Meet Cathy McWhinnie

Cathy is a Registered Nurse (RN) who works at Revera Home Health Windsor-Essex, a homecare agency whose employees recently voted to join SEIU Healthcare in February 2015. She specializes in palliative oncology. It’s her job to manage her client’s symptoms as much as possible.

“The job is usually very busy. I generally see nine to 10 patients a day, and sometimes, as many as 18 patients in one day.”

Cathy’s job can be very demanding, especially when she is dealing with patients who are suffering from a wide variety of symptoms. 

“Sometimes I feel like I am an emergency room on wheels. You have to know how to drain someone’s lung. You have to know how to remove fluid from the abdominal area. You have to provide port care, initiate IVs, give IV meds, handle pain control pumps, stop chemotherapy pumps, and so much more. We are not just one floor in a hospital that manages one part of the body. We are Jacks-of-all-trades.”

Many people believe palliative care is not an easy area to work in. Caring for someone who is deteriorating and at the end of their lives can be difficult for many people to experience.

“Sometimes it can be a tough job watching a person’s health fade. Sometimes I see clients with only months, weeks and sometimes days left to live. They experience pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, dehydration and other painful symptoms. I do my best to alleviate their symptoms as much as possible before they die. That allows them to die as peacefully as they can.”

And just like thousands of RPNs across Ontario, Cathy has seen her scope of practice as an RN increase over the past few years.

“You learn something new every day. I learn about new medications and new ways to manage people’s symptoms. I keep on educating myself. If there is a course, I enroll in it and keep on learning. I do this all on my own. As a nurse, I am a lifelong learner.”

At the end of the day Cathy loves her job and the care she provides for her clients.

“I enjoy being a nurse because of the experiences I get, interacting with clients, getting to know who they are and what their lives are like. I just love being a nurse, bottom line. Nursing is my calling, not a job.”

Learn more about nurses during Nursing Week and the contributions they make to our healthcare system.


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