Northwell Health Nurse and Port Washington resident, Dr. Sandra Lindsay was recently honored by President Joseph Biden during a special naturalization ceremony at the White House earlier this month. President Biden presented Dr. Lindsay with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Outstanding Americans by Choice (ABC) recognition.
The Outstanding Americans by Choice initiative “recognizes the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens through civic participation, professional achievement and responsible citizenship. Recipients of this honor have demonstrated their commitment to this country and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans. The USCIS recognizes naturalized citizens who have made significant contributions to both their community and their adopted country.”
“During the height of the pandemic, Sandra poured her heart and soul, working with patients and keeping her fellow nurses safe,” President Joe Biden said. “When the time came, she became the first person in America to get fully vaccinated outside the trials. She can now hug her grandson. She’s out there making sure her patients and folks in the community get vaccinated.”
In March 2020, Dr. Lindsay, the Director of Patient Care Services for Critical Care at Northwell Health, was responsible for leading a team of nurses in some of the sickest COVID-19 wards at LIJ-MC. Northwell Health, the largest health care provider in New York was one of the nation’s first epicenters of the pandemic early last year.
In an interview with Vanessa Nastro, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian for the Port Washington Public Library’s Local History Center, Dr. Lindsay spoke about her confidence in the vaccine.
On the evening of Dec. 13, 2020, Lindsay’s Chief Officer called her and asked if she was interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine the next day, Lindsay explained to Nastro.
“I said without any hesitation absolutely,” Lindsay said. “I see this as a way forward. I saw that wearing our masks, social distancing and good hand hygiene—those are particular preventative measures and it will help the spread but it will not give us the impact that we need right now in this global crisis.”
After a tough year, Dr. Lindsay became the first American to receive the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer vaccine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center on December 14, 2020. Since receiving her vaccine, Dr. Lindsay has become a strong advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine. She encourages those who might be hesitant to receive the vaccine to do their research.
“Data is powerful— it tells the story,” Lindsay said to Nastro during the interview. “I’m hopeful that the Port Washington community will do their part in making a difference and that means getting vaccinated. If you’re still on the fence—get information, be informed, ask the right questions, be curious. It’s fine to be curious and ask questions. We understand that getting vaccinated is a personal choice. There are people who are hesitant because of history and that should not be dismissed because it’s relevant.”
Dr. Lindsay immigrated to the United States from Jamaica at the age of 18. She paid her bills by babysitting and working at a grocery store, and earned her nursing degree from the Borough of Manhattan Community College in 1994. In 1997, Dr. Lindsay became a U.S. citizen.
“I came to this country for the opportunities—not only for myself but to be able to help others,” Dr. Lindsay said in a press release. “As a nurse, I do everything to care for the sickest patients and lead by example. More than 24 years after becoming a naturalized citizen, I could never have imagined where I am today, at the White House receiving high honors from the President. It’s truly a privilege to be a part of this great nation and I will continue to lead and help those in need.”
”Sandra came to this country to make a difference and on that December day she courageously decided to get that shot and help lead this country out of the pandemic,” Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, said. “As an immigrant myself, Sandra is the epitome of the power immigrants hold in writing this great nation’s history and on behalf of the entire Northwell Health family, we are proud to support her.”
Dr. Lindsay was also the grand marshal of last week’s Hometown Hero’s ticker tape parade in New York City.
The Hometown Heroes’ ticker tape parade honored all those nurses, teachers, transportation employees, firefighters, EMS personell, police officers, volunteer charity workers and more who helped bring New York through the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
The parade began at Battery Park and continued along the Canyon of Heroes, which is the name for the more than 200 black granite plaques that commemorate and list every single ticker tape parade in New York City history, Dr. Lindsay rode in a vintage convertible at the head of the parade, which featured more than 14 floats and 10 bands, she cheered and waved at the crowd scattered along the parade route. The parade route continued for about a mile, ending at City Hall Park.
—Additional information provided by Northwell Health