Mount Sinai South Nassau says goodbye to Eileen Mahler


Mount Sinai South Nassau recently bid a fond farewell to longtime Oceanside resident Eileen Mahler, who recently retired after a 45-year career dedicated to nursing.

The retirement celebration for Mahler, organized by her hospital colleagues and administrators, was a surprise “clap-out” procession held at the hospital’s main entrance on March 22 at 2 p.m. The afternoon included a heartfelt tribute to Mahler’s decades of service, culminating in a chauffeured ride home in a BMW convertible, escorted by an Oceanside Fire Department fire engine.

“Thank you, Eileen, for your dedication and everything you’ve done to support the patient care services department,” Margaret Pfeiffer, the hospital’s vice president of patient care services, said. “You have been an instrumental part of our growth for over four decades. Thank you for your lifetime of dedication to Mount Sinai South Nassau, and your numerous contributions to the nursing profession. You will continue to inspire countless pieces for years to come.”

Mahler began her nursing career in 1979 at what was then known as South Nassau Communities Hospital, starting as a bedside nurse in the maternity unit. She commuted to work from Queens until she moved to Oceanside when she married her husband Bill in 1990. She rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the director of nursing education: professional development, practice and research in 2012.

Throughout her tenure, she was rewarded for her dedication to patient care and nursing excellence. She was the recipient of the Town of Hempstead’s Health Services Pathfinder Award in 2018, and was certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center in nursing professional development and as a nurse executive. While working as a nurse, Mahler earned her Ph.D.

“I was a clinical nurse at the beginning of my career and then moved into leadership, and in either of those, your focus is the patient, but as you move into leadership, and then moved into education, the focus was on our nurses,” she said. ”How can we help them learn and adjust to the stress of the profession and care for themselves as well?”

Reflecting on what inspired her to pursue nursing, Mahler recalled the early influence of her grandmother, who instilled in her a sense of compassion and service to others. That propelled Mahler into a career characterized by a deep commitment to caring for patients and supporting her fellow nurses.

“First and foremost, can we do the best outcomes for our patients and really give the best quality care?” she said.

Over the years, Mahler has witnessed significant challenges in healthcare, from navigating through the HIV/AIDS epidemic to responding to natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy. However, the Covid-19 pandemic posed one of the greatest tests for Mahler and her colleagues. Despite the unprecedented challenges, Mahler’s leadership and expertise proved invaluable in guiding the hospital through this crisis.

“That was something none of us had seen in our lifetime,” she said of the pandemic. “Before the vaccine came out, how many patients just succumbed to the illness? It was frustrating. We had so many patients in the hospital, and I was in education at that time so it was really about trying to train nurses who came from other areas and settings, to care for many critical care patients.”

Mahler’s contributions to nursing education have been instrumental in earning Mount Sinai South Nassau the prestigious American Nurses Credentialing Center Nurse Magnet designation. The Magnet Recognition Program designates organizations worldwide where nursing leaders successfully align their nursing strategic goals to improve the organization’s patient outcomes.

Her commitment to excellence has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by the numerous awards she has received, including the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Lifetime Achievement and Leadership awards.

For Mahler, retirement marks the end of an era, but it also represents the beginning of a new adventure. As she reflected on her 45-year career, Mahler expressed gratitude for the support of her colleagues, the trust of her patients, and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

In retirement, she plans to pursue her other passions, including traveling, teaching and playing the piano. She also is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, her son Billy, 31, stepdaughter Angela, 49, and her grandkids, Frank, 19, Anthony, 22, and Catherine, 26.

“It’s so new now,” she said. “I think I’ll miss the people I work with. They really are truly your second family, but I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family because over the years, they kind of didn’t have the benefit of me being around as much.

“I think that will be good to be able to do more things, see many friends, have dinner, have friends over, and it’ll be a little less hectic now that you don’t have to be up early the next day for your shift,” Mahler added.