A few years back, Mary Beth Stonich and her team of advanced practice nurses were working to prepare staff for possible Ebola cases at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. Thankfully, their efforts never went beyond preparation.
However, this valuable experience helped Mary Beth and her team prepare for the surge of COVID-19 patients a few years later.
“Watching what was happening with COVID-19 overseas, then in Washington and finally in New York, I was concerned for our community,” Mary Beth shares. “I knew my team and I were prepared to deal with whatever happened.”
When the COVID-19 surge began, Mary Beth’s life got much busier than normal.
“I was working long hours helping with preparations,” she reflects.
A week before her team was called upon to step up and help fight the pandemic, she remembers asking herself, “should I really be doing my normal job right now, or should I be helping with COVID-19 preparations?”
When she eventually got word that her team’s duties would be changing, she was excited to get started in helping support patients, nurses, providers and hospital leaders as well as the overall community.
Mary Beth’s new work varied greatly. At first, she worked with a team to design and implement a 12-bed intensive care unit in St. Mary’s ambulatory surgery space. Next, she moved into assisting with the development of provider staffing plans, in case the surge extended beyond designated respiratory units. She then transitioned into patient and family communication support through the introduction of virtual visits at the bedside to help foster critical connections during a time of extreme isolation.
“I really enjoyed this work and it planted a seed in my heart to work in end-of-life care someday,” Mary Beth shares.
In the summer of 2020, her work transitioned yet again. Except this time, it was back to more usual tasks, such as coordinating cardiac joint commission disease-specific certifications and support of nursing shared governance.
However, by December 2020, Mary Beth was back to helping prepare for another surge in COVID-19 cases.
“My team was trained by Associate Wellness to assist with fitting staff for half-mask respirators as we prepared for our true surge in the beginning of 2021.”
In this last transition of an incredibly wild year, Mary Beth supported her team members and leaders in surge spaces with whatever was needed to make it through. Her work included everything from helping with patient care, transporting patients, expanding cardiac monitoring capability and increasing levels of nursing care on two of the hospital’s inpatient units.
Despite the unpredictability of this time in Mary Beth’s life, one thing remained constant – her faith. A Bible verse that sticks out to Mary Beth from this time is John 15:13, which says “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for their friends.”
This faith was also always present in the important work she was doing.
“Watching our clinical staff, support services and hospital leaders give in ways we never imagined was faith at work in my book.”
Mary Beth recalls that many grew weary during this time, but she believes God can redeem all things.
“I know he’ll repair and restore our teams in His perfect timing,” she shares.
One of the biggest changes for Mary Beth during the pandemic was deciding to try something new career-wise. The pandemic stopped normal operations, showing her that she was ready to have a new experience within our ministry.
“I have loved every minute of my 12-plus years at St. Mary’s. I’m excited to take all that I learned there into my new role as a clinical resource program manager within supply chain,” Mary Beth explains.
To this day, Mary Beth is incessantly grateful to the support system that got her through the pandemic’s most challenging times.
“The community was rallying around health care providers in an incredibly meaningful way which was awesome to see.”
She also wants to thank her husband as well as the Bon Secours Family Center at St. Mary’s Hospital that cared for her children. She is also thankful for both her mother and mother-in-law, who cooked their family meals every night so Mary Beth could relax and be with her little ones after a long day.
“To everyone, a huge thank you!”
We’re grateful for all our talented and dedicated nurses like Mary Beth at Bon Secours, where nurses mean the world.
Read more stories that celebrate our nurses.