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Patricia Barszcz, orthopedic nurse practitioner ; March 24, 1947 -- June 18, 2010

Patricia Barszcz of East Amherst, who was an orthopedic nurse practitioner at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, died Friday at the hospital where she worked after an 11-year battle with breast cancer. She was 63.

Mrs. Barszcz was born Patricia Fitzgerald in New York City. She became a registered nurse through St. Vincent's School of Nursing in 1968. After moving to Western New York in 1984, Mrs. Barszcz went back to school to earn her bachelor's degree in nursing from the University at Buffalo. She graduated magna cum laude. She earned her master's degree from UB in 1996.

Mrs. Barszcz was passionate about nursing.

In 1989, she was awarded the American Red Cross's Certificate of Merit for saving the life of a World War II veteran who was a patient in the Home Care program of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

She later became the first orthopedic nurse practitioner at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital.

"There's no greater reward than having a patient smile and say 'Thank you,' " she was quoted as saying in receiving Kaleida Health's Nurse of Distinction Award in 1999. "My patients have been my best teachers."

That same year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She faced the disease head on, becoming one of the original members of the Hope Chest Dragon Boat Team made up of women battling breast cancer. She continued to work until two weeks before her death.

Mrs. Barszcz is survived by her husband, Michael, with whom she celebrated their 41st anniversary just 10 days before her passing. She is also survived by a daughter, Katie Esposito; two sons, Michael III and Douglas; her mother, Josephine Fitzgerald; two sisters, Joy Fitzgerald and Anne Podlovits; and brothers, John, Joe and Peter Fitzgerald.

A funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Mary's Catholic Church, 6919 Transit Road, Swormville.

[BECKER]

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