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Marissa Bird wins award for innovative work with pediatric patients

Mar 23, 2018
Guylaine Spencer

Marissa Bird

Marissa Bird, a PhD student in the McMaster School of Nursing, has won the 2018 Young Alumni Award from the University of British Columbia (UBC) School of Nursing.

Bird received her undergraduate nursing degree at UBC, graduating in 2014. The Nursing Alumni Committee of UBC granted her the award for demonstrating “exceptional engagement in professional, civic or community activities” particularly “her implementation of pediatric programs which improved the identification of deteriorating pediatric patients and improved care for them and their families… and her quest for answers as a PhD student to help improve the lives of medically fragile children.”

From 2014 to 2017 Bird worked at the McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton. “I was fortunate to have two roles there,” she says, “one being the nursing lead for the Rapid Response team for the hospital. This is a team based out of the pediatric ICU with experts from a variety of fields. These clinicians are able to go to any patient with signs of deterioration and provide the support those children need.”

The second project, which is still on-going at McMaster Children’s Hospital, is the implementation of an “early warning system”. Bird explains that “the system helps to recognize early deterioration of patients by looking at trends, things like vital signs and assessments from the bedside staff. The goal is early intervention and to stop this child from going down the path of deterioration. Every time a nurse assesses a child, and takes vital signs, that gets entered into a program that calculates a score for them. It’s those cues that allow busy practitioners who are looking after multiple patients at once to say, yes, I am concerned and here’s why. It gives nurses a little more data to track the changes in the children and therefore intervene. It’s really patient-focussed. It’s looking at the individual child and what’s going on with them right now.”

Bird is in the first year of her PhD studies at McMaster. “I’m working to develop a proposal for my PhD,” she says. “My research focus is working with medically complex children and youth. I’m working collaboratively with clinicians from McMaster Children’s Hospital to develop a virtual care program, the objectives of which are to keep children well-supported at home instead of having to be hospitalized for care. We will draw on the expertise of the interdisciplinary team – nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, dieticians, physiotherapists, etc. The program will allow families to access the support and the care they need from home, without coming to the hospital. The program will draw on innovative digital technologies to enhance care for these incredibly resilient patients and families.”

Bird’s PhD supervisors are Dr. Nancy Carter and Dr. Michael McGillion who are experts in the fields of advanced practice nursing, knowledge translation, and digital health technologies such as the SMArT VIEW project.


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