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Kathleen Morrison

Respecting the Emotional Factor

In health care, it’s one thing to master all the necessary technical elements of treatment and care. Yet there’s another, even more vital aspect—helping your patient on the human level; most especially in times of intense emotional vulnerability.

Kathleen Morrison, RN, knows all about that. As Assistant Nurse Manager at the Catholic Health Cancer Institute at St. Francis Hospital (Roslyn, NY), she assists patients as they commence their chemotherapy regimen.

“I speak to each new patient the day before they start,” says Morrison. “I acclimate them to the infusion process, answer all their questions and really shepherd them every step of the way forward. We know that cancer patients are coping with so many swirling emotions, so we do all we can to settle their nerves, bring some calm and confidence to the situation. That often means just sitting with them as the infusion begins. We talk, hold hands; just show that you care.”

For most people, “cancer” is the scariest word in the language. Yet, Morrison says that becoming an oncology nurse was the best decision she ever made. “I love our team. We’re a very close-knit unit. And I love getting to know the patients. We really bond on a human level. They show their appreciation over and over; bringing little gifts or baked cookies or writing nice notes. I find it so very rewarding.”

Morrison says that compassion is the indispensable element in health care.

“I’ve worked at other hospitals before coming to St. Francis about 10 years ago. It’s just different here; there’s a spirit in the air across all of Catholic Health. We see the patient body and soul.”

Asked if she could put the Catholic Health approach into words, Morrison is quick to answer:

“Treat every patient like a member of your family. That’s what we do here.”

That level of caring and nurturing goes for the entire oncology team, according to Morrison. “Our nurses work hand in hand with our social workers, nutritionists, nurse navigators, pharmacists, lab department, chaplains and, of course, our expert doctors.” 

To nurses and clinical care providers considering a career at Catholic Health, Morrison offers this bit of encouragement: “This is where we take care of the whole patient, not just the disease. People have feelings and emotions. So our care is always coupled with human compassion. That’s the Catholic Health difference.”

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