“When I was doing my doctorate in microbiology, I got extremely interested in immunology, especially of leukemia and lymphoma. But after two years of pure research, I missed working with people, so I went to medical school. I wanted to help people with cancer.”
“ENERGETIC, CARING AND COMPASSIONATE”
To Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22), who nominated her to be a Local Legend of Medicine, Katherine Seibert "embodies the highest ideals of the medical profession."
To her many admiring colleagues, friends and patients throughout the underserved communities of New York's Catskill Mountains where she has lived, worked and volunteered since the late 1980s, she is simply "Dr. Kay," known for her "boundless generosity, compassion and gentle wisdom" as one associate described.
A member of the Sisters of Charity religious community for 52 years, Seibert was called early to a life of service, first as a teacher. "In those days," she recalls, "teaching and nursing were the top two choices for us, and I chose teaching because there were too many nurses." Between 1963 and 1973, she had "taught at all levels" as well as earned an M.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in Microbiology at Notre Dame University.
"It was during my Ph.D. that I got hooked on immunology, especially of leukemia and lymphoma." Seibert says. "But after a couple of years, I really missed working with people and wanted to help people with cancer. So I went to Creighton Medical School and then specialized in oncology."
By 1982, she had finished an internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, done a stint as a Clinical Associate in the Breast Cancer Section of the National Cancer Institute, and become Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, as well as Assistant Director of Oncology at St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center, in Hartford.
Tapped in 1985 by New York University to be an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine, two years later she went to Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center, in the Bronx, as Chief of Oncology. She held this post until moving to Harris in 1991 and founding the oncology program at what is now the Catskill Regional Medical Center (formerly Community General Hospital of Sullivan County).
"I had done everything I could at Our Lady of Mercy," Seibert explains. "So I went to where they had no oncologist, where women were so sick with untreated breast cancer that blood was dripping on their shoes from ulcerated sores!"
From scratch over the next nine years, "Dr. Kay" developed a fully coordinated, comprehensive regional cancer program which now achieves the highest possible accreditation by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, a rating earned by just one in five hospitals nationwide.
In recognition, on June 8, 2000, Seibert was one of only three physicians in the nation to receive that year's American Cancer Society Lane W. Adams Award for Excellence in Caring, cited for her "innovation and consistent excellence."
Said a friend and fellow doctor at the time, "Dr. Kay is a superb clinician who gives excellent care. Many patients have told me she is kind, compassionate and caring. She is most ethical, firm and unshaken in her belief that all members of our community should receive the highest quality of care and regularly speaks out on their behalf. She is truly a role model for her colleagues."
Completes three-year residency and internship in Internal Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
Becomes Chief of Oncology and Deputy Director of Medicine, Bayley Seton Hospital, Staten Island, NY
Appointed Chief of Oncology, Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center, Bronx, NY
Founds oncology program and becomes Chief of Oncology, Catskill Regional Medical Center (formerly Community General Hospital of Sullivan County)
Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, NB
Oncology and Microbiology