Contributed By EAH
On Oct. 1 every two years, the chief of staff role at East Alabama Health rotates. It just so happens that the transition this year finds an Auburn High School graduate succeeding an Opelika High School graduate in the lead physician role that is responsible for providing leadership and guidance to the medical staff and promoting effective communication between the medical staff and administration.
Mary Ann Shannon, an internist and hospitalist — and AHS Class of 1992 — takes over as the new chief of staff today, replacing fellow hospitalist, ICU medical director and friend, Michael Roberts, M.D., OHS Class of 1993. After spending their formative years as archrivals, the two have worked together over the past year to provide for a smooth transition for the top medical staff position.
Shannon joined the local medical community in 2006 as a physician in practice with Internal Medicine Associates (IMA). That also made her an active member of hospital’s medical staff. In 2010, she transitioned to work full-time as a hospitalist — physicians who only see patients in a hospital setting.
Coincidentally, her medical roots can be traced back to the hospital she has now been at for 15 years. Shannon was majoring in chemical engineering at the University of Tennessee, but was home for the summer in 1996. Through a connection, she was able to assist William Webb, M.D. during the summer.
“Dr. Webb let me work at EAMC and I loved it,” she said.
Looking back on it now, she jokingly said, “I ‘blame’ Dr. William Webb, Dr. Robert Brown, Dr. Steve Lock, Dr. John Thomas and Dr. Edie Graves for getting me interested in medicine. Working with them and watching them take care of patients was the reason I went to medical school.”
Prior to moving back home to Auburn and joining the medical staff at East Alabama Health, Shannon was an internist at the Kirklin Clinic at UAB and was on the teaching faculty for the internal medicine residency program at UAB.
When asked what she learned by watching Dr. Roberts the past two years, she quipped “That I do not want to be chief of staff during a pandemic.”
Regarding COVID-19, of which she has played a direct role in the ICU, Shannon states the following.
“I hate to see a pandemic that’s causing so much unnecessary death, and that is monopolizing our hospital resources, become such a political topic and a trigger for anger and discourse. It’s a virus. It’s killing some of us, and it’s overwhelming our healthcare system.
“I hope going forward we can get to a point where it stops: the dying, the suffering of those who are ill and those left behind, and especially the anger with each other. My hope is everyone will do what he or she can do to keep safe from COVID and out of the hospital. And remember, the virus is our common enemy — not each other.”
Away from the hospital Shannon likes to cook, eat, write, travel, read and run. Along with five pets, she has two sons, Charlie and Sam, so she spends a lot of time watching them run track and cross country and play soccer.
ABOUT EAST ALABAMA HEALTH:
East Alabama Health encompasses East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, EAMC-Lanier in Valley, the Spencer Cancer Center in Opelika, the Auburn Medical Pavilion and a host of other key medical clinic and practices that help provide a continuum of care to patients throughout an 11-county area. EAMC is a 340-bed regional referral hospital, while EAMC-Lanier provides inpatient services as well as a nursing home, an acute rehab unit and an ambulatory surgery center. East Alabama Health employs about 3,500 employees and is the second largest employer in the region, trailing only Auburn University. For more information, visit www.eamc.org.