When Patient Education Nurse Mary Ann Fedorczyk walks into work every day, she is certain she is in the right profession. For nearly 33 years, Fedorczyk has been an employee of Allied Services Integrated Health System at John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in Wilkes-Barre. She began her career at Mercy Hospital in Wilkes-Barre, where she received her RN training and gained eight years of experience in medical surgical nursing. She next worked in geriatric nursing, spending one year at a facility in Nanticoke and eight years at Little Flower Manor in Wilkes-Barre. In 1982, she joined Allied Services.
Fedorczyk was inspired to pursue nursing by her family members, many of whom were already nurses. She remembers listening to stories from her aunt and godmother, who worked at Kings County Hospital Center in New York City. “I love working with people,” she says. “So I thought, let me give it a try… I’ve been with it ever since.” The field was a perfect fit for her. She enjoyed the hands-on environment and the opportunity to work with and help others.
When Fedorczyk first started at Heinz Rehab, she worked on different units. She remembers being asked to become a regular team member of the Brain Injury Unit when it was first created. She decided to try it, even though she had little experience with brain injury at the time. Heinz Rehab now offers one of the nation’s leading rehabilitation programs for persons with brain injury. Compared to regional and national scores measured by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation, brain injury patients at Heinz Rehab often go home in shorter periods of time and with more independent functioning.
Fedorczyk has learned much more about brain injury over the years. Her knowledge and expertise in this area is evident—as is her passion for helping those affected by such a difficult diagnosis. “It’s so rewarding when you see them overcome a lot of their deficits,” she says. She has seen many brain injury patients who first arrived at the facility with feeding tubes and tracheotomy tubes return home without them. She finds it gratifying to know that they reached these goals with the help of the Heinz Rehab staff.
In 1997, Fedorczyk became involved in Patient Education. She now works with patients who have a variety of conditions. However, her knowledge of brain injury continues to be an asset to her job. Since 1998, she has taught a Brain Injury Education class for family members of patients with brain injury. The class, which takes place at the facility every other week, explains brain injury behaviors and deficits, prepares families for caring for patients post-discharge and gives families a chance to ask questions. “It can be very overwhelming for families and caregivers,” she says. “So I think it’s helpful for them to know what they’re dealing with.”
Fedorczyk has accomplished much throughout her many years of experience with Allied Services, having earned the titles of Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) and Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS). In 2007, she was a recipient of the Allied Services Charles Luger Memorial Employee award in recognition of her outstanding service. The award is given in honor of the late Lackawanna County Commissioner Charles Luger, who was a long-time board member and chairman for Allied Services.
Fedorczyk’s favorite aspect of working for Allied Services is its focus on its commitment to the patients. “The patients are put first,” she says. She also enjoys that her workplace has a family environment. She has formed a strong bond with her coworkers and knows they are always willing to help. When asked about the future, Fedorczyk says she hopes to continue helping and educating patients and families for as long as she can. “I can’t imagine doing any other type of job,” she says.