Spotlight on: Rhona Henry, RN, BSN, Nurse Manager, Wilmot Cancer Institute
By Lydia Fernandez
Monday, April 27, 2020 4:10 PM
Growing up in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Rhona Henry found the inspiration to become a nurse from her grandmother and great-grandmother. They were very close and she helped care for them as they got older.
When she moved to New York City and went to nursing school, she discovered her love for oncology nursing. “I chose oncology because you make a difference in the lives of the people you encounter, and there is a special connection with patients,” Henry said.
When she came to Rochester in 2009, she joined Wilmot’s Samuel E. Durand Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Unit as a staff nurse. She moved up the ladder, eventually becoming assistant nurse manager and then the unit’s nurse manager in 2015. Along the way, she continued to build those connections.
“The relationships I develop with patients keep me going, and I don’t want to give that up,” she said. So, if she isn’t in her office, you will find her on the floor helping out her staff and spending time with patients. “This is my passion. I love what I do. As a leader, it is imperative to be an advocate for patients and staff.”
During her career at Wilmot, Henry has been recognized by patients, families, and colleagues with several awards and nominations for the compassion she brings to her work.
Patients typically stay on the BMT unit three weeks, but some stay longer. They are in critical condition as their immune systems rebuild after intensive chemotherapy and stem cell or marrow transplant for blood cancers including leukemia, myeloma, or lymphoma.
“You get to know them and also their family,” she said. “The impact you have on their lives is so rewarding.”
The unit, on the sixth floor of Wilmot Cancer Center, is often at capacity. The BMT program performs between 160 and 180 transplants per year. It is the only center in the region for CAR-T infusion therapy, which she calls “the medicine of the future.”
Teamwork is at the heart of the BMT unit. As the nurse manager, Henry oversees 59 nurses, six patient care technicians, and three secretaries. They are recipients of a University of Rochester Medical Center Board Excellence Award, which recognized their commitment to high quality, excellent care, respect, accountability, and professionalism.
“Wilmot is the best place to be. I love my team, I respect my team, and I couldn’t do this without them,” Henry said. “It’s like a family. You can always count on each other. The people I work with, the people I report to, and all of the people who work at Wilmot are so supportive and dedicated to caring for our community.”