BELMONT — The staff at St. Barnabas Hospital is raising breast cancer awareness, one dance move at a time.
Dozens of doctors, nurses and other staff members performed a flash mob dance on the roof of the hospital’s parking garage Tuesday as part of the Pink Glove Dance contest — a national competition where participants don pink vinyl medical gloves and film choreographed dances, uploading them to YouTube to promote breast cancer awareness.
Viewers vote for their favorite video online and the winning group receives money to donate to the breast cancer charity of its choice.
“We want to raise awareness. We’re dedicated to helping prevent cancer, as well as to treating it,” said Dr. Ernest Patti, a senior attending physician of emergency medicine.
The Pink Glove Dance phenomenon started three years ago, when the medical product manufacturer Medline launched a line of pink vinyl gloves to help promote breast cancer awareness, asking staff at a hospital in Portland, OR, to perform a dance routine wearing them. The video quickly went viral, getting 13 million YouTube hits and spurring a slew of copycat Pink Glove videos online.
Medline started the contest last year. This year’s winner will get $10,000 for their favorite charity, while the second and third place winners will get $5,000 and $2,000.
Patti said the St. Barnabas participants, who include staff members from every department, have been hard at work practicing their moves.
“We’ve been working on it for months,” Patti said. “There are representatives from every part of the hospital.”
Dozens of staffers, many of them in pink outfits and one in a bright pink wig, performed their routine Tuesday in the parking garage, shaking their pink-gloved hands to the tune “Let Yourself Go,” by Emily.
The final video will feature shots of the group dancing in different locations throughout the hospital’s campus — the cafeteria, the parking garage, the infusion center — while a security guard watches the festivities on a set of surveillance cameras.
Workers said they hoped the video could put a positive spin on a serious topic, while reminding the public about the importance of breast cancer screening in saving lives.
“It’s frightening to know we have the technology and equipment, but people [still] don’t know to go [get screened],” said Yvonne Robles, 52, director of volunteers at the hospital, and a breast cancer survivor herself. She’s been cancer-free for eight years, she said, and was thrilled when the hospital announced its involvement in the Pink Glove contest.
“As long as we keep uniting, and fundraising, and having support groups and dancing, I have faith that we’ll find a cure,” she said. “If we don’t have a voice, no one will hear us.”
Staff started practicing the dance in early July, when a professional choreographer helped them come up with a routine they dubbed the “St. Barnabas Bop."
Participants met to practice the routine on their lunch breaks and before department meetings. Staff even posted a video of someone demonstrating the moves on the St. Barnabas Hospital wiki, so those who couldn’t make the group practices could learn on their own.
Michelle Malavet, 39, the hospital’s web designer who helped organize the dance, estimated that 100 staffers participated in the different video shoots for the project, which they’ll edit together and submit online by the end of September.
A breast cancer survivor herself — she was diagnosed in 2008 and is now in her fourth year cancer-free —Malavet said she hopes the video will help remind those who are coping with illness to keep a positive attitude.
Online voting for the contest will start Oct. 12, and the winner will be announced in November.
But Malavet said whatever the outcome, St. Barnabas has already come out on top.
“Whether we win or lose, I know here in the Bronx, we won,” she said.