In her 32 years as a psychiatric registered nurse, Maryanne White has demonstrated passion and compassion when it comes to serving persons experiencing mental health and/or addiction issues, as well as individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Her personality, therapeutic philosophy, and nursing skills have not gone unnoticed by her colleagues.Five of them nominated her for the Marilyn Sullivan, RN Award, a new Pittsburgh Mercy recognition award honoring a colleague who embodies the values of advocacy for social justice, compassion for the poor, servant leadership, and demonstrates a passion for collaborative models of care.
White’s colleagues; Stacy Mitchell, senior manager of Adult Outpatient services; and members of the Executive Leadership Team were on hand when she received the award on July 26. Shannon Shaffer, senior leader at Bethlehem Haven and one of the creators of the award, was also there to speak to the spirit of the award.
White primarily works out of South 9th Street, but also visits persons served at Garden View Manor and Outlook Manor, administering medications, and collaborating by phone or email about their health, insurance, housing, and nutritional concerns. When she first meets an individual, White says she encourages them to stick with treatment for a year and the evaluate how far they come in that time.
“I’ve probably known some of my consumers for 15-plus years,” White says. “It’s amazing to be able to get them through hardships and give them support. It’s amazing to see them grow.”
One of the colleagues who nominated White is Leslee Blaze, a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Adult Outpatient services at South 9th Street, who has worked with White for 15 years. In her nomination, Blaze cites White’s use of collaborative models of care and how she goes “above and beyond” her call of duty as both a nurse and a human, advocating for services not rendered and working patiently and respectfully to help meet the needs of the individuals.
“She is a major advocate for comprehensive mental health care and that includes a consumers mental health, physical health, spiritual needs, physical needs, nutritional needs and social needs, all of which require a collaborative approach and teamwork,” Blaze says.
“It quickly became very clear to me that Maryanne offered quality nursing care that included an unequivocal level of compassion, kindness, and unconditional support and respect for each and every consumer she came into contact with,” Blaze continues. “Consumers are easily drawn to and appreciate her positive attitude and pleasant demeanor. Consumers, families and colleagues trust her because she is ethical, empathetic, honest, and provides care that fosters growth and promotes hope.”
Prior to joining Pittsburgh Mercy 21 years ago, White practiced psychiatric nursing at the former St. Francis Hospital, where she worked in the Mental Health Emergency Room for six years. She says that experience provided a good education in learning to deal with many different situations.
White credits her father, an eye doctor, with encouraging her to pursue a career in the medical field rather than cosmetology, which she had considered. Her dedication to community nursing grew out of her own experiences growing up in Ford City.
“I came from a really small town,” White explains. “My family had a lot of hardships. The support from the community was overwhelming. Deep down, I always felt I should pay it forward.”
Blaze says that White is an advocate for those she serves and keeps current on local, state, and national resources to refer them to for help.
“She believes in the concept of wholistic wellness and is a huge advocate for comprehensive mental health care for persons served,” Blaze says. “She meets individuals where they are in life and makes them feel worthy, hopeful, regarded and respected.
“She offers them a sense of peace when she is working with them as she never succumbs to a challenging consumer or situation and instead will solve problems to help them achieve an optimal level of wellness. She easily communicates and forges therapeutic relationships with some of the most difficult individuals because of her commitment to valuing each life as one that is dignified and meaningful. And, finally, Maryanne has always been a nurse who values a team-based approach to optimize consumer outcomes.”
Outside of work, White has a “side hustle” doing paper crafts such as cards and gift boxes, which she sells at craft shows. She says she was never “crafty” until Pinterest. She watched YouTube videos to learn to make “beautiful creations.”
Though her interest had waned, she picked the craft up again out of “boredom” during the pandemic. Her husband now helps her with some parts of the craft and accompanies her to the craft shows.