STONY BROOK, Long Island (WABC) -- There was a heartwarming sendoff Monday for a beloved nurse who has spent nearly two decades saving lives on Long Island and is now headed overseas for a second time to save lives in the Navy.
Nurse Kim Kaugher from Stony Brook University Hospital spent her last day at work before she is deployed to a military hospital in the Middle East.
"They had called me up and said are you interested and I felt obligated to say yes, I do want to serve, so it wasn't a question, I knew I was going to say yes," she said.
Kim is a Lieutenant in the Naval Reserves. Five years ago, she served at a hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
"I worked in the ICU taking care of a lot of the US soldiers, NATO forces, a lot of Afghan villagers, Afghan children, and it was just an incredible experience," said Kim. "I'll never forget the people that I met."
It's not clear yet where she will be assigned on her second tour. But this much is clear: she is a well-loved and humble nurse.
She was due to receive the Nurse of the Year Award in the Heart Failure Unit where she works. But the announcement would have taken place while she was abroad. So they surprised her with an early award ceremony, turning her farewell party into a double event.
"We receive numerous testimonials from patients under her care endorsing how her actions positively changed the course, not only of their hospital care, but of their lives," said Dr. Hal Skopicki, Chief of Cardiology at Stony Brook University Hospital.
"All nurses deserve an award," said Kim. "I've been a nurse for 20 years, it's a hard job and I think all nurses need to be recognized."
Didn't I tell you she was modest? 43-year-old Nurse Kaugher is third generation - GO Navy - following her father and grandfather. While she feels compelled to serve, she is also a dedicated Long Island nurse and plans to come back to Stony Brook after she finishes her tour.
"I'm going to miss everybody," she said.