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Meet Chief Angel Cathy

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St. Luke’s Home Care nurse reflects on her 30 years of service

In the spring of 1991, Cathy Bianchet was ready for a change. She had been a St. Luke’s neurosurgery nurse for nine years. At the time, she was working overnight hours but wanted a position that would allow her to spend more time with her young daughter. Then, there was an opening at St. Luke’s Home Care. Cathy didn’t hesitate to apply.

When she got the job, she was thrilled. She felt well-grounded as a nurse and was looking forward to learning more. However, it wasn’t long before she realized that even with her years of experience, she had a lot more to learn than expected.

“Being a Home Care nurse is really challenging,” Cathy said. “You have to think quickly on your feet, know a lot about a lot and always be learning more. But that’s what makes it such a fun job. I think it’s the best nursing position you can get.” However, learning to be confident in the role took a little getting used to.

Rising to the challenge
“When I started, I was pretty overwhelmed,” said Cathy. “You have to retain a lot of knowledge and you’re out there on your own. In the hospital you have an IV team, but as a home care nurse you have to start all your own IVs. You don’t have a dedicated ostomy nurse to change ostomies for you. There are so many things like that. But, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually I pushed through.”

A few months in, and Cathy was starting to find her stride. Then, that October Duluth was faced with a massive blizzard. While most people stayed home from work due to the weather, Cathy didn’t have that option. She had patients to care for.

“My husband helped me make my rounds with his truck,” she said. “I set up an IV for a patient with hyperemesis. Another was dying and needed morphine injections. In Two Harbors a patient needed antibiotics, but was snowed in. We actually had to arrange for someone to pick up the medication on a snowmobile for them! It was really trial by fire, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.”

The best part of the job
Nearing her retirement thirty years later, Cathy still deeply enjoys her work. And, according to her, the best part is the wide range of people she gets to help.

As a five-star agency for patient experience, St. Luke’s Home Care provides the most-comprehensive home care services in the region. That includes home specialty infusion services, physical, occupational and speech therapy, medication management, complex wound care, pain management, personal care, medical social services, nutritional counseling and more. Palliative care is also available for those who have serious or chronic illnesses.

“Our patients are so appreciative of us,” she said. “Someone I was recently taking care of even liked to call me ‘Chief Angel Cathy!’ It’s really rewarding work.”

Home care services at St. Luke’s
In a little over year, Cathy plans to retire. She will have been a nurse for 40 years. “I’m looking forward to golfing and spending more time with my family at the cabin,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll miss the work, but most of all I’ll miss the people – both my patients and all my amazing coworkers.”

St. Luke’s Home Care is available to those in portions of St. Louis, Carlton and Lake counties in Minnesota. In Wisconsin, portions of Douglas and Bayfield counties are served. Services are often covered through Medicare, Medicaid, a health care plan or private insurance.

“We’re happy to meet people where they’re at and help them reach their health goals,” said Cathy. “We’re a busy bunch, but there’s always room for us to care for more.”

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This article was published in the June issue of The Woman Today magazine.