A celebrated hero: First Big Island resident earns Hawaii Healthcare Hero award

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NORTH HAWAII — Patients show their appreciation in different ways to their nurses and doctors. Often it’s flowers, cards or words of gratitude. But one patient wanted the whole state to know how much she appreciated care provided by Catherine Marquette, a family nurse practitioner at the Hamakua-Kohala Health Center.

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NORTH HAWAII — Patients show their appreciation in different ways to their nurses and doctors. Often it’s flowers, cards or words of gratitude. But one patient wanted the whole state to know how much she appreciated care provided by Catherine Marquette, a family nurse practitioner at the Hamakua-Kohala Health Center.

Marquette is one of five recipients of this year’s Hawaii Healthcare Hero award, selected from 120 nominations. The honor is provided by the Healthcare Association of Hawaii based in Honolulu.

Laupahoehoe resident Rae Therrien nominated Marquette for the award because she says she helped save her life.

“If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be alive today,” Therrien said. “In 2012, I went in to see her to inquire about genetic testing because I had two maternal aunts with ovarian cancer. Cathy immediately researched my diagnosis, which puts me at risk for multiple kinds of cancers. She became my champion in referring me to the needed specialists.”

According to Therrien, she also listened attentively, scrupulously researching her health background and symptoms, and making sure she got the right specialists right away.

“The next part of the story began in January 2013 after a strenuous hike to the top of Puu Waawaa when I discovered blood in my urine,” she said. “Cathy immediately asked me to go to the lab for two tests. No cancer cells were present in the cytology but there were still traces of blood in the urine. She said ordinarily she would just wait a bit to see if any more traces of blood showed up in a couple of weeks but since I have Lynch Syndrome, she ordered a CT scan to rule out kidney stones. Less than a week later when I saw her, she had already scheduled an appointment for me in two days to see an urologist in Honolulu. After more tests and an exploratory surgery there, it was discovered that I had cancer of the ureter, renal pelvis and part of the bladder. This type of cancer occurs in less than 1 percent of people with this syndrome.”

HAH launched the annual recognition program for health care professionals in 2014. Marquette is the only Big Island recipient to date. The five 2016 recipients were celebrated at the HAH Awards and Scholarship Gala in Honolulu.

“It’s quite humbling,” Marquette said. “I’m grateful to Rae for taking the time to nominate me. It’s made me realize we don’t say thank you enough to the people who do things for us. These relationships are what keep me coming back to the job.”

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Stacy Wong, HAH’s communications manager, commented, “We believe these are the first awards in the nation allowing people to nominate a health care professional who made a difference to themselves or a loved one. The stories showcase local Hawaii health care workers who went above and beyond to make lives better. Heroes are nominated by the public and chosen by a panel of judges from the media including radio, print and TV.”

Past neighbor island winners have come from Lanai and Kauai. The awardees receive a raku bowl designed by a Maui artist, certificates of appreciation signed by Hawaii’s Congressional delegation, two complimentary tickets to the HAH Awards and Scholarship Gala and airfare and hotel accommodations for neighbor island winners to attend the gala.

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