
Although she left UMHC in 1997, her hard work did not go unnoticed, as she received the Perseverance Award from the City University of New Jersey and the Shining Star Award from UMHC.
Though she did not know it at the time, her next job at the Beth Israel Medical Centre would bring her the highest honour yet. Immediately following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11, 2001, Detective Jerry Bayrodt of the New York Police Department, who was hurt in the tragedy was put under Nurse Bent’s care.
“At first he wouldn’t speak to me or to anyone and he would just watch the television mourning the loss of his fallen comrades,” Nurse Bent recalls. “I continued to try to engage him in conversation and while it was difficult at first, he slowly came round and we became very close,” she says.
Detective Bayrodt spent six weeks at Beth Israel and after his discharge, Det. Bayrodt wrote a letter to Ron Delmaro, President of the St. Barnabas Health Care system telling him (Delmaro) of Nurse Bent’s attentive and superior skills as a nurse. As a result, she was awarded the 2002 Clinical Excellence Award, Patient Satisfaction Award from Beth Israel and the Humanistic Patient Care Award from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey for her immense commitment to quality patient care.
At the ceremony, Det. Bayrodt, flanked by high-ranking officials from the New York Police Department, made a surprise visit to present an overwhelmed Nurse Bent with several plaques of appreciation from the Sergeant Benevolent Association, the Detective Endowment Association of New York and the Detective Bureau of New York.
“I am happy to represent Jamaica as it was there that I learnt the most about how to be a good nurse and so that is why I return each year to a place that is still home for me,” she continues.
When asked what she still hoped to accomplish in the future, Nurse Bent responds, ” I’m not entirely sure but I know that I will still be committed to my work.”

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