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When Life and Death Embrace

Mary Murphy, '89 M.S.N. Clinical Nurse Specialist

mary murphyAngels are everywhere in the cramped East Dayton bedroom. A hospital bed, its quilt soft from washings, plump with ruffle-edged pillows, is tucked in the corner.

It is Mary Murphy’s second home visit of the day. She greets this cancer patient, known only from previous telephone consults, like long-lost family. Mary is there to see if the 25 prescription medicines on the night table are doing their job, to schedule a massage therapist to help with the pain, to check a chemo port, take a temperature, answer a spouse’s question, hold a hand. To nurse.

Mary Murphy, R.N., M.S., AOCN, CHPN, clinical nurse specialist, came to Hospice of Dayton 16 years ago after 20 years on the oncology unit of a local hospital. She is a small, take-charge woman, organized and intuitive, with a sense of humor and a respect for life. As director of Focused Care, she coordinates a team that may include, in addition to the oncologist and primary care physician, a respiratory therapist, social worker, bereavement specialist, massage therapist, art or music therapist, an R.N. case manager, and volunteers.

“If you are extremely passionate about one area of nursing and you have the drive to seek the knowledge, and if you want to become the expert in that field, then you become an advanced practice nurse,” said Murphy. As director of the Focused Care Team, a team of skilled nurses with extensive clinical expertise, Murphy manages delivery of specific individualized end-of-life care for Hospice patients. “In my work, I stay within my focus of expertise, yet I have interactions with other experts in a very interdisciplinary way. And I walk the path with my patients as they determine their life’s closure. It’s an honor to do what I do.”