Waiting for an open heart patient, time stretched into an eternity, as the nurses in the ICU collectively held their breath, instinctively knowing that the patient was teetering on the fragile thread of life. Shortly after midnight, the patient arrived and our fears were realized.
Severe bleeding necessitated a team approach, as multiple hands were needed to transfuse liters of fluid and blood products and give vasopressors. Nurses from other zones rushed to assist as the patient's heart failed. The family was brought to the room, as the devastating news was delivered that their loved one was dying and would need to return to the OR immediately. As their tears began to flow, I saw the compassion of my team as they acknowledged the family's pain. The chaos of the scene stilled, as the family was welcomed to the bedside, allowing precious moments for the family to see and caress their loved one.
As the patient proceeded to cardiac arrest, Dr. Torres heroically opened the patient's chest, cradling her heart in his hands; he massaged life back into her pale body. The weight of the patient's heart was felt by all, as the patient began to slip away. The harsh alarms mirrored the anxiety in the faces of the team as the patient was rushed to the OR.
As I waited with the family, offering support, they repeatedly stated how appreciative they were of the staff for working so diligently to save their loved one. Time stood still as we waited, praying for a miracle that was not to come. Dr. Torres met me in the hall and his shoulders shook as we shared an embrace. His heroism and genuine grief had prompted a rare embrace between healthcare professionals.
Sorrow was a palpable presence as we walked to the conference room and Dr. Torres gently shared the loss of their loved one. A hush fell over the ICU as each nurse quietly held their own moment of silence, demonstrating compassion and respect for a person and family they had never had the opportunity to know, but whose loss was felt to their core.
The ability of a team to respond to critical situations is what makes IMMC a center of excellence, while the caring support of the family makes IMMC a center of compassion. I am honored to be a part of this team, and I ask that you recognize the members of this team by bestowing them with an ACE award.
The ICU Team for ICU/CCU, Respiratory Therapy and Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, includes the following individuals:
Jose Torres, MD; Rori Morrow, MD; Cindy Clausen, RN; Tina Hawley-Grimes, RN; Amy Hildreth, RN; Holly Jimenez, RN; Veronica Hillock, RN; Clara Robb, RN; Heather Torrence, RN; Jillana Valbracht, RN; Sue Barber; Mary Jo Krauel, RT; April Stahlbaum, RT