Keeping it all in the family: Mother-daughter nursing duo at Northwell Health’s Staten Island University Hospital

STATEN ISLAND — Rita and Raquel Cardenas are two peas in a pod.

From their looks and their mannerisms, to the way they interact, you can feel the love between this mother and daughter.

For Rita, who didn’t have a sister, Raquel was the “best friend” she had always wanted.

And for Raquel, who has two brothers, it was all about sticking together in a house full of men.

"She was 6 years old and she said to me, mommy, I want to be a nurse like you. And she never stopped saying that," Cardenas said.

Her daughter agreed that nursing was the only thing she ever had in her head and to this day, does not have a "Plan B."

She watched her mom work her way up from a pediatric nurse, to the NICU, to now the administrative director of the Center for Women’s Health at Northwell Health’s Staten Island University Hospital.

"Knowing that she was taking care of other people's families and other people's children and then she came home and she raised me and my two younger brothers. She always got the job done," the younger Cardenas said about her mom.

It inspired her to build her own career in the hospital’s medical-surgery unit, which she is now the nurse manager.

The mother-daughter duo speaks five times a day. They say being separated during Hurricane Sandy was one of their scariest moments.

"I was actually downstairs in the lobby when we saw it coming. Here I am, away from my family, not knowing if they were OK, with my grandmother, my sick grandmother," Cardenas said.

And Northwell Health was there in the aftermath, to help pick up the pieces for both its employees and the whole community.

That's something that's not lost on this mother and her daughter, as they continue in a profession that's bonded them for life.