Carrie Hanley, PhD, MPH, CIC, manager, infection prevention & control, Mount Nittany Health, joined Mount Nittany Health one year ago. She never imagined that she would coordinate and help lead Mount Nittany Health’s response to a global pandemic. Dr. Hanley holds a Master of Public Health, specializing in epidemiology, and a PhD in epidemiology, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is also certified by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC), identifying her as a healthcare professional who has shown mastery in knowledge of the field.
Dr. Hanley began her service at the United States Air Force Academy and served five years as an Air Force Officer. “Serving in the Air Force helped develop my leadership skills and prepared me for urgent and unexpected situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
After serving in the Air Force, Dr. Hanley joined the U.S. Peace Corps, giving her the opportunity to immerse herself in a remote village in The Gambia, West Africa, working side by side with leaders to help tackle some of the area’s most pressing health challenges. Dr. Hanley cared for maternal and youth populations in The Gambia and surrounding villages, which had no roads or access to health care. “Caring for the youth and mothers in the villages really inspired me and my passion for providing care to vulnerable populations,” shared Dr. Hanley.
After returning to the United States, Dr. Hanley continued to follow her passion for helping others by pursuing her Master of Public Health and ultimately obtaining her doctorate. Dr. Hanley brings this breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to Mount Nittany Health as the infection prevention & control manager. “I am excited and passionate about the work I do here, where I can help ensure the health and safety of our patients, our visitors and our team,” she said.
In their role at Mount Nittany Health, Dr. Hanley and the infection prevention & control team are charged with the essential role of preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Together they create and implement policies and procedures as well as track data, identify trends and reduce the risks of infections across the health system.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Hanley and the team were essential in the early preparations, planning, and then responding to the pandemic in our community and ensuring the health and safety of patients, community and employees and providers at Mount Nittany Health.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge globally with so many unknowns. At Mount Nittany Health, we took a proactive approach to COVID-19,” said Dr. Hanley. “We activated a multi-disciplinary COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Team (CPRT). The CPRT met daily to respond to issues and implement pertinent policies and procedures, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the needs of our community, to protect our patients and staff.”
“One of the challenges that all healthcare facilities faced, including Mount Nittany Health, has been the optimization of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially N-95 masks,” stated Dr. Hanley. “The CPRT developed ways to optimize our supplies to keep our patients and staff safe. In addition, at Mount Nittany Health, we have been able to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 with the collaboration of our community partners. We are so thankful for our community reaching out to us, donating time, money and resources to help support our patients and team.”
Dr. Hanley also shared tips on how to remain safe and healthy as facilities and businesses are reopening. “As places are opening up, it is important that we continue to follow CDC guidelines and follow everyday precautions,” stated Dr. Hanley. “One of the most important measures to stay healthy is to remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially before touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as well as after coughing or sneezing, before eating and after using the restroom. Other important everyday precautions include wearing masks or face coverings when in public, maintaining social distancing of six feet, cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects and staying home if you are sick, even if you have mild symptoms.”
One of Dr. Hanley’s key takeaways during the COVID-19 efforts is just how amazing the team is at Mount Nittany Health. “We have such a great team at Mount Nittany Health,” Dr. Hanley said. “During these challenging times, our people have stepped up and come together to protect and care for our patients and community. It is truly amazing.”