#IAmWMC: Vanessa McDaniel, RN, infection preventionist
By Kristy Bleizeffer Sep 14, 2020
At 5 years old, an accident almost ripped off the tip of Vanessa McDaniel’s finger. Doctors here, at Wyoming Medical Center’s emergency room, sewed it back on.
“... And it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Vanessa, infection preventionist at WMC. “I thought it was amazing to the point that I wanted to be a doctor for my entire life after that. I started pre-med in college, but realized I didn’t want to go to school for another 50 years. I applied for nursing on a whim and I absolutely fell in love with it.
“I find that nurses are even more hands on with patients than the physicians. You’re the doctor’s right hand, and they help guide your care, but you’re the one at the bedside doing it and making those connections,” she said.
Vanessa started at WMC as a graduate nurse in 2002, working on our Transitional Care Unit. In the 18 years since, she worked in the GI Lab, managed Perioperative Services and Mesa Primary Care, worked in Employee Health and finally joined Infection Control. A major part of perioperative services is preventing infections in the ORs, so her most recent position seemed like a logical progression. But three years ago, she couldn’t have predicted what came in March 2020. Nobody could.
Part of infection control is monitoring infectious illnesses around the world. Nothing intensive, just keeping an eye and an ear on the reports circulating in the background. She started reading about a new coronavirus making people sick in China in late 2019. Then, on a Friday afternoon in February, physicians called an infection control meeting for Wyoming Medical Center and “everything went crazy from there,” she said.
“It went from working regularly scheduled, eight-hour days to 24-hour days very quickly. It was so important to stay up-to-date on all the changing guidelines and research. Everybody was depending on us to know the answers, and to digest all the information they didn’t have time to digest cause they were taking care of patients. It really brought Infection Control out of the background and into the forefront.
“Keeping our staff safe is a huge passion for me. Because, if they aren’t safe, they can’t take care of our community,” she said.
At times, Wyoming Medical Center feels almost like her family hospital. Her grandma worked here as a monitor tech on the Progressive Care Unit. Her uncle works here as a CT tech.
“I'm a native of Casper, so this is my community hospital. It is the hospital that will take care of me, my family, my children and my grandchildren, so it's important to me that we keep this gem in Casper,” she said. “I am very proud to work at Wyoming Medical Center. We do amazing things here.”