Nursing Humanity

The Wong family provides a generous gift establishing the Tikkun olam–Humanitas program


The Wongs and Tikkun olam–Humanitas nurses
From left to right: Erica Rivituso, R.N., Liz Tangerini, R.N., Nora Wong, Stephanie Ferrara, R.N., and Raymond Wong. (Note: Susan Kelley, R.N., is not pictured.)

For 79 painful days, Nora and Raymond Wong watched their beloved son Daniel struggle with a rare condition called new onset refractory status epilepticus (NORSE) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Despite BIDMC staff members’ very best efforts, nothing could save 22-year-old Daniel. In recognition of the compassionate and emotionally supportive care their son—and the entire family—received, the Wongs made a generous gift to BIDMC. They have established the Tikkun olam–Humanitas giving program in recognition of Daniel’s care team and to inspire other families to make gifts, large and small, in recognition of BIDMC staff. The Wongs were inspired to name the program after the philosophies of Tikkun olam, meaning “to heal the world,” and Humanitas, a code of excellence, kindness, and education. Get to know the four nurses who tirelessly cared for Daniel, day and night, below.

To make a gift to the Tikkun olam–Humanitas program, contact Rhea Brubaker at 617-667-4582 or visit this page.
Note: Click on “Select gift designation” and scroll down to select “Tikkun olam–Humanitas program.”

Get to Know the Nurses

Portrait of Nurse Ferrara

Stephanie Ferrara, R.N.
BIDMC nurse since 2013

What made you want to be a nurse? I went to school for physical therapy but saw the amount of time the nurses were able to spend caring for the patients and the impact they made. I loved this and knew instantly that I wanted to change course.  

What is the most challenging part of your job? When a patient is upset or doesn’t fully understand what is happening. Patients don’t always have someone to advocate for them, who can explain what is really going on. So it’s the nurse’s role to make sure each patient’s voice is heard. 

The Wongs’ experience was very complex and difficult. What was it like? It was really tough, and the hardest part was having never met him. He couldn’t respond or tell us what he was feeling. We formed a very special bond with his family that I will never forget.

What do you admire most about the Wongs? I admire that they were true advocates for their son, the best that I have ever seen. They researched, fought, called, and asked for different opinions. I have never seen a family that invested so much in saving a life.

What does this gift mean to you? This gift shows how the Wongs really acknowledged that nursing was one of the most important aspects of Daniel’s care. They truly respected us and valued our opinions throughout his time at BIDMC.

Why do you think BIDMC is unique? I have heard from patients that we are the absolute best in terms of compassionate, personalized nursing care. I have been a patient at BIDMC, and I agree!


Portrait of Nurse KellySusan Kelley, R.N.
BIDMC nurse since 1982

What is the best part of your job? Helping the patients and families is the best part. Every day is different, and you never know what it’s going to be! I try to be the very best nurse I can be, every day.

The Wongs’ experience was very complex and difficult. What was it like?
It was a very emotional experience. The Wong family is one of the most amazing families I ever met. They always wanted to do what Daniel would want. We were their second family for 79 days. This journey forever changed them, and us. We will all take a little piece of Daniel with us wherever we go.

What do you admire most about the Wongs? I admire their grace and kindness and their understanding of how hard the nurses work. I also admire how Daniel was such a major focus of their life.

Why do you think BIDMC is unique?  The patient comes first at BIDMC. There is a strong sense of community and family.

Do you have a motto or a guiding principle?  Nursing is a team sport. You can’t do it alone.


Erica Rivituso, R.N.
BIDMC nurse since 2006

What made you want to be a nurse? I wanted to become a nurse since I was very little. My mother was always in the hospital and had several surgeries when I was growing up. I remember going to visit her and watching the nurses do their work.

What is the best part of your job? Taking care of patients. I also really enjoy the family aspect of it. It’s hard to see people in horrible situations, but you also rejoice with them during the good times. I love getting to know my patients and their families.

What is the most challenging part of your job? In nursing you are literally dealing with life and death. I love end-of-life care. It’s a unique and deeply private situation that the family is allowing me to be a part of. That’s a privilege. And while it’s sad of course, it’s also peaceful. I want the family to look back and say the patient was comfortable, and I take a lot pride in providing that.

The Wongs’ experience was very complex and difficult. What was it like? It was incredibly challenging, and I will always carry those memories with me. I felt like I knew Daniel so well, even though he never opened his eyes, because Nora told us everything about him. I have never seen a mother so devoted to her child. She taught me so much about what it means to be a mom and to love your child unconditionally.

What does this gift mean to you? It’s going to give our nurse practitioners an excellent opportunity for advanced training in critical care that they currently don’t get. It will benefit NPs, patients, and families immensely.

Do you have a motto or guiding principle? You have to love it, because it’s emotionally and physically draining. As a nurse, if you can come in every day with a positive attitude, you know it’s the right fit.


Portrait of Nurse Liz TangeriniLiz Tangerini, R.N.
BIDMC nurse since 2008

What made you want to be a nurse? I wanted to do something meaningful and liked the idea of helping people feel better.

Being a nurse is difficult. How do you do it? I take it one shift at a time. It is an emotionally and physically exhausting job. I try to recognize if I’m feeling tired or burned out so I can re-evaluate things to keep my heart fully in it. 

What is the best part of your job? Knowing that I am doing something meaningful. I really love meeting so many people from different walks of life, seeing different life experiences, and learning from that. It gives me great perspective and keeps me grateful.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Seeing so much pain.

The Wongs’ experience was very complex and difficult. What was it like? They humanized nursing for me. Through his parents, I learned what an incredible person Daniel was. It was a surreal experience getting to know this magnificent person through them. Daniel taught me a lot of life lessons. I’ve never respected someone so much whom I never met. Daniel’s parents had an unprecedented degree of involvement in his care; it was a balance of intense love, advocacy, and hope.

What do you admire most about the Wongs? Their ability to channel so much pain into something positive. I admire the way they raised their son and recognized his uniqueness and greatness.

Do you have a motto or a personal philosophy? “Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth. Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls.”