Scholarship to honor COVID-19 frontlines nurse
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Known for her trauma course
Kevin Kissane met Joan Duda when they were both working as nurses at Rush Hospital. There was no romance at first. At the time, Kissane was married with four daughters.
After his first wife died from breast cancer in 2004, they reconnected when Joan Duda took a CPR recertification course being led by Kissane. They were married in 2010.
Kissane says after they began dating, he was quickly recruited to assist his future wife in the trauma nurse specialist course that she coordinated each fall. It was a requirement for working in a trauma unit, and she would lecture and organize trainings with trauma surgeons and other specialists for nurses around the Chicago area.
“I was impressed that she had contacts with other trauma centers in the city, in the suburbs, and frequent meetings with trauma nurse coordinators,” he says. “They used Joan a lot as a resource for their courses. Joan kept extensive records on all her students and would remind them when they were due to take the test again.”
A DAISY award recipient, Joan Duda combined her love of trauma education and world travel. She lectured in Germany, St. Petersburg, Russia, Ireland and Ecuador.
Outpouring of grief
When Joan Duda was hospitalized with COVID-19, Kissane recalls that more than 60 people joined a prayer marathon for her over Zoom.
“That was the beginning of the realization about how much she would be missed,” he says.
After she died, St. Anthony dedicated a garden to Joan Duda and held a memorial in her honor. Memorials were also held at the Irish American Heritage Center and in Rush Hospital’s Healing Garden.
“When she passed, the outpouring of professional grieving touched me,” Kissane says. “The number of nurses that were doing impassioned memorials to her was very impressive. She was unpretentious, but when she died, the doctors and nurses, the whole trauma community showed up.”
Name lives on
Jane Duda says she and her sister had to pay for their education at UIC Nursing on their own, and she hopes the scholarship now bearing her sister’s name will help future nurses get educated and go on to have successful nursing careers, just like the Duda sisters.
Kissane adds that he hopes scholarship beneficiaries, “pay it forward by contributing to society as professional nurses themselves.”
“I’m a nurse myself, and I appreciate nurses and nursing,” Kissane says. “I think it’s underappreciated in our culture. I think Joan would like to know that her name would live on in nursing.”