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Mary Cunningham Wins Lois Fairley Nursing Award

Monday May 8th, 2023, 4:22pm

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The 16th annual Registered Nurses Association of Ontario Lois Fairley Nursing Award was handed out Monday to Mary Cunningham.

“I was overwhelmed. Quite stunned, quite happy,” said Cunningham on learning she had won the award. “I feel very grateful. When you can touch lives and you can help people, there’s nothing more rewarding than that.”

Cunningham has been a Nurse Practitioner in the Intensive Care Unit at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette Campus since 1990 where she’s known for selflessly serving her community while providing guidance and mentorship to those new to the nursing profession.

Referred to by a colleague as “one of the most influential nurses within the critical care community in Southwestern Ontario,” Cunningham has sat on numerous provincial committees aiding in the development of standards of care for nursing in critical care as well as end-of-life programs at Ontario hospitals. Her leadership within the Critical Care Outreach Team (CCOT) has revolutionized care for critically ill patients.

When it comes to caring for patients, Cunningham prioritizes advocating for families over all else. This was most evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when she went out of her way to ensure families had access to their loved ones after they were admitted to the ICU. In addition, Cunningham always made sure families were up to date on their loved one’s progress. No matter the situation, Cunningham has the ability to make people feel comfortable, even when they are most uncomfortable.

The annual award recipient is selected by members of the Fairley family and the Windsor-Essex chapter of the RNAO from nominations received from the public.

The award is named after Lois Fairley, a graduate of Windsor’s Grace Hospital nursing program in 1955, who spent her career caring for patients at Grace Hospital as a nurse and head nurse until her retirement in 1993. She also served the nursing profession as a member of the Provincial Board of Directors of RNAO and served as President of the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA). She was also a St. Clair College Nursing Program Advisory Committee member.

Fairley passed away in 2007 – the RNAO began handing out the award in Windsor-Essex in 2008.

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