Residential Hospice Nurse
Tom Cassidy has dedicated his entire 33-year career to caring for the dying within Our Lady of Peace Residential Hospice, formerly Our Lady of Good Counsel, where he began as a nursing assistant.
During high school, Tom thought he would become an accountant, but a college accounting class his sophomore year at St. Thomas changed his mind. He headed for St. Paul TVI (now St. Paul College), and later earned an associate degree from Minneapolis Community College. After a few years of trying different jobs, Tom believes it was divine intervention that led him to Our Lady of Peace. Never thinking he was good at science, he moved forward with getting a nursing degree, feeling encouraged from his mother who died from ovarian cancer in 1984. “It suddenly hit me, like my mom was sending me a message.” Tom passed his boards in 1992 and went from nursing assistant to registered nurse at Our Lady of Good Counsel, at that time completely run by the Dominican Sisters, who he says, “were like a second family to me.”
Tom says that at first, he wasn’t sure if he could handle working with dying patients, but he learned that simply being himself and getting to know them eased his apprehension. For Tom, being himself is being dependable, and a good listener, but his colleagues also know him as a kind and compassionate caregiver. His focus on charting to keep track of symptoms and manage patient care contributes significantly to ensuring pain management and comfort.
Quality patient care is very important to Tom. “When a patient comes to our Residential Hospice, they’re given a whirlpool bath, a shampoo, and men are given a shave. They are dressed in clean clothes and put in a bed with clean, pressed sheets. This care puts families at ease, along with knowing that we’re very good at controlling pain.
Tom Cassidy says, “This is my vocation. I’m happy to be working at OLP. Sometimes it’s hard to see people pass and see the grief experienced by their family, especially when a younger person passes.” Tom feels he and his colleagues do their best to have family present at the time of passing, but if that’s not possible, the staff tries to be there. “We do our best to have someone at their side when they die, so their family knows their loved one didn’t die alone.”
What does Tom want people to know about Our Lady of Peace? “We want families to know we will do our best to provide excellent care and treat your loved one with respect and dignity. You can go to bed at night knowing that your loved one is in a good place.”
During National Nurses Month, Our Lady of Peace is proud to honor our hospice nurses, and the compassionate end-of-life care they provide to patients and their families. All OLP nurses have taken the extra step of training and certification in the care of Alzheimer’s patients. Often referred to as “midwives of the soul,” in addition to medical care, these dedicated people have a gift of love and compassion for the dying.