Super SHEro - Marissa Manhart '10

Super SHEro - Marissa Manhart '10

Marissa Manhart, MSDA Class of 2010, is a Patient Safety and Nursing Quality Coordinator at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey. She has been in her current role for a few years, monitoring nurse sensitive indicators such as hospital acquired infections and pressure injuries, patient falls, and a host of regulatory measures. As part of her role, Marissa does auditing and data collection, and brings that information to various taskforces and committees to work with the nursing staff toward constantly improving patient care. She serves in the role as a resource and a bridge between the bedside staff and the administrative side of operations, coordinating improvement projects and making sure the staff is providing evidence based care.

In the days of COVID19, because Marissa is a Medical-Surgical certified nurse with prior bedside experience, she has been redeployed to a Medical-Surgical COVID unit to take on a patient assignment. Of her “new” typical day, Marissa says, “My day begins bright and early at 7am and I work a full twelve hour shift, with patients who range in stability; from patients who have freshly arrived from the Emergency Department, to patients coming from the ICU and are still quite sick, to those who have been on our unit for a number of days and are looking to be discharged. I assess the patients, especially focusing in on their respiratory condition, titrate oxygen, dispense medication, address any issues that arise, and coordinate their discharge to home or transfer up to a higher level of care. Even though it’s been a few years since I have taken direct care of a patient, it’s like riding a bike – I am drawing a lot on my training from nursing school at Boston College, as well as from my prior experience at St. Joe’s.”

Though she is not taking care of critically ill patients or those on ventilators, many patients are at a tenuous point, Marissa notes, “which keeps setting off that gut instinct and internal alarm bells that all nurses have. Things can change very rapidly for a patient, and you need to rely on your assessment to catch when a patient is not doing well and needs a higher level of care— sometimes this happens very, very quickly. The healing process overall, though, takes a much longer time. The best moments are when we can send a patient home, and we’ve begun playing the Rocky theme music over the hospital PA system to celebrate that victory. It makes the losses and heartbreak hurt a little less.”

Marissa noted that in an interesting twist of fate, she is just weeks away from graduating with her Master’s in Public Health, concentrating in Epidemiology, expressing her fascination, ever since childhood, with epidemics and infectious disease. “Even before I decided that I wanted to be a nurse, studying epidemiology was my life goal. The possibility of a pandemic has intrigued and scared me— especially with growing up hearing about avian influenza, SARS, and Ebola. Our world has become smaller, because of increased globalization and improved air travel— a pandemic of some form, in my eyes, had always been inevitable. I’ve been tracking this virus since the early days it was reported and now I am just trying to stay up to date on the latest data and trends. I’m hoping to use my frontline experience and education, once the surge is over, to improve our response for the next time as we examine the actions that worked and did not work.”

So, not only is this Mountie helping patients battling COVID19, she’s planning to put her first-hand experience and expertise to use in helping increase preparedness for the future. Thank you for your help today, and in the future, Marissa!

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