After a 30-year career as a renal nurse, including 25 years at St. Paul’s Hospital, Maureen Donnelly passed away in February 2011, from complications related to pneumonia.
She was ill for eight months prior to her death at the age of 55.
Maureen began her nursing career at Vancouver General Hospital in the early 1980s, where she received her training in renal care. In an early and adventurous career move, she spent almost a year as a renal nurse in Saudi Arabia, before returning to Vancouver and taking a position as a renal staff nurse at St. Paul’s.
For the past ten years, Maureen was patient coordinator for St. Paul’s renal program. Amongst staff she was known as a very strong advocate for patients and, according to one colleague, represented “the moral consciousness” of the hospital’s renal program.
“She was a very gentle soul,” says St. Paul’s vascular access nurse, Rick Luscombe, who worked with Maureen for 21 years. “If I were sick, I’d certainly have wanted Maureen to look after me.”
“She was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known,” says Laddie Frank, clinical nurse leader at St. Paul’s hemodialysis unit and a friend of Maureen’s from their earliest days of nursing at VGH.
“She always had a kind word for everybody and always gave people the benefit of the doubt,” says Laddie.
Maureen was raised as a Roman Catholic and maintained a strong religious faith throughout her life. She loved music and singing and going to the opera. She also had a strong affection for dogs, and provided a home to several through her life.
Family was extremely important to Maureen, and although she had no children of her own, she was very proud of her nine nieces and nephews. She was also a proud sister of brothers Lawrence, a Catholic priest, and Mark – well known locally as the singer of the national anthem for the Vancouver Canucks’ home games.
Maureen was also a loving wife to her husband Wayne, and showed her great capacity for forgiveness by occasionally recounting to her workmates the story of when Wayne accidentally sat on their pet budgie. Maureen is fondly remembered by the many colleagues she worked with and the many patients she cared for over the course of her long career.