Webster, Bartolome named first Nurse of the Month honorees

Molly Webster, BSN, RN (left), and Mary Leah Bartolome, BSN, RN (right).

Day in and day out, the nurses at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center provide outstanding care to their patients, doing their best to lift spirits and make things a little brighter for people going through a difficult time.

To help recognize their extraordinary work and compassion, we have begun to honor one nurse each month for their dedication and excellent work.

Candace Johnson, PhD, President & CEO of Roswell Park, and Senior Vice President of Nursing Mary Ann Long, MS, RN, say the Nurse of the Month award was created to acknowledge nurses who “make so many contributions to our culture and our mission every day. It is an honor and a pleasure to acknowledge the dedication and compassion of our nurses, who play a vital role in the complex care our patients require.”

Molly Webster, BSN, RN, was named the first Nurse of the Month in March, and Mary Leah Bartolome, BSN, RN, is the awardee for April.

Webster has been a nurse for seven years and works in the Intensive Care Unit. She’s also following in her mother’s footsteps.

“My mom’s a nurse, and I just always saw the way she affected her patients and her patients affected her, and I thought it was a great job to have, to be able to make a difference,” she says. “I love nursing and I love bedside care.”

Webster is currently working toward her nurse practitioner license because she feels it’s important to “always strive for more and to continue my education to be better for our patients.”

It’s clear her patients are important to her and a driving factor in her work and her life.

“Every patient I meet, I try to get a little bit more of their life pre-cancer,” she says. “When they are diagnosed with cancer, I feel that that becomes who they are, unfortunately, and their diagnosis becomes their life. I work in the ICU, and a lot of times, at that point, the cancer has either progressed or they have some sort of complication that’s keeping them in the hospital for longer and with more serious issues than originally had been planned for. I just try to learn more about them, like what they were before, what did they love doing, what was their job, just trying to bring out some sort of happiness for them in a time they don’t want to be in. Nobody wants to be in that position.”

Shiloh Bromstead, BSN, RN, CCRN, Weber’s supervisor, praises Webster as being “a compassionate nurse who always advocates for her patients as well as their families. Critical care is fast-paced, and the nurses are always on their toes, often attending to more than one urgent need at a time, but Molly provides this advanced care seamlessly and safely.”

A year of change, but care remains constant

Bartolome, too, is carrying on a family tradition: Her mother and aunts are all nurses.  She worked in a rehab facility and in a clinic before joining Roswell Park in January 2020, moving to Buffalo from New York City.

“I was comfortable in my last job, but I felt like a soldier who was never deployed to the field,” she says. “I wanted to be exposed to being on the floor. That’s one of the reasons I chose Roswell — plus Roswell is a great institution and a research hospital.”

The idea of becoming a nurse is one Bartolome has had since childhood. “My mom even asked me when I was young, ‘Are you sure you want to be a nurse? I came to this country so you could do what you want.’ But I wanted to do it, and I’m proud of being a nurse.”

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Bartolome went back to the Philippines, where her mother grew up, for some of her nurse training, and she credits that experience with furthering her passion for her profession.

“I learned a lot about care and altruism there,” she says. “There were times when patients paid you in fruit. Honestly, that was one of the pivotal points in my nursing career.”

In the past year, she and her colleagues on 6 North, now 6 West, have gone through a number of changes: Shortly after Bartolome started here, the unit moved locations and became the dedicated COVID-19 unit. They also switched from caring for patients with liquid tumors to caring for those with solid tumors.

“This year has been very challenging,” she admits. “I’ve been tested emotionally, mentally and physically, and so have all of my coworkers. Everyone deserves this award for going through that.” 

Kristin Bednarz, BSN, RN, Clinical Nurse Manager for 6 West, says Bartolome has become “one of the most reliable nurses on our unit” in her year here.

“Mary Leah has a positive attitude that shines through even on the busiest and darkest of days,” she says. “For her patients, Mary Leah will go above and beyond to make sure they are comfortable and have what they need. She is a team player that is always willing to help her coworkers when needed.”