The Brigham community mourns the loss of Laura Judge, MSN, BSN, RN, a nurse practitioner in the Renal Medicine Ambulatory Clinic, who died on July 22 of cancer. She was 61 years old.
A member of the Brigham community for nearly 40 years, Mrs. Judge spent most of her career in the Dialysis Unit, which she joined in 1983 and remained for almost three decades. She moved to the Renal Clinic in 2011 while pursuing her master’s degree at Regis College to become a nurse practitioner.
Remembered for her exceptional warmth, thoughtfulness and deep expertise as a dialysis nurse, Mrs. Judge cared for her patients with tenderness and compassion. Colleagues recalled her unwavering advocacy for the safety, comfort and dignity of those in her care, as well as her commitment to ensuring patients and families understood their care plans.
“Laura had a tremendous heart. With her patients, she was kind but also clear-sighted, with good judgment and a sure sense of what mattered most. When she thought something was not right, she stood up,” said Julian Seifter, MD, a senior nephrologist in the Division of Renal Medicine who first met Mrs. Judge in 1982. “She was a remarkable educator for patients and their families as they came up against the most difficult decisions in their lives. She shared her wealth of experience and had deep reserves of empathy.”
Mrs. Judge’s daughter, Amanda Judge, RN, a nurse in the Cardiac Surgery Stepdown Unit, said her mother embodied the heart and soul of nursing — an example that continues to inspire her own practice.
“All of her colleagues, family and friends have countless experiences of her extending her nursing practice well beyond her patients. She didn’t just help; she educated and empowered her entire circle,” Amanda said. “My mum gave birth to me at the Brigham, counseled me through the trials of being a new nurse at the Brigham and received all her cancer care at the Brigham. I plan to rival her lifelong career with my own — striving to live up to her noble and purest brand of nursing. I will think of her every shift.”
In caring for those with chronic kidney disease who routinely returned for dialysis, Mrs. Judge forged longstanding and trusting relationships with her patients.
“Her patients loved her and asked about her all the time,” said nephrologist Gearoid McMahon, MB, BCh, who worked alongside Mrs. Judge in the Renal Clinic. “She was often the first to really talk to someone about the transition to dialysis, and her long experience as a dialysis nurse meant that she was able to help them in that transition. She was always thinking about how to improve patient care delivery.”
Mrs. Judge was one of the key nurses driving an initiative to improve hepatitis B vaccination rates among patients with advanced chronic kidney disease, with the goal of enabling them to develop immunity before progressing to end-stage kidney disease. McMahon and Mallika Mendu, MD, MBA, nephrologist and director of Quality for Renal Medicine, hope to publish a paper about the project in her honor.
She was also tenacious about ensuring care quality and patient safety were always prioritized. While training as a fellow on the Dialysis Unit, David Mount, MD, associate chief and clinical chief of Renal Medicine and director of Dialysis Services, recalled how Mrs. Judge quickly intervened one day when she saw a trainee pay insufficient attention to a patient’s discomfort during a dialysis line placement.
“She was a strong but gentle patient advocate,” Mount said. “After her passing, I heard from multiple generations of renal fellows, stretching back 30 years, for whom she had been a very special part of their nephrology training at BWH.”
Mrs. Judge was equally supportive of her colleagues, generously giving her time, attention and mentorship whenever it was needed. Joy Taylor, RN, a former Dialysis Unit nurse-in-charge and close friend of Mrs. Judge for more than 30 years, reflected on how Mrs. Judge never hesitated to help whomever she could.
“As a nurse, she went above and beyond not only with every patient and family who had the pleasure of meeting her, but she was also a mentor to students, new dialysis nurses, renal fellows and anyone else whom she could teach,” Taylor said. “She was an amazing person who touched the lives of many. She made everyone feel special. It was a gift that she had.”
Jayne Wheeler, MSN, RN, remembered being trained by Mrs. Judge upon joining the Dialysis Unit in 2001. The two became fast friends.
“Laura was a patient, kind and an expert dialysis nurse. She was a beautiful person inside and out, and she had such a deep love for her husband and children,” Wheeler said. “We had a lot in common, as we had young children at the time and talked about the kids a lot.”
Mendu also recalled Mrs. Judge as a caring and beloved colleague and mentor.
“Laura has a special place in my heart,” Mendu said. “She provided me with guidance as a new mom coming back from maternity leave and navigating motherhood and work. I’ll never forget her words of encouragement and advice that really helped me during some tough times.”
Gail Appling, practice secretary in the Dialysis Unit who worked with Mrs. Judge for 15 years, remembered her beloved friend and colleague’s authenticity, kindness and enthusiasm for helping others.
“Laura cared for everyone, always giving of herself to help others,” Appling said. “My car got totaled one winter, and when Laura found out I was without a car, every day that she was scheduled to work she would pick me up and bring me to work and even dropped me off at home if we were leaving at the same time. She was truly a gem who cared for all of us — family, friends, co-workers and patients. She will truly be missed.”
Mrs. Judge is survived by her husband, Paul; their daughter, Amanda; and son, Brian.