Eugene Catagnus (left) and Brandi Chawaga
Einstein Medical Center Montgomery

Outstanding Service Brings Honors to 2 at Einstein Montgomery

By on 11/14/2022

A beloved environmental services worker and a community liaison leader whose life is devoted to good deeds were selected as the 2022 recipients of the Korman Family Prize, the most prestigious annual award bestowed on members of the staff at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery.

Eugene Catagnus, a member of the environmental services team assigned to the Emergency Department, and Brandi Chawaga, Director of Community Outreach, were selected from among a dozen staff members nominated for the prize.

Chief Operating Officer Beth Duffy announced the winners at a gathering in the South Lobby of the East Norriton hospital on Oct. 12.

Berton and Sallie Korman and their family endowed the prize to celebrate Einstein Montgomery staff who “best represent the qualities found in Einstein Montgomery’s five pillars: Quality, Service, Academics, Diversity and Inclusion, and People,” Duffy said in her address.

“As one of Einstein’s treasured legacy families, five generations of Kormans have contributed to the growth and success of Einstein,” Duffy added.

Those contributions began with patriarch Hyman Korman’s involvement with Einstein’s founding as the Jewish Hospital in the 19th Century. The prize is endowed in perpetuity by a $1 million gift.

“I am humbled and honored to have been nominated and to receive this award,” Chawaga said. “I am also thrilled about the recognition and hope it motivates others to support their community. 

“There are so many ways to give back – resources, expertise, time, talents, volunteerism … the list goes on.”

“I was shocked,” said Catagnus, the other winner. “I couldn’t believe it. I had to go and tell my parents right away,” he said of his elderly mother and father whom he visits every day after work.

Coworkers who nominated Catagnus were rhapsodic in their tributes to his “exceptional work ethic and dedication to the patients, families and staff of the Emergency Department.”

They said Catagnus is “always willing to reprioritize his work to meet the needs of the department”; “rarely takes a day off” from his night shift assignment, and is sorely missed when he does; and will “step in to help any patient in any way that he can.”

“He is a treasured member of the Emergency Department team and an incredibly driven and hard worker,” Duffy said in her speech.

The many accomplishments of Brandi Chwaga were cited by Duffy and the individuals who nominated her, whose names were not disclosed. 

Chawaga has coordinated and participated in drives for newborn clothing, cribs and car seats, holiday gifts and food. She has cultivated a community garden that has produced over 400 pounds of produce annually for local food banks, and created domestic violence programs in conjunction with Laurel House shelter.

She has organized healthy cooking classes for patients struggling with obesity and chronic disease, and established productive partnerships with community ethnic groups and senior organizations.

Outside of work, Chawaga – who is Ukrainian – and her family have worked with local Ukrainian organizations to support women and children displaced by the Russian invasion. Their efforts have included providing financing for women with breast cancer and shipping clothing and hygiene products to teens displaced to Poland and Germany.

Chawaga and her family will also host a Ukrainian family enrolled in the Uniting for Ukraine two-year immigration support program. She is a “true humanitarian with a dedication to serve others,” her nomination said.

The Korman Family prize ceremony was attended by hospital leadership and by Geoff Duffine, chairman of the Einstein Montgomery Board of Directors, and John Korman, who is Bert and Sallie’s son and is a member of the Einstein Healthcare Network Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Albert Einstein Society. Sallie Korman appeared via Zoom; Bert died in 2022.

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