Mary Ann Magnuson ElectedCHS Health Care Worker of the Year
Mary Ann Magnuson, registered mammography technologist, will represent Coffey Health System in the annual Kansas Hospital Association Health Care Worker of the Year Award program. Through mammography she has made a positive impact on our patients, staff, and community.
Nominations for the award were open to all hospital and long-term care unit staff, including both clinical and non-clinical positions. Staff could nominate a colleague by submitting a brief essay. Ballots containing condensed essays were then distributed to the entire staff for final selection. Mary Ann will join nominees from other hospitals throughout the state in recognition at the KHA annual conference in September. Up to three nominees will be awarded cash prizes and statewide recognition.
Mary Ann Magnuson is not so much employed at Coffey Health System, as much as she is called to be here. Her life’s work consists of promoting the early detection of breast cancer, educating women on why mammograms are important, and ultimately performing lifesaving cancer screenings. She embodies her profession so much that when people bump into her around town, they often say, “Hey, there’s the mammogram lady!” Mary Ann takes great pride in that reputation—especially if it sparks someone’s memory that they need to get their mammogram done.
Mary Ann’s commitment to her patients has directly saved lives. She remembers when patients are due for their exam, who skips, and what has been found on previous exams. She recently ran into a patient who had missed her mammogram. It just happened that Mary Ann could work her mammogram in right at that time. As a result, an early-stage, aggressive breast cancer was discovered and cured with surgery alone—no chemotherapy or radiation needed! This is only one of countless examples of how Mary Ann goes out of her way to help her patients.
"Mary Ann Magnuson is the consummate patient advocate with the best 'can-do' personality of anyone I have ever met in healthcare," says Chief Medical Officer John Shell, M.D. "She is of great assistance to all her patients, as well as to the radiology department and physicians. Her technical skills and empathetic approach to healthcare are found in an individual once in a lifetime."
Mary Ann enjoys mentoring fellow staff members. During the mammography registration process, staff must have 100 supervised mammograms under a registered mammography technologist. Mary Ann likes to use this time to emphasize that the best service possible be given to the patient. This includes practicing exceptional clinical skills and respecting the fact that the patient is a person with feelings.
Fellow staff members maintain that consistent kindness and humility distinguish everything Mary Ann does. Mary Ann always brings a smile and a positive attitude to work. As a result, she is a delight to work with and a welcomed presence in the halls.
Mary Ann considers her patients her friends and treats them accordingly. She takes a personal interest in them.
“The biggest thing is compassion and understanding your patients and wanting to do what’s best for them,” said Mary Ann. “I tell them it’s necessary; it could save their life; we’ll do it together; and we’ll make it as easy as possible.”
Mary Ann does not want anyone to be afraid of the exam or avoid getting one altogether because of worry. She is aware that every patient is different and works to make whatever adjustments necessary to make them comfortable and to get the best exam possible.
Mary Ann has also collaborated with other staff to host an annual women’s health conference every October for 22 years. It has become one of the hospital’s biggest events. Every year Mary Ann teaches the audience about the importance of mammograms and encourages them to get one done annually. The event culminates with pink roses given to cancer survivors, many of who tearfully credit their survival to Mary Ann’s diligence. Mary Ann believes that knowledge is power and she goes to great lengths to get the word out to as many women as possible.
Mary Ann convinces “Earlene” of the importanceof annual mammograms during the annual Women’s Health Conference.
The mere existence of Coffey Health System’s mammography department is, in great part, due to Mary Ann. The passage of the Mammography Standards Act in 1992 made regulations burdensome and expensive. As a result, many facilities around the country cut their mammogram departments. At this time, Mary Ann was recruited to prepare the mammogram department for their first grueling inspection under the new regulations scheduled for October 1994.
Meanwhile, in July 1994 Mary Ann’s husband was tragically killed, leaving her a widowed mother of four. In the wake of her heartbreaking loss, Mary Ann returned to work and led the department to passing their inspection which also included picking out a new mammography machine and designing a mammography room. It was at this juncture that Mary Ann realized mammography was her calling.
“Not only did my patients need me, but I needed them too,” Mary Ann said. “Helping other people allowed me to work through my grief and provided me with purpose.”
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