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Meet cardiac nurse Rich Kendra, RN - It's National Nurses Week

May 11, 2016
Nurses Week 2016

Rich Kendra, RN of Chicopee, is the eyes and ears of his patients in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Baystate Medical Center.

“I like to refer to myself as an advocate for my patients,” said Kendra about his patient care role at the hospital.

While a patient undergoes a cardiac cath procedure – where a long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is placed into a major artery, usually through the groin, but also in the arm or neck, and threaded to the heart by the cardiologist, to make a diagnosis or treatment on the heart - Kendra is responsible for assessing him or her during the procedure. That means  closely monitoring their vital signs, which can fluctuate, such as drops in blood pressure or decreased ability to breath effectively, which may require immediate intervention such as administering medications or airway assistance.

Kendra attended Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and graduated in 1994 with an associate’s degree in Nursing. He has maintained his CCRN certification for over 12 years. Now he has returned to the classroom at Elms College to earn his bachelor’s degree in Nursing.

A career of helping others

A 20-year Baystate employee, Kendra has devoted his career to helping others, first on a telemetry unit, then in the hospital’s Emergency Department, finally transferring to the Cardiac Cath Lab in 2002.

“I love direct patient care and the personal contact it offers, finding out where people are from and what they do or have done makes my job interesting. You meet some really great people,” he said.

During National Nurses Week, May 6-12, nurses around the country like Kendra, including others at Baystate Health facilities throughout the area, are being honored for the important role they play in delivering the highest level of safe, quality care to their patients. Today’s nearly 3.4 million registered nurses in the United States constitute our nation’s largest health care profession. Nurses practice in diverse roles, such as clinicians, administrators, researchers, educators and policymakers.

“There is a certain acuity to the patients that we see and I love the challenges they present with. I also like the fact that I am involved in a variety of different procedures in the lab from diagnostic catheterizations to emergent procedures such as treating heart attacks or acute strokes," said Kendra.

A special thank you

“During National Nurses Week, we extend a special thank you to all of our nurses as they continue to deliver a higher state of caring to their patients. These talented registered nurses deserve special recognition for their efforts in delivering compassionate care, while encompassing the principles of safety and quality so ingrained in the nursing profession,” said Nancy Shendell-Falik, RN, MA, president of Baystate Medical Center and senior vice president for Hospital Operations.

Sponsored by the American Nurses Association, National Nurses Week has as its 2016 theme, “Culture of Safety – It starts with You,” recognizing registered nurses as an indispensable component of the safety and quality of care of hospitalized patients.

When asked what his most rewarding experience in health care has been to date, Kendra said there was no one specific event.

“It’s all about helping people, seeing them get better, and knowing that you’re making a difference by improving the quality of their lives,” said Kendra.

Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence

Baystate Medical Center’s high quality nursing care earned its third designation in a row as a Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence – one of only nine hospitals in Massachusetts – a distinction that places the hospital’s nursing staff among the finest in the nation. Nationally, only about 7% of all health care organizations carry this prestigious Magnet designation.

For more information on Baystate Medical Center, visit