Cindy Latimore, AAS, RN, OCN was pursuing a career in business until she volunteered with her local fire department in Angola. Now she’s preparing to retire after a 30-year career as a nurse in the Transplant & Cellular Therapy Center at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“I was on the ambulance and became an emergency medical technician and that’s when I realized I wanted to be in medicine,” she says. “I went back to school to be a nurse. I love nursing and I’ve always loved my job.”
At the time, EMTs were able to perform some medical procedures on patients in the field, including intubating people and starting IVs, but Latimore wanted the full experience. She stopped volunteering with the service when she got married and had kids but might return in her retirement.
For the years in between, nursing and her patients have occupied most of her time and her heart. “I always want to help people get through that bad time as best as I can and make them as comfortable as I can when they’re not feeling so great,” she says. “No matter the situation, I want to make sure that person is comfortable, that they understand what’s happening and aren’t afraid. I want them to feel safe. I look at every person I take care of as a family member.”
Latimore joined Roswell Park after graduating from the nursing program at Trocaire College, even though she originally thought she might want to continue the high-paced and intense work in an emergency or intensive care unit. “I had interviews at another hospital and Roswell Park. I don’t know what made me pick here but I thought ok, that’s what I’m going to do. It sounded exciting, the blood and marrow transplants. From then on, I was very grateful that I did. I was always learning. The program has changed so much from when I started to today. It’s so different. It interests me to see therapy get better over the years. It was pretty scary compared to what it is now and I’ve seen it all the way through the changes.”
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Caring for patients and her colleagues
She credits her team – including several other nurses who have been here for a long time – for caring not just for their patients but each other. “It can be a very emotional job. You have your days when it’s hard and you go home and you cry, but my colleagues here over the years have been amazing. We all help each other out. We therapy ourselves with each other. Your team members, when you work together for so long, can see it within each other when someone is having a bad day and we need to help them out.”
"In the 30 years she’s been a member of the nursing team at Roswell Park, Latimore has been a beacon and a rock to her patients and her team," says Renee De Wald, MSN, RN, CMSRN, Clinical Nurse Manager on 5 East. “Her knowledge and skill set in a very complex patient population have made it easy for her to provide the absolute best and safe care to our patients. Her day-to-day interactions with some of our more challenging patients never seem to deter her from the very important mission of providing quality and safe care.” That’s why De Wald nominated Latimore to be Roswell Park’s Nurse of the Month for May.
“She is not only a strong advocate for our patients but to her fellow coworkers as well,” De Wald continues. “Any time a nurse on the floor needs assistance with a difficult situation, Cindy is there without complaint and with a willingness to help. She genuinely loves what she does and it shows through her enthusiasm to educate others in a way that makes them feel accomplished and competent.”
Now that she’s getting ready to retire, Latimore remains as committed to her patients as ever. “I will miss the patients, miss being with them, their stories, seeing them smile and saying thank you,” she says. “I remember when I first started, I was scared to death going home every night because I didn’t know how to end my day with them. I didn’t know what to say. I was so nervous because they couldn’t go home. But they wanted to talk, they wanted to know what’s going on out there. They need the reminder that life is going on and that’s what they’re fighting for. The patients are the ones who helped me get through that.”