The Embodiment of Caring and Support

"By supporting her employees, Mary Fran (as she is known to patients and colleagues) encourages and allows us to provide high-quality care that both enhances the patient’s quality of life and maintains standards of practice and patient satisfaction," wrote Shelley Fess, M.S., RN-BC, AOCN, CRNI, VA-BC, Rochester Regional Health Lipson Cancer Institute.

Mary Frances Kolbuc, B.S.N., RN-BC, OCN, is an ideal candidate for the CURE® Extraordinary Healer® Award. As an oncology nurse for more than 29 years, she embodies all the characteristics of a healer. She is compassionate, caring and involved, as well as supportive of all people she encounters — from her employees to the patients in the practice to those in her neighborhood.

By supporting her employees, Mary Fran (as she is known to patients and colleagues) encourages and allows us to provide high-quality care that both enhances the patient’s quality of life and maintains standards of practice and patient satisfaction. She leads by example, particularly in the areas of compassion and caring. Her support allows us to be the best nurses we can be in the provision of care to the patients we encounter.

Mary Fran is a true patient advocate. She often spends a great deal of time communicating with insurance providers to ensure that the treatment medications planned for a patient will be covered. If there is a lack of coverage, Mary Fran works diligently with other funding sources, such as drug manufacturers and our agency’s foundation, to provide monetary coverage and thus ease this anxiety for our patients. Mary Fran also participates and volunteers in many community activities that support our patients. These include charity golf tournaments, the Cancer Wellness Connections 5K, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night and the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, to name a few. Mary Fran will also take time to sit with patients and their families when the infusion nurses are too busy to do this. She is available via email and phone to answer questions or provide psychosocial support for our patients.

From left: Shelley Fess, M.S., RN-BC, AOCN, CRNI, CNE, VA-BC, and Mary Frances Venturelli-Kolbuc, B.S.N., RN-BC, OCN. Photos by Kelly Kester

Mary Fran takes her caring and compassion beyond the workplace and into the local community. She is very involved in her church, serving on many committees and councils. She is also active in neighborhood initiatives and organizations. This involvement is so needed, because the area is one of very low income and incredible diversity. Mary Fran plays trumpet in the neighborhood band. She keeps a basket of personal care items on her front porch so anyone can help themselves to the contents. She assists in providing meals to the needy and homeless. She advocates for area residents at city and county functions.

In her professional community, Mary Fran is a member of the national Oncology Nursing Society and the local Genesee Valley Oncology Nursing Society (GVONS). She received the GVONS annual Nurse of Distinction award in 2011. She is also a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She was recently featured in the Democrat & Chronicle report, “What Are the Next Steps After Hearing ‘You Have Cancer’?” and in this Rochester, New York, daily’s special supplement during Nurses Week in 2018. She was also included in a feature on community leaders in the Rochester Business Journal, a weekly publication.

Mary Fran is a part of the Rochester Regional Health leadership development program. Through it, she is learning about business operations, finance, management, administration and clinical

expertise and applying these principles to her role to keep the organization — and our unit —moving forward and surviving into the 21st century. This is an important avenue for nurses, who are moving from solely caregiving into the entire operation and delivery of high-quality health care.

In conclusion, I truly believe that Mary Fran is deserving of the Extraordinary Healer® Award. She provides her staff and our patients with caring, compassion and support. She collaborates with all to bring patients and their families through the cancer journey, supporting them physically, emotionally and psychosocially. She makes a difference in so many lives in numerous ways.


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