Though sepsis kills thousands of Americans each year, many are unaware of the deadly illness.
Marny Fern, a California State University, Stanislaus alumna, has focused her nursing career on increasing awareness of sepsis, and developing tools to help medical professionals recognize the condition.
Caused by an infection, sepsis is a toxic response to an infection that can kill a patient within hours. Fern first saw a patient die of septic shock while finishing her master’s degree and working as a nurse at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.
After the experience, Fern was motivated to write her master’s thesis on sepsis recognition. Since then, Fern has created and implemented a simple checklist for Doctors Medical Center nurses to utilize while quickly screening patients for septic shock.
“With sepsis, early recognition and treatment is key,” said Fern. “We have armed our health care workers with a greater ability to recognize patients presenting in the early stages of sepsis.”
Fern, who was born and raised in Turlock, received bother her bachelor's and master's degrees at CSU Stanislaus.
After graduating from Turlock High School, Fern considered moving to Southern California to pursue her degree there. However, she decided to stay local and said she is glad that she attended CSU Stanislaus.
“I am extremely proud of the nurses coming out of CSU Stanislaus and working in our community,” said Fern. “The caliber of nurses coming out of our program is phenomenal.”
After starting work as a nurse at Doctors Medical Center in 1999, Fern became the Emergency Department and Professional Development educator for Doctors Medical Center in 2010. Recently, Fern has been promoted as the director of a new specialized care unit.
After completing her thesis in 2011, Fern was invited to speak on sepsis recognition at the Emergency Nurses Association’s national conference in San Diego, as well as the Institute of Nursing Research conference in Las Vegas.
“If your hospital is doing great work but not publicizing it, you’re only benefiting that small population that you impact,” said Fern. “In nursing, we’re not doing clinical, controlled trials, we don’t tend to publish our work, yet what we’re doing is impacting patient care. Others can benefit from the lessons we’ve learned.”