The 2021 Carey Cowles Award goes to Joanne Kaldy, senior contributing writer at Caring, for “Not a Pizza Party: How to Help Frontline Staff During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (Caring for the Ages 2020;22:P19).
“Except for the Pulitzer, I can’t think of any other award that would mean more to me,” Ms. Kaldy reflected when she heard the news. The award recognizes the author of the most read/downloaded article of the year and was established in memory of Carey Cowles, Caring’s managing editor for four years, who lost her battle with cancer in 2018.
Carey had been a colleague and friend to Ms. Kaldy. “When we had that first Editorial Board meeting after she passed, I just felt her absence so strongly,” Ms. Kaldy remembered. “I wanted to talk about it more, but we had to get on to business.” After the meeting, Paige Hector, LMSW, Caring’s associate editor, sent her a framed photograph of Carey so that she could remember her — Ms. Kaldy was touched by the gesture. It sits in her living room, and she often says hello to Carey when she passes by the photograph.
In addition to Carey being known for her love of the Colorado Bulldog cocktail, Ms. Kaldy remembers her as being the eye of the storm. “There would be chaos reigning all around, and Carey was just calm. She had such a positive effect on me that way. I tend to get a little overexcited and worried about everything, and she just went along and said, we’re fine, we’re good. It was really wonderful to be around her and call her a friend.”
Ms. Kaldy believes the article’s popularity reflects the support of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine of certified nurse assistants (CNAs).
The article, published in January 2021, featured an opening talk given by David Grabowski, PhD, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, at the National Association of Health Care Assistants’ (NAHCA) CNA Staffing Summit in October 2020. Dr. Grabowski’s research considers the true value of CNAs during the COVID-19 pandemic; they provide 80% to 90% of direct care to patients in nursing homes.
Ms. Kaldy reflected that Dr. Grabowski had called being a nursing home caregiver “one of the most dangerous jobs in America” due to its high risk of infection among staff, limited personal protective equipment, poor pay and sick leave, and a frightening number of staff deaths. “I was really pleased to have the opportunity to share all of that with AMDA members because our CNAs do such an amazing job and are such an important part of the care team,” Ms. Kaldy said.
Ms. Kaldy was honored to receive the award. “When the idea to do the award came up, I was really excited about it, and never in a million years would I have thought I would win it someday!”
“I’m still smiling, I can’t stop smiling,” she said.
Tess Bird, DPhil, is the current managing editor of Caring for the Ages.