Palm Health Foundation "Heart of Gold" Event Honors Top Palm Beach County Nurses

Palm Health Foundation hosted its sixth annual Heart of Gold Nursing Reception on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at the Quail Ridge Country Club in Boynton Beach to honor the extraordinary work of local nurses and recognize Palm Beach County’s 2019 Nurses of the Year. The event concludes the foundation’s four-week Thank a Nurse campaign, generously sponsored by Tenet Health and VITAS Healthcare.

More than 300 guests attended the Heart of Gold Reception sponsored by The Law Offices of Craig Goldenfarb, Trustbridge, Christine E. Lynn and the E.M. Lynn Foundation, Academy for Nursing and Health Occupations, Lynda Harris Home Health RN and Palm Beach Atlantic University.  Media sponsors were The Palm Beach Post, WPEC CBS12 and Hubbard Media.

Master of Ceremonies and media personality Roxanne Stein presided over the evening’s presentation of the 2019 Nurses of the Year.  Thirteen nurses representing all regions of Palm Beach County and a wide variety of nursing disciplines, including oncology, Alzheimer’s care, hospice and pediatrics, as well as nursing educators, were recognized. 

The 2019 Palm Health Foundation Nurses of the Year are:

  • Alexandria Alexander, Delray Medical Center
  • Heather Astacio, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center
  • Michelle Collins-Bethel, Alzheimer’s Community Care
  • Zamy Garzon, West Boca Medical Center
  • Tanya Greer, School Health Program, Health Care District of Palm Beach County
  • Lisa Kanakry, The Academy for Nursing and Health Occupations
  • Eleanore Lindelof, Catholic Charities, Interfaith Health & Wellness
  • Crystal Miller, Trustbridge
  • Lauren Noderer, Good Samaritan Medical Center
  • Dr. Marlaine Smith, Dean and Professor, Florida Atlantic University
  • Megan Smith, RN Student, Palm Beach Atlantic University School of Nursing
  • Florence Tousasaint-Bellegarde, VITAS Healthcare
  • Kaitlin Wilkerson, St. Mary’s Medical Center & Palm Beach Children’s Hospital

A special lifetime achievement award was presented to Mary Cleary Ierardi to honor her 35 years of service as a nurse at acute hospitals caring for the underserved and her volunteer leadership that resulted in the establishment of the Interfaith Health and Wellness program nearly twenty years ago.     Now under the umbrella of Catholic Charities, Interfaith Health and Wellness provides free care in clinics, churches, synagogues and in the home to those most in need.

“Nurses are often the unsung heroes of our healthcare system,” said Patrick McNamara, president and CEO of Palm Health Foundation. “Our Thank a Nurse campaign and Heart of Gold awards celebration gives us a chance to share their stories of care and compassion and honor their tireless contributions to our community.”

Proceeds raised from the Heart of Gold event and Thank a Nurse campaign will benefit nursing scholarships in Palm Beach County. Palm Health Foundation has granted $3 million in nursing scholarships to more than 1,000 nursing students for advanced education to provide quality nursing care to Palm Beach County residents.  Prior to the Heart of Gold reception, the foundation hosted the 39 2019 Palm Health Foundation nursing scholarship awardees.  The foundation partners with the George Snow Scholarship Fund to administer scholarships to the next generation of county nurses.

Palm Health Foundation is recognized by nursing leaders and educators for its dedication to growing and strengthening the nursing workforce in Palm Beach County since its inception in 2001. In addition to nursing scholarships, the foundation has invested more than $10 million in initiatives to build a highly skilled nursing workforce that provides care across all settings and supports optimal health in the community including care transitions and care coordination. 

About Palm Health Foundation

Palm Health Foundation is Palm Beach County's community foundation for health. With the support of donors and a focus on results, the foundation builds strong community partnerships, respects diverse opinions, advocates for its most vulnerable neighbors and inspires innovative solutions to lead change for better health now and for generations to come. The foundation supports health equity for Palm Beach County residents of all backgrounds, heritage, education, incomes and states of well-being. Palm Health Foundation has invested more than $78 million in Palm Beach County health since 2001. For more information about Palm Health Foundation, visit or call (561) 833-6333.