2009-10-09 / Community

PHC To Honor Nurse and Physician At 102nd Anniversary Ball

Left, Olajide F. Olawepo, M.D., Director, Department of Pediatrics. Right, Ms. Eunmi Kim, nurse. Left, Olajide F. Olawepo, M.D., Director, Department of Pediatrics. Right, Ms. Eunmi Kim, nurse. It is with great pleasure that Peninsula Hospital Center honors two of its own at its 102nd Anniversary Ball to be held on Saturday, October 31 at the El Caribe Country Club Caterers in Brooklyn, New York.

Eunmi Kim has been an exemplary member of Peninsula Hospital Center's nursing staff since 1971. She has earned the respect of all she serves through the compassionate and competent care she provides, effective communication, critical thinking and her ability to manage constant change. Although dedicated to bedside nursing, Eunmi displays a reassuring ease in her role as a highly skilled nursing leader and has truly made nursing a lifelong commitment.

Kim was one of thirty nurses recruited by Peninsula Hospital Center from Seoul, Korea in 1970. Having graduated as high school valedictorian and with honors from Seoul National University, College of Nursing, she was working as a staff nurse in the hospital's Neurosurgical ICU and teaching at the Foreign Development Center for RNs and NAs to go abroad, when she was offered the opportunity to travel to the United States herself and work at Peninsula Hospital Center. At that time, Eunmi's dream was to continue her nursing career, obtain a master's degree and doctorate degree from Columbia University, return to Seoul and teach nursing. She soon discovered that language barriers would delay her dream of Columbia University, so she concentrated on her nursing career at Peninsula Hospital Center and mastering the English language. A bit homesick after two years, Eumni returned to Seoul on vacation, where she met and later married her husband. She brought her husband back to the United States with the hopes that he, too, could have a better life. Eunmi continued her very busy career here at the Hospital Center experiencing bedside nursing in nearly every unit in the hospital as a staff nurse and advancing into the positions of CCU Assistant Head Nurse, PACU Nurse Manager, Assistant Director Critical Care Units and PACU and now, Director, Critical Care Nursing. Through the years, Eunmi also completed a Fundamental Critical Care Medicine Support Instructor Course at Hackensack University Hospital, is a Basic Life Support and Advance Cardiovascular Life Support Course instructor for the American Heart Association and serves as a liaison to all Korean speaking patients at the Hospital Center.

Even though she maintained a very busy nursing schedule and dedicated herself to raising the couple's two children, her dream of continuing education was never quite out of the picture.

After the Kim's children graduated from college, Eunmi's daughter encouraged her to pursue her dream of higher education once again. During the years Eunmi spent in the United States, she had become very involved in the Korean Church and had found a secondary calling there as a counselor. In 2000, she obtained her master's degree in Divinity from the American Theological Seminary and in 2003, successfully completed her doctorate in Religion - Christian Counseling from the Christian Bible College. Eunmi believes that there is a very close connection between her nursing skills and her counseling abilities and combines the two whenever possible. This was finally her first dream come true.

Although retirement isn't in the picture quite yet, Kim's continuing dream is to become a missionary - perhaps in a third-world country - utilizing the unique skills she possesses.

"I came to the United States with a suitcase and a big dream. I have planned my life around three families: my parents, my husband and children and my extended family here at Peninsula Hospital Center. I am here to serve my patients, their families, the physicians and my staff, to the very best of my ability and while my heart is here at Peninsula Hospital, I pray that I will be able to serve eventually in a more broad capacity and work with those less fortunate in the world," Kim said.

Peninsula Hospital Center is very pleased to include one of its outstanding nurses, Eunmi Kim, R.N., Ph.D., as one of its respected 102nd Anniversary Ball honorees.

Olajide F. Olawepo, M.D., Director, Department of Pediatrics, will also be honored. He has been an attending physician at Peninsula Hospital Center and an integral part of the Hospital Center's pediatric services since September of 2000, shortly after the Angels on the Bay Pediatric Unit was opened.

A native of Nigeria, Dr. Olawepo attended college and medical school at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. After his graduation in 1986, he moved to Trinidad, West Indies, where he completed his internship and began practicing pediatric medicine in the San Fernando General Hospital in Trinidad. It was in Trinidad where he met and married his wife, Ingrid, a television journalist. In 1995, after being recruited to come from Trinidad to Brooklyn Hospital, the Olawepos moved to New York where Dr. Olawepo did his three-year residency program specializing in pediatrics. Dr. Olawepo remained at Brooklyn Hospital Center for the next two years as an attending Emergency Department Pediatric physician.

In 2000, Dr. Olawepo came to Peninsula Hospital Center as the Associate Director of the Pediatrics Department and quickly became well known for his expertise in pediatrics and dedication to his patients. Since his arrival at the Hospital Center, Dr. Olawepo (or "Dr. O" as he is known to many) has become synonymous with "pediatrics at Peninsula Hospital Center." He takes care of all the children in the Family Health Center, Emergency Department and in the Angels on the Bay Pediatric Unit as well as the Olawepo's two sons, Darrin and Oladeji. When outside the Hospital Center assisting with community outreach events, neighborhood children eagerly approach him to say hello and are always greeted warmly and enthusiastically in return. Doctor Olawepo's gift for pediatric medicine is not only a positive for the children but for the parents as well as he extends his reassuring ways to them.

"The very first thing I noticed when I came to Peninsula Hospital Center was the friendly staff and the closely knit Rockaway community. When I was young, I always said that it is better to light the candle than curse the darkness, meaning that you must do more than just take advantage of whatever is offered to you, you must give back, and that is something I try to do every day," Olawepo said.

Olajide Olawepo, M.D. and Eunmi Kim, R.N., PhD join Lucy Salpeter, Benefactor, Trustee and longtime friend to Peninsula Hospital Center as honorees at its 2009 Gala. For further information about the 102nd Anniversary Ball, please contact the Department of External Affairs at 718-734- 2506/7.

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