Sunday, September 21, 2014

The world lost of one its true angels this week with the death of Katherine McQuade Toig, RN.  Katie was a beacon of light to all who knew her.

We first met when she was a nurse in training at BIDMC.  She was always dropping by my CEO office with questions and ideas. As a colleague said, "She wanted to save the world."  In so doing, she constantly questioned her role and her place and was searching for the best way she could serve humanity.

Here's an excerpt from a blog she wrote while on a volunteer mission in Kenya, which inspired her to remain involved in that region:

I am uncomfortable. My senses did their job in Kenya. They collected sights, sounds and information for me to wrestle with. My mind will not be the same. Old beliefs and realities cannot accommodate the new information. The process of reconciliation is not tidy. It won’t work for me to come to simple explanations and conclusions. I will need to sit in the dissonance for a while and build new constructs of thought. 

I will continue to collaborate with Tatua. My energy will be aimed at empowering and supporting the Community Health Workers in the slums of Ngong, Ngando and Rongi. It isn't enough to provide mission work to the slums. The solution has to grow from within. The CHWs are uniquely positioned as access points to healthcare. My mind can rest on this. 

A new chapter begins for me here with the CHWs.  

Little did I know that Katie would help me heal after a difficult period I had in the hospital.  Here's how she responded to an email I sent to the staff apologizing for my bad judgment:

"I am moved by your letter and want to thank you for all your work. As for any transgressions you may have had, I feel you are only human and we all make mistakes. As I’m sure you know, it is how we handle them that makes us who we are."

Wisdom beyond her years.  Compassion and empathy that set an example for all who knew her. Deep sadness for all who will now miss her.


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