Recognized for developing a postpartum depression screening tool
Wendy McDowell, shown with her York Hospital Excellence in Caring and Practice Award which she won in May, has added a national award to her resumé.
Wendy McDowell, R.N., B.S.N., postpartum depression resource nurse for WellSpan, is one of three national winners of the Future of Nursing Leadership Award.
McDowell was recognized for her work developing a postpartum depression screening tool for new mothers at Gettysburg Hospital and York Hospital. The tool also is being used by pediatric and women’s health practices.
“I was very surprised and amazed to learn that I had won the award because there were so many applicants from across the country,” said McDowell, who has been a York Hospital nurse on Maternity for 10 years.
McDowell developed the postpartum depression screening tool as a project for Frontline Leadership, a four-part nursing leadership development program offered by WellSpan.
The Advisory Board Co., a health care think tank based in Washington, D.C., conducts the program.
Marian Damewood, M.D., medical director, Women and Children Services, said, “We are fortunate to have Wendy on our team. She has taken ownership of a critical area in women’s health. She has made a very positive impact not only in our community, but statewide.”
The Future of Nursing Leadership Award selection committee cited McDowell’s leadership growth which it termed “particularly impressive.”
In her application, McDowell said, “I previously thought of myself as ‘just a staff nurse’ and wondered how I could possibly make a difference.”
But McDowell saw a need for a postpartum depression screening tool and decided to work toward filling that need.
“I had talked to many new moms and many of my friends who had experienced postpartum depression, so I knew there was a need for a screening tool. And, I knew that we screened for other conditions that are less likely to occur.”
McDowell said she was pleased that WellSpan listened to her ideas and gave her an opportunity to pursue them.
“Now, I find myself seeing the greater vision for our hospitals and searching for answers to problems that arise on our unit rather than just assuming that’s not my responsibility and someone else will take care of it.”
She designed the tool based on extensive research into the risk factors for postpartum depression. She also invested significant time educating clinical staff.
As a result of her work and advocacy, WellSpan developed the position of postpartum depression resource nurse for both York Hospital and Gettysburg Hospital.
The Future of Nursing Leadership selection committee assessed the applicants according to the significance of the problem tackled, the process by which the applicant achieved their results, the quantifiable nature of the outcomes and the sustainability and innovativeness of the solution.