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Catherine LaPier, RN Never Wastes An Opportunity to Help

Adirondack Medical Home Care Manager Helps Patient One Last Time

When Catherine LaPier, RN dreamt about a career in health care as a 16 year-old nurse aide, it was a sure bet that arranging a patient’s funeral was not part of the plan. Yet that’s exactly what she found herself doing years later as an Adirondack Medical Home Care Manager. 

“I initially considered becoming a pharmacist but eventually decided on nursing,” explained Catherine, who, like many in her profession, became a nurse to help people in their time of need. In this particular instance, the patient’s time of need was rather atypical.

The patient had been ill for some time and together he and Catherine had worked through many challenges. “At the end of his life, there was no family to care for him and after he passed away, no one to make his final arrangements,” Catherine explained.  “He was somebody and he deserved a proper burial.”

So, she began to reach out and help her patient, one last time.

Embedded in primary care physician offices, Medical Home Care Managers are charged with making sure patients have what they need to stay well.   Matching patient needs with appropriate services as well as assisting with coordinating and offering support are just some of the duties of a care manager.  They play an important role in the changing dynamic of health care – one that keeps patients at the center of all services while focusing on wellness and prevention.

Catherine’s been a part of the CVPH team for 13 years.  She’s been in her current role for 1.5 years and prior to that  worked as a bedside nurse in Progressive Care, on the Short Stay Unit as well as at the Wound Care Center.

“At the bedside, you are used to having what you need to care for your patient within arm’s reach. Now, I have to reach out a bit more and think differently,” she explained.  Teamwork and patient-centered care, however, remain key components of her daily responsibilities.

 “Lots of people and agencies like Clinton County Social Services, CVPH Palliative Care, Walker Funeral Home, the Press Republican, Val Haven Home and Fr. William Reamer came together to be sure this man received a proper burial,” she said. “He had a Roman Catholic graveside service and flowers and was buried locally with a headstone, thanks to so many.”

This kind of support doesn’t surprise Catherine.  It was a sense of community spirit that brought her home after leaving the North Country as a graduate nurse.  With her Clinton Community College nursing degree in hand, she left the area to begin her career at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany.  After a few years, the decision to return was an easy one. “My husband and I missed our family and this community. There is something about knowing everyone and having people know you.” 

While Catherine admits that funeral planning was not something she thought about all those years ago as a teenager, she knew that making a difference was important to her even then. Reflecting on this experience, she offered this quote she read online.  “You were born with the ability to change someone’s life; don’t every waste it.”  In helping a patient leave this world with dignity, Catherine took that sentiment one step further.