Featuring- Dr. Mary Fanning

A feature article on our FONWV Operations Team Leader, Dr. Mary Fanning

COVID-19 Leadership Profile – Mary Fanning, DNP, RN, FRE, NEA-BC, Assistant Vice President and Associate Chief Nursing Officer

It was February, and Mary Fanning, assistant vice president and associate chief nursing officer, was reflecting on a successful Magnet® re-designation visit, and looking forward to finalizing the launch of a new workplace violence program for J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital and serving as a chaperone for four WVU School of Nursing students on a 10-day trip to Japan.

Then came March, and then came the COVID-19 pandemic. News of a Magnet® re-designation (it would be the fourth for WVU Medicine-WVU Hospitals since 2005) and the workplace violence program were put on hold, and the trip to Japan was canceled.

“My work focus and responsibilities quickly changed the first week of March,” Dr. Fanning said.

But in many ways, not much had changed as far as the need for Fanning’s leadership. WVU Medicine quickly turned to her for help as the threat of COVID-19 grew. She was asked to support the incident command center at Ruby, where she also serves as a liaison to incident command for the WVU Health System.

“Having worked the majority of my career in nursing support roles and holding a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Nursing Administration has provided me with the skill set to support a variety of initiatives driven by the incident command team,” she said.

Her roles have varied widely throughout the pandemic, emphasizing the depth of her experience. As a former medical ICU nurse, physician leadership sought her opinion and support on personal protective equipment (PPE), education on appropriate mask selection, and clinical staffing plans.

She helped establish a system-wide workforce management system to best allocate personnel, a housing program for clinical staff who were on the front lines, and designed the clinical aspect of the drive-through swab tent for virus testing. She also supported the building access team, which enacted new policies to help curb the spread of the virus, and assisted with events to recognize direct care providers.

But Fanning is quick to point out she didn’t do it alone.

“All of these initiatives required tapping into the expertise of leaders throughout the organization and system, incorporating their suggestions into workflow, and adjusting practices for best patient care,” she said. “Communicating new process and practices to the masses, both within the system and externally, as well as rapidly making needed changes, was a daily challenge.”

Now, Fanning says, the focus of her efforts have moved to a recovery phase, which includes further advising on building access, masks and the swab tent while also preparing educational tools to encourage the returning workforce to wear masks and maintain social distance. She will also help integrate students back into the clinical setting, and will serve as a co-Investigator for a research study investigating antibody testing in healthcare workers.

One of her most gratifying experiences during the crisis has been helping to develop Park and Pray, a public recognition event for staff and first responders staged in front of Ruby. It’s happening this evening.

“The organization has so many departments and unsung heroes that work tirelessly behind the scenes on a daily basis to assure the safety and security of our patients, visitors, and staff,” she said. “It has been an honor and privilege to work with and learn from so many of these amazing leaders beyond nursing.”

(excerpted from WVU Medicine Newsletter)

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