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A Nurse Reunion 25 Years in the Making


In an emotional reunion today, Hadassah Willig, RN, finally met the pediatric nurse who was by her bedside 25 years ago, as she lay in a coma as a child.

Since being treated at Cohen Children's Medical Center for encephalitis in 1992, Ms. Willig, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream, never forgot the nurse who cared for her as a five year old – "Nurse Maxine." A former Plainview, NY, resident, Maxine Hogan, RN, now resides in Florida with her family. She flew north to New York to reunite today with Ms. Willig.

When the women finally saw each other for the first time a long hug and emotions took over. "I believe Maxine is the reason that I became a nurse," said Ms. Willig.

The reunion was equally gratifying for Ms. Hogan. "This was so special, and it really speaks to the profession of nursing and care," she said. "I'm honored that Hadassah wanted to find me and I'm proud of her."

Their history began in 1992 when Ms. Willig, was admitted to Cohen Children's Medical Center (then known as Schneider Children's Hospital) with a form of encephalitis that had her in and out of a coma for weeks. Ms. Willig says she remembers hearing what the doctors were saying around her. She also never forgot her favorite nurse Maxine.

"I always felt comforted when Maxine was around because of how she took care of me. She was a very calming person," Ms. Willig said. "I remember she used to take me to the recreation room to hear people singing 'Old McDonald.' She also brought arts and crafts to my room because she saw that I liked to create things. I was a 5-year-old, in the hospital, and she made me feel safe, so she obviously had a wonderful effect on me."

For Ms. Hogan, who was a nurse at the children's hospital until 1994, the reunion started out as a surprise. She got a call earlier this year from a representative from Northwell Health, which includes both Cohen Children's Medical Center and LIJ Valley Stream. "I was told that a patient I cared for in 1992 was looking for me. I was shocked, completely shocked," said Ms. Hogan. She is still a pediatric nurse working for Broward Health in Coral Springs, FL. "I knew I was going to come back to Long Island to meet Hadassah when I heard she wanted to find me. I just had to work out my schedule to make it happen."

On Friday, the two women met again, not as nurse and patient, but as two nurses, who are both mothers and also share the same faith.

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About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State's largest health care provider and private employer, with 22 hospitals and over 550 outpatient facilities. We care for more than two million people annually in the metro New York area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 62,000 employees – 15,000+ nurses and about 3,900 physicians, including more than 2,800 members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We're making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. And we offer health insurance through CareConnect. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit

Andrea Mineo
[email protected]

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