Super SHEro - Marcy Wychulis O’Connell, BSN, BA, RN, PCN, '89

Super SHEro - Marcy Wychulis O’Connell, BSN, BA, RN, PCN, '89

Marcy (Wychulis) O’Connell, BSN, BA, RN, PCN, MSDA Class of 1989, is a Registered Nurse at Virtua Voorhees Hospital in Voorhees, New Jersey. Marcy started her career at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she worked as a Pediatric ICU Nurse on the 55+ bed unit for 11 years, caring for the sickest children including trauma patients, transplant patients, oncology patients and even those that required ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), which is a treatment that provides heart-lung bypass support outside of a baby's body. She then transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care unit at Virtua Hospital, frequently pulled into the Neonatal ICU when needed throughout her 13 years there. Recently, Virtua Hospital’s Pediatric ICU closed and Marcy took on a job in Virtua’s Mother Baby unit. But in the days of COVID19, with her hospital’s pediatric floor closed to provide beds for COVID19 positive patients, Marcy has been frequently reassigned to caring for patients battling the coronavirus.

In her 24-year career as an intensive nurse, Marcy has met no bigger challenge than the COVID19 pandemic. While working days on her Mother Baby unit Marcy says, “These poor mothers have had to adjust so many of their plans and expectations surrounding the birth of their little ones. No mothers expected to deliver their sweet babies in the middle of a pandemic. They are disappointed with not being able to have family members with them at their deliveries because of visitor restrictions.” Of the unique challenges in the days of the pandemic, Marcy remarked, “When a woman is pregnant, her entire body goes through so many changes. Pregnancy can exacerbate or mask different diseases. When it comes to COVID19, most laboring patients are asymptomatic during labor and not showing signs or symptoms until postpartum, which means a positive patient can have a negative screening. We can be around positive patients for days and have no clue. That alone is terrifying. But as everyone knows life in labor and delivery and postpartum is very different. We can’t always think of ourselves first before our patients. We have two patients in one body, and we have to make sure that at the end of the day we have a healthy mom and a healthy baby. We have to stay close to our patients, to hold their hands when they are hurting, to help them learn how to nurse their babies, and especially to comfort them if something goes wrong. Now that they only have one person with them, we are also their photographers to capture their once in a lifetime moments. We do all of this, most of the time, not knowing if our patients are positive…. And we all gladly do it because we love what we do.”

When reflecting on what it means to be a healthcare provider in the days of COVID19, Marcy notes, “The teamwork and true selflessness of every one of my amazing and brilliant colleagues stepping up and giving 100% of themselves has been truly beyond inspiring. The kindness and support of our community and donations that are dropped off at the hospital daily are humbling and will be forever appreciated. The love and support has been truly overwhelming.”

Marcy’s support for the community during this crisis extends far beyond her work at the hospital. In addition to treating patients with COVID19, she has outreached to both charitable and local medical communities to share her special gifts, including St. Joseph’s Hospice in Philadelphia and Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, where she has supplied food and toiletries on a biweekly basis for those most in need. When asked what else she would want to share with the Mount community, Marcy turns to her faith and prayer, noting that she is “Praying daily to our Blessed Mother Mary that Her month of May will bring with it some much needed healing in all of this suffering.”

Thank you, Marcy, for your service to the community, and for the expertise, care and comfort you are providing to the mothers bringing new life into the world, and the COVID positive patients in the fight of their lives.

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