EDISON, NJ — June 3, 2016 — Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan last night handed out the first “Tracy Morgan Award for Excellence in Rehabilitation Nursing,” created to honor a rehabilitation nurse at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison.
The award will be given out annually to a JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute nurse who exhibits the highest levels of skills and compassion in rehabilitation nursing.
“You are the people who saved my life. I can never really thank you enough,” an emotional Morgan said Thursday night to the nurses, physicians, physical therapists, and other members of the health care team that cared for him after his 2014 accident on the New Jersey Turnpike.
The comedian hugged the award winner, Jackie Chirichella, BSN, RN, and recalled how she continually told him he would get better. “And I did,” Morgan said.
Morgan presented the award to Chirichella and reminisced with the rehabilitation professionals — many he knew by name — after his stand-up routine at Caroline’s Broadway in New York. His routine included hilarious riffs on his recovery — from how he emerged from his coma to the physical therapists who stretched his muscles to the array of people who visited him in the hospital.
In his act, he joked that his physician, Dr. Brian Greenwald, told him his comical musings were from his brain injury.
“ I told him, ‘No, I’m just funny,” Morgan said in his routine.
During his routine, Morgan’s recovery was fodder for many no-holds-barred jokes about his recovery, but after the show he teared up when he thanked his caregivers.
Many of the health care professionals from JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute were moved by the experience.
“His timing was impeccable and he was sharp and really, really funny. It is so great to see how his recovery allowed him to reclaim his talent,” said Jim Anderson, a physician therapist.
“It was overwhelming to see him doing so well,” Chirichella said.
Sara Cuccurullo, MD, Vice President and Medical Director of JFK Johnson, said Morgan generously shared his inspiring story of recovery and put a focus on the role of rehabilitation nursing.
“We created this award to thank Tracy Morgan for the inspiration he continues to provide to our patients and for the light he shines on the skill, compassion and specialized training of rehabilitation nurses,” she said. “Tracy Morgan’s kind words about our nurses put focus on the skill and compassion of rehabilitation nurses everywhere.”
Rehabilitation nurses possess the specialized knowledge and clinical skills to help patients with disabilities, chronic illness or injuries reach their maximum level of function. Rehabilitation nurses design and implement strategies that are based on scientific nursing theory to promote physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health.
Morgan handed the award to Chirichella, assistant nurse manager for the Brain Trauma Unit, after he performed at Caroline’s comedy club in New York on Thursday night. Chirichella holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and has worked at the rehabilitation institute for 17 years.
“I am in awe of all my patients’ accomplishments every single day,” Chirichella said. “I am surrounded by the highest caliber of nurses and staff who continue to inspire me.”
Tracy Morgan starred for seven seasons on NBC’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning “30 Rock.” Morgan appeared opposite Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin as “Tracy Jordan,” the unpredictable star of a hit variety show. Currently he is staring in a nationwide stand-up tour called, “Picking up the Pieces.”
For more than 40 years, the non-profit JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison has provided specialized rehabilitation services to children and adults. The institute has 94 inpatient beds and provides a range of highly specialized services, such as stroke, cardiac, orthopedic and brain injury rehabilitation. Many of the institute’s physicians and researchers are widely published and involved in creating new techniques and interventions to advance the field of rehabilitative medicine.
PHOTO CAPTION: Tracy Morgan with Jackie Chirichella, BSN, RN, and other members of the health care team at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. Photo credit: Steve Berg
Nationally Recognized Comprehensive Rehabilitation Care
Since 1974, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute has developed programs in such specialties as stroke rehabilitation, orthopedic programs, fitness, cardiac rehabilitation, women’s health, pediatrics and brain injury rehabilitation. In addition to providing inpatient adult rehabilitation services, the institute treats thousands of children and adults each year on an outpatient and short-term basis. Outpatient rehabilitation programs are provided in Edison and our facilities in Metuchen and Monroe. We also provide a variety of consulting, treatment, education, and advocacy for local companies, professionals and schools.
Our continuum of care assures patients of an integrated, personalized program that facilitates the recovery process and encourages family participation.
JFK Johnson offers 94 inpatient beds in a separately licensed hospital that is attached to JFK Medical Center. Together, they comprise JFK Medical Center, a private, not-for-profit community hospital. The JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is accredited by the Joint Commission. The facility is also accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities in the areas of Comprehensive Integrated Inpatient Rehabilitation (Adult) and Employment Services: Comprehensive Vocational Evaluation Services. JFK Johnson is also licensed by the state of New Jersey as a Comprehensive Rehabilitation Hospital.
For additional information about our inpatient services please call (732) 321-7733, for outpatient adult and pediatric rehabilitation programs, call (732) 321-7790.