Department of Surgery Recognizes Three Staff Members for Excellence

April 30, 2021

The Department of Surgery in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons celebrated its annual Employee Appreciation Week in April and announced three winners of this year’s Employee Excellence Awards. This year’s winners are practice manager Yosandriz Diaz, program coordinator Marlene Haselbauer, and nurse practitioner Rosie Te-Frey.

The annual awards recognize staff who contribute to the overall excellence of the department and its work environment. Staff members nominate one another, and winners are chosen from among those who demonstrate “excellence, integrity, respect, teamwork, innovation, and accountability.” The selection committee also considers feedback from patients, physicians, and other members of the Columbia community.

“The number of nominations we receive means that the nomination process is legitimately competitive, so to be recognized in this way means that everybody knows these individuals are a foundation of our success,” says Saleha Ahmed, director of human resources and academic affairs in the VP&S Department of Surgery.

The awards are part of a broader collection of the department’s recognition programs, all of which had to adapt this year in light of the pandemic. Initiatives include a virtual Employee Appreciation Week, grab-and-go lunches, daily raffles throughout the month of April, and recognition for years of service.


“We had to shuffle the deck this year and figure out how we could keep everyone engaged, and part of that is our recognition programs,” Ahmed says. “In the midst of COVID and all that upheaval, we are still thinking of our employees in finding new ways to lift spirits and recognize their contributions.”

Ahmed and colleagues were able to find new ways to recognize employees thanks to strong support from Lawrence Beilis, MHA, chief financial and administrative officer for the Department of Surgery; Craig R. Smith Jr., MD, chair of the Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center; and Francine Castillo, MS, director of practice operations for the Department of Surgery.

For departments interesting in recognizing their staff members, CUIMC Human Resources provides assistance for establishing reward and recognition programs

"Recognizing our employees, whether through awards or in other ways, helps them see how valued they are at CUIMC and that their contributions are truly critical to our overall success," says Bill Innes, CUIMC’s chief human resources officer.

“These award winners, and others who are receiving similar recognition in departments throughout our medical center, have our deepest gratitude and respect,” he adds.

Haselbauer, one of this year’s awardees, started working in the Department of Surgery in 1971. For 50 years, she has watched generations of surgeons pass through the medical center.  

“I had never won anything before,” she says. “I was very, very, very surprised. There are so many hardworking people in this department, and it's so overwhelming to know that people felt this way about me. It's so rewarding to be able to say, ‘My God, all these things that you’ve done have paid off!’”


Yosandriz Diaz, Marlene Haselbauer, Rosie Te-Frey

Yosandriz Diaz, Practice Manager, Bariatrics 

What colleagues say about Diaz: “She is approachable, respectful, goal-oriented, and a fantastic problem solver. She is definitely my ‘go-to’ manager. She appears to be driven by an inner motor—the motivation to do a job well. She is accountable and reliable.”

Marlene Haselbauer, Program Coordinator, Surgery 

What colleagues say about Haselbauer: “Despite new challenges to the process of recruiting and matching residency applicants (all interviews and rank meetings were held remotely), Marlene ensured a smooth and effective process. She raises our spirits with a uniquely positive attitude.”

Rosie Te-Frey, Clinical Coordinator III, Nurse Practitioner, Cardiothoracic 

What colleagues say about Te-Frey: “NP Te-Frey [brings] an unmatched level of integrity to this team, to her patients, and to her practice. She demonstrates a personal responsibility that reflects in her work ethic and unsurpassed clinical judgment. She is always dependable for a clinical update, a synopsis of a new research study, or an improvement to practice. She serves as a role model for the other members of this program and is a true ‘heart healer’ for our patients.”


Want to see your department’s employee recognition awards in CUIMC Update? Email