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Brenda Finn-Cochran, 59; nurse went above and beyond


As a longtime charge nurse and recently a nurse practitioner, Brenda Finn-Cochran made certain that nothing got in the way of her patients receiving the medical care they needed.

"She turned no one away," said Helen Costa, a longtime friend and a former co-worker. "Whether they had money or not, she treated them. She was in the office all day. If someone called sick, they were seen then. There was no waiting."

Mrs. Finn-Cochran was a charge nurse at Carney Hospital for two decades and then a nurse practitioner at Wollaston Medical Associates for seven years. She died Sunday at Quincy Medical Center after a 2 1/2-month battle with brain cancer. She was 59.

Born in Quincy to Muriel of Quincy and the late Edward Finn, who were nursing home owners, Mrs. Finn-Cochran became accustomed to helping patients and providing personal care at an early age.

After she graduated from Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree, she earned a degree as a registered nurse from Boston University.

In 1969, Mrs. Finn-Cochran began her career at Carney Hospital, which is part of the Caritas Christi Health Care system, where was often the head nurse on Saturday nights, earning the professional admiration of the emergency physician.

That physician, Dr. Newton Cochran of Quincy, became her husband years later.

"I remember her standing there calmly, as those around her were fainting on the floor," Dr. Cochran said. "Brenda would just keep very calm in the midst of it all, bringing order in what would seem to be chaos."

Dr. Cochran left the hospital to start a private practice. The two met again in the late 1980s after he had gone through a divorce and she had lost her husband to cancer.

In 1989, they married, and Mrs. Finn-Cochran left the hospital to work in his practice. Soon afterward, she decided to go back to school to become a certified nurse practitioner, taking classes for nearly a decade and earning a master's degree from Northeastern University in 2000.

As a nurse practitioner, friends and colleagues said, Mrs. Finn-Cochran continued her generous standard of providing personal care and attention.

She treated uninsured patients without asking for payment and provided rides for elderly patients who needed help getting home after appointments, Costa said.

"People were not numbers to her," she said. "She was a wonderful, wonderful person. She treated everyone with dignity."

Mrs. Finn-Cochran joined the Hospice of Boston board of directors in 1994, when the nonprofit organization was in debt and there were concerns about its future, board president Martin F. Connolly said.

"She was able to help the board become financially viable," he said. "She was always the voice of reason and a voice that could emphasize what the patients were going through, as well as the business side of it."

Ruth Capernaros, president and chief executive of Hospice of Boston, said Mrs. Finn-Cochran often helped explain difficult medical or insurance changes to lay members of the board when decisions needed to be made, keeping the focus on patient needs.

"She believed in the hospice philosophy of not only treating the patient but the entire family," Capernaros said. "Patient-family issues always came before corporation or the bottom line."

Mrs. Finn-Cochran, a devout Catholic, also gave generously to several religious charities, taking a special interest in giving to AIDS orphans in Africa, her husband said.

A regular jogger and a proud grandmother, Mrs. Finn-Cochran enjoyed trips with her husband to Europe. Last year they visited holy shrines in Italy.

Ultimately, Cochran said his wife loved her work.

"Many of my patients I've had for 30 years have said, 'I love you, but I just love to see Brenda,' " Cochran said. "She was highly skilled in working therapeutically with people, physically as well as being emotionally supportive. She was a ray of sunshine."

In addition to her husband and mother, Mrs. Finn-Cochran leaves two daughters Meredith Craig and Shannon Massarelli, both of Quincy; three stepdaughters, Minette Donovan of Milton, Noelle Spear of Quincy, and Rachel Cantela of Brooklyn, N.Y.; a stepson, Newton Cochran of Randolph; a sister, Gail Minassian of Norton; three granddaughters; and three grandsons.

A funeral Mass will be said 10 a.m. today in St. Ann's Church in Wollaston. Burial will follow in Blue Hill Cemetery in Braintree.