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Heather Mosley | SBJ

2022 Health Care Champions Nurse: Susan Hansen

Mercy Hospital Springfield (retired)

Posted online

For the 48 years she served in the nursing profession at Mercy Hospital Springfield, Susan Hansen says she followed the example set by her role models, the Sisters of Mercy who founded the hospital.

In 1899, when smallpox threatened the community, the sisters quarantined along with the patients, and Hansen says that’s how they established their presence in the community.

“From then on, the sisters inspired nurses to develop an awareness of unmet health needs in the community and respond to the call for action,” she says, adding she viewed herself as a role model for positive health behaviors for her patients, co-workers and community members.

Hansen recently retired as administrative director of cardiopulmonary services and imaging at Mercy Hospital Springfield, and she says she worked in the heart care program throughout her career. With the rest of her team of health care professionals, she says she spent the last four decades finding ways to educate the public about heart health while building treatment programs and shaping care paths for patients.

“Health care is an art and a science,” she says. “When something doesn’t go as expected, I work to discern what happened, and why, and try to figure out how to correct the process or approach as needed to prevent future occurrences.”

Hansen says she devoted much of her career to prevention.

“This means providing care for patients who have risk factors or have already developed cardiac disease,” she says. “I believe the best way to help others is to teach them and empower them to help themselves.”

She adds the approach can take many forms, from teaching the public to recognize signs and symptoms of heart attack to teaching a nurse how to provide effective care for a patient in cardiac rehab.

With this approach, she says, patients are able to make their own lifestyle changes to improve their outcomes.

Hansen has spoken to the public about heart health on many occasions – among them the eighth graders who spend a year at Mercy to learn about careers in health care.

“We hope their immersion in an actual health care setting promotes their desire to enter health care fields for career choices,” she says.

Hansen notes she is proud to have represented Missouri on Capitol Hill several times on behalf of the American Association for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, and the group’s efforts paid off in 2012 with Congress’ recognition of the scientifically acknowledged, long-term benefit of cardiac rehabilitation.

“It was extremely rewarding to have participated in that effort,” she says.

Outside of work, Hansen has dedicated a large portion of her time to the American Heart Association and organized or participated on Heart Walk teams almost every year it has been held in Springfield. She was on the AHA board, 1984-1999, participating in the annual gala planning committee and chairing its Go Red for Women heart health awareness campaign in the early years.

In retirement, Hansen says she’s eager to write the next chapter.

“I am looking forward to having more time to give back to my community,” she says.

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