There are so many unknowns for patients who receive a cancer diagnosis, but one thing they can count on is that Catherine Benedict, BSN, RN, OCN, of Hematology/Oncology will devote herself to their physical, emotional and spiritual care, going above and beyond to support them in any way she can. She understands patients “on a level deeper than their clinical picture,” say her colleagues on Braunwald Tower 7A who nominated her for the Essence of Nursing Award.
“When Cathy talks about a patient’s care, she is sure to include details like what foods they enjoy, their support systems and even what times during the shift they like to do their ADLs (activities of daily living) or take certain medications,” wrote her nominators, Anastasia MacMillan, BSN, RN, and Sarah Curran, BSN, RN. “Cathy is known to arrive early, get report on all of her patients and begin rounding on each one of them. During this time, she will often pull up a seat and have a conversation that is not only about physical concerns, but also how they are coping emotionally.”
How Benedict helps patients cope depends on their individual needs. It was important for one patient to wear their own clothes, not only for comfort, but also to retain a sense of self. The patient did not have family nearby, so Benedict took the patient’s clothes home each week to wash them so the patient could wear them again. For another patient who was deeply anxious, it meant motivating the patient to complete physical and occupational therapy exercises and instilling hope of regaining certain abilities.
“Cathy provided the emotional support the patient needed with endless encouragement to participate in the plan of care,” said Kayla Kallinich, MSN, RN, OCN.
Benedict is also known as a supportive colleague who is always willing to answer questions, problem-solve and share her expertise.
“Cathy seeks out new and innovative ways to expand her skills and perspective, both personally and professionally,” said Elizabeth Toomey, MSN, RN, NE-BC, nursing director . “She brings a spirit of inquiry and humility to all interactions and is truly a role model for all nurses within the oncology service.”
Benedict participates in quality improvement initiatives to enhance the care of cancer patients at the Brigham and beyond, sharing her work via posters and presentations inside and outside of the hospital.
She joined the Brigham in 1994 as a nurse-in-charge for oncology units and began in her current role in 2010. Outside of the hospital, she is active in her church and served as church school director for 16 years, planning community programs such as a Bible camp and meals for those in need. She currently volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club of America in Marshfield.
Benedict earned her BSN from St. Joseph’s College.
Nominated by Anastasia MacMillan, BSN, RN, and Sarah Curran, BSN, RN, with letters of support from Elizabeth Toomey, MSN, RN, NE-BC, nursing director, and Kayla Kallinich, MSN, RN, OCN