Comedian Presents Tracy Morgan Nursing Award to JFK Johnson Nurse Who Dedicated Her Career to Helping Brain Injured Patients

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Actor and comedian, Tracy Morgan on Friday presented the “Tracy Morgan Award for Excellence in Rehabilitation Nursing” to a Gina Domingo, RN, CRNN, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute nurse who has dedicated her 30-year-career to working with brain-injured patients. (Photo: Hackensack Meridian Health)

Comedian’s Recovery Shines Light on Specialty of Rehabilitation Nursing

RED BANK, NJ

Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan on Friday presented the “Tracy Morgan Award for Excellence in Rehabilitation Nursing” to a Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute nurse who has dedicated her 30-year-career to working with brain-injured patients.

Morgan presented the third “Tracy Morgan Award for Excellence in Rehabilitation Nursing” to Gina Domingo, RN, CRRN. Domingo works on the Brain Trauma Unit at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, where she began in 1990.

Domingo was among the nurses who cared for Morgan after the comedian was seriously injured and in a coma following a 2014 accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. Since Morgan’s inspiring recovery, he has returned to comedy as well as to producing and acting. He has generously shared his story of recovery on the national stage, highlighting the work of the professionals dedicated to patients with brain injuries.

“Every day our team members are on the frontlines saving lives and getting patients through the most difficult of circumstances. I am so proud of our health care professionals and am humbled by the work they do,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “Congratulations to Gina who is so deserving of the Tracy Morgan Award. On behalf of Hackensack Meridian Health, I extend a heartfelt thanks to Tracy Morgan for taking the time to recognize the extraordinary care provided by JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute.”

“I’m so honored to receive this award,” Domingo said. “When you work with people with brain injuries, often they cannot communicate verbally. Sometimes they can’t move. The work is challenging. But when you can contribute to someone’s recovery, it’s just so rewarding.”

Morgan presented the award to Domingo after his performance at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank on Friday. She is the third rehabilitation nurse to receive the Tracy Morgan Award for Excellence in Rehabilitation Nursing.

After Morgan’s recovery, the comedian publicly thanked JFK Johnson nurses, physical therapists and other members of his team as well as his physician, Brian Greenwald, M.D., who is medical director of the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Center for Brain Injuries.

“Even today, Tracy’s amazing recovery continues to give hope to many of our patients — and also to their families,” Dr. Greenwald said. “And to see him returning to accomplish all he wants in life … that’s what we want for all of our patients.”

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. He also was a cast member for seven seasons on Saturday Night Live. He produced and stars in The Last O.G., a television series, and has starred in several movies, including What Men Want. His stand-up comedy shows are seen around the nation. Morgan’s recovery has been a subject of much of his comedy.

Sara Cuccurullo, M.D., vice president and Medical Director of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, said that by sharing his story, Morgan has put a focus on the role of rehabilitation nursing.

“We created this award to thank Tracy 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,” Dr. Cuccurullo said.

Rehabilitation nurses possess the specialized skills to help patients with disabilities, chronic illness or injuries reach their maximum level of function. They design and implement strategies that are based on scientific nursing theory to promote physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health.

Domingo, who lives in Woodbridge, graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, The Philippines. She said she appreciated seeing Morgan make full use of his talents as a comedian on the stage at the Count Basie.

“Often, a patient will return to visit and it’s always exciting and memorable to see them living the life they want and doing all they can,” she said. “So to see Tracy on stage … making everyone laugh. To see that kind of recovery in any of our patients is what motivates us every day.”

About Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Medical Center:
Serving residents of central New Jersey for more than 50 years, JFK Medical Center offers a complete array of advanced services in its 498-bed facility located in Edison, N.J. With more than 1,000 affiliated physicians, this academic medical center offers a complete spectrum of advanced services including general and specialized surgery, cardiac care, maternity and pediatrics, oncology, imaging, breast center, sleep center, wound care, robotic surgery, emergency medicine, weight loss surgery, radiology, long-term care and assisted living. It is home to the world-renowned Neuroscience Institute that diagnoses and treats brain, spine and nervous system disorders. To learn more, visit JFKMC.org

About Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute:
Offering New Jersey’s most comprehensive rehabilitation services, the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is a 94-bed facility located in Edison, N.J. serving residents of the tristate area for more than 40 years. Its mission is simple: provide quality rehabilitation for adults and children living with disabilities to obtain optimal function and independence within an accepting community. JFK Johnson Rehabilitation has developed programs in specialties that include brain injury, stroke rehabilitation, orthopedics/musculoskeletal and sports injuries, fitness, cardiac rehabilitation, women’s health, pediatrics and a prosthetics and orthotics lab. It is the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department of the Hackensack Meridian Medical School at Seton Hall University and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. To learn more, visit JFKJohnson.org

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