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Gannon to oversee efforts to expand ECMO program to additional units

Feb. 20, 2020, 10:38 AM


by Matt Batcheldor

Whitney Gannon MSN, MS, RN, APRN, has been named to the new position of director of Quality and Education for the Vanderbilt Extracorporeal Life Support Program (ECLS). She will oversee efforts to expand access to ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a life-sustaining mechanical pump that temporarily takes over for the heart and lungs of critically ill patients, allowing them to rest and recover.

Whitney Gannon MSN, MS, RN, APRN
Whitney Gannon MSN, MS, RN, APRN

Gannon came to Vanderbilt in 2018 as an acute care nurse practitioner in the Medical Intensive Care Unit and quickly helped organize efforts to successfully expand ECMO from the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) to the Medical and Trauma Intensive Care units.

Along with several members of the ECMO team, including Lynne Craig, RN, and Ashley Troutt, RN, Gannon created a training platform to teach physicians, surgeons, advanced practice providers, nursing leaders and educators about ECMO.

More than 300 nurses have completed an ECMO nursing curriculum, and more than 140 physicians and advanced practice nurses received training, including classroom and simulations.

As a result of these initiatives, more patients can benefit from the life-saving treatment, and patients and families can benefit by staying with their initial care team, rather than shifting to the CVICU when ECMO is necessary.

“It has been a privilege to participate in what has been an incredible effort by so many different clinicians throughout the institution to expand the use of this technology in a thoughtful and effective way to help very sick patients,” Gannon said.

“The rapid growth and evolution of our program has been in no small part due to Whitney’s tireless efforts to formalize training and elevate Vanderbilt’s presence in this new frontier,” said Ashish Shah, MD, professor and chair of Cardiac Surgery. “She rapidly established an enterprise-wide ECLS training program that included high fidelity simulation, online learning and a pragmatic approach to understanding these complex and vulnerable patients.”

Shah said the ECLS program has an ambitious agenda ahead to expand the ECMO program to other units at VUMC.

“Perhaps more importantly, the ECLS team has begun strategic partnerships with other hospital systems to develop their programs in safe and sustainable ways,” he said. “As director of Quality and Education, Whitney will be central to this effort.”

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