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Sue Sirianni and Maria Palleschi may live in different countries – Sue in Ontario, Canada, and Michigan, U.S.A. – but they are close friends and coworkers – and now Sepsis Heroes.
The two did their doctoral research together in the Detroit Medical System, which included four adult hospitals. Their research focused on how to improve sepsis care. “Both of us have done a great deal of work to educate healthcare providers, using modules, videos, and lectures,” says Sue. And Maria points out that they created a YouTube video called SEE Sepsis, and they are actively involved in the hospitals and community.
“We have both worked in critical care for many years and have spearheaded many evidence-based initiatives including but not limited to prevention of hospital-acquired infections, early mobility, sedation protocols, palliative care, and a nutrition protocol,” says Maria. “We love our work, our patients, their families, our staff, and our physicians. Collaboration is our middle name.”
The two also have a personal connection to sepsis. Sue lost her brother to sepsis triggered by necrotizing fasciitis in 2015 and Maria’s mother went into septic shock when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Maria explains that these events helped motivate them even more: “We thought if our families could be afflicted and we know about sepsis, what about the rest of the public who are unaware?”
The drive to raise public awareness has pushed the friends to hold sepsis awareness and fundraising events. Two years ago, Sue and Maria began hosting a Stomp Out Sepsis 5K event in Michigan and in its first year, the event raised over $13,000 for sepsis awareness. Last year, their efforts were recognized when the Michigan Hospital Association decided to host a series of sepsis awareness events too. Maria is also bringing sepsis awareness to her own community in Ontario, where she hosted a Halloween party, Scare Away Sepsis.
The ultimate goal for sepsis awareness is to ensure that everyone knows what it is and how to avoid it, but until that happens, these two nurses would like to see more research into a diagnostic test that could quickly identify sepsis, and even further research into seeing how genomics affects the development and outcomes of sepsis.
When not working on the hospital or community, Sue lives with her husband of 30 years (her high school sweetheart) and is the proud mom of two daughters one of whom is applying to medical school. Maria has been married for 38 years to her husband and has two grown married children (daughter and son) and two small grandsons.
If you would like to attend Sepsis Heroes or make a donation, please visit the Sepsis Heroes ticket page.