Mary Catherine Kennedy MS RN MS CNS ACNP is a Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing at D’Youville College in The School of Nursing. She has been a Registered Professional Nurse for over 50 years. She has had vast experiences in the Emergency Room while studying to be an RN, and as Medical Surgical Nurse, Charge Nurse, Public Health Nurse, Cardiac Rehab Nurse, Cardio-Pulmonary Clinical Nurse Specialist and at various teaching positions for Nursing Assistants, Health Assistants, LPN Students and RN Students.
Mary Catherine was a Cardio-Pulmonary Clinical Nurse Specialist at Buffalo General Hospital for nearly 30 years prior to her present position as a Clinical Associate Professor at D’Youville College.
Mary Catherine obtained certification from Gunderson Health System in LaCrosse, Wisconsin to become a Respecting Choices and Advance Care Planning Facilitator and Advance Care Planning Instructor in June, 2013. She currently maintains this certification.
Mary Catherine is a Faith Community Nurse/Parish Nurse, having completed course work for certification in November 2013.
Mary Catherine and Denise Dunford DNP, FNP-BC, APRN (Chair of the Graduate/Doctoral Nursing Program at D’Youville College) presented to Dr. Katie Grimm and members of the ECMC staff on Respecting Choices and Advance Care Planning during two sessions in 2015. The ECMC staff took it forward in developing the successful Conversation Project in Western New York.
Mary Catherine’s D’Youville College junior nursing students who attend clinical at ECMC have participated and benefited from the Conversation Project presentations by Dr. Grimm and her team. Their team has presented to three groups of D’Youville College junior nursing students each semester over the past several years where they have discussed concerns and received their health care proxy forms. Further discussion of the importance of completing the HCP forms occurred at post conference reflection and review. Many of the students have already completed the HCP forms.
Mary Catherine and Dr. Dunford have spoken on Advance Care Planning (ACP) and the importance of starting the Conversation, honoring the person’s wishes, at various faith sites and to the graduate and doctoral nursing students since 2015. They gave a presentation on ACP to members of the Western New York Professional Nurses Association in March 2016. They spoke to the faculty and staff at D’Youville on Staff Development day regarding ACP in 2016.
Most recently they presented on the importance of ACP, having the Conversation, honoring the person’s wishes, and the importance of completion of HCP forms to parishioners at St. Martin of Tours Parish in South Buffalo at 4 liturgies on September 10 and September 11, 2018. Notices were in the church bulletin for several weeks prior to the event. They were also available with materials and with HCP forms after the liturgies.
They also presented a talk on the importance of HCP and assisted those present at a parish presentation on Cemetery Matters on November 14, 2018 at St. Martin of Tours Parish. Many people present at the sessions took copies of the HCP forms and additional related literature. During three days of the presentations well over 300 HCP forms were distributed. Many questions were answered and many concerns were addressed.
To begin the Conversation to find out what is important for our loved ones at end of life is very difficult for so many. The topic is no one’s favorite, but to have it, puts everyone at ease and at peace. It can be done over several meetings, days or weeks, if necessary. But the important task is beginning the Conversation and making wishes known so the HCP can be completed. Honoring the person’s wishes for end of life is so very important.
It is something so many say: “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I’ll do it next week” or “I don’t need to do it now” or “I don’t want to talk about it.”
The challenge we have is listening, encouraging, suggesting, reminding and being there for those we care about and care for, to help them, answer questions and assist them in this process.
It is very sad for patients and their families when the Conversation has not occurred, wishes are not made known and the HCP is not completed, when they are very near end of life. So many patient and family struggles and unnecessary heartaches have occurred because of this.
The present challenge for each of us is to be an example, to have the Conversation, make our wishes known and complete the HCP form. The time for dialogue and completion of the HCP form is now. It is the most important thing that you and your family must do now!
Remember, “It is never too early, until it is too late”.