Sandy McCaffrey: “The best job at the Department of Sanitation”
Narrator: Sandy McCaffrey, Nurse at the Medical Division of the Department of Sanitation of New York
Interviewer: Rachel Greer
Date: March 21, 2011
Location: 44 Beaver Street, New York, NY: Sandy’s office at the DSNY clinic
Sandy McCaffrey was born in 1944 in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, to a large coal-mining family. She moved to New York City when she was 17 to attend the nurse’s training program at Kings County Hospital. After graduating at the top of her class, she held a variety of increasingly responsible nursing positions in Brooklyn, including helping to found the Brooklyn Women’s Pavilion. In 1985, McCaffrey began working at DSNY. After six months working as a nurse in the clinic, her supervisor asked her to go out in the field. She began documenting worker safety violations and implementing public health campaigns within the Department to alleviate and eradicate these violations. Now, among other things, she advocates for patients, writes legal and medical documents for the Department, oversees and runs worker safety trainings, oversees injury and special cases, and acts as a confidante and counselor for sanitation personnel of all ranks.
The interview took place on Monday, March 21, 2011 at 2:00pm at her office on 44 Beaver Street in downtown Manhattan and was two hours in duration. Sandy discussed her career at the DSNY, paying special attention to the programs she has implemented over the years, her relationship with sanitation workers from a medical and personal perspective, and her personal beliefs and how they influence her work.
Sandy began with her early life and her career trajectory. From there she moved into her career at DSNY, beginning with the worker safety projects she implemented after studying what was happening out in the field with DSNY workers. She spoke about her role as counselor, teacher, medical advisor, and patient advocate for san workers, and about her specialized knowledge of the Department. Sandy also talked about how her value system has influenced her life and career. She believes deeply in kindness, compassion, seeing people as individuals, and telling it like it is, and these values have greatly influenced her everyday work. She also spoke at length about the Medical Division’s management of the unlimited sick leave policy. The interview explored in depth Sandy’s unique and longstanding perspective on the DSNY.
Clip 1: The beginnings of the lead testing program at DSNY.
Clip 2: What the public needs to know about Sanitation.
Clip 3: Sandy’s role as confidante and counselor.
Full Interview Audio: