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Helping Patients Stay Heart Healthy

Vol. 2 •Issue 2 • Page 11
Life on the Unit

Helping Patients Stay Heart Healthy

In the cardiac catheterization lab, LPNs play key role

LPNs are often vital members of the cardiac catheterization lab team. In addition to helping to maximize efficiency in the cath lab, they ensure that patients are well cared for by a team that is skilled and dedicated, serving as a comfort to both worried patients and their families.

One such LPN, Marianne Scibilia, works in the always-busy cardiac catheterization lab at North Ridge Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale. The medical center specializes in intervention procedures as well as open-heart surgeries, and Scibilia is an integral part of the cardiac department.

Scibilia, a veteran LPN with 19 years experience, entered the medical field as a unit secretary in 1982. Because of both her intellect and caring nature, however, she was encouraged by her co-workers to pursue a career in nursing. They could see how special and caring she was to all the patients, family and visitors that would encounter her on a daily basis. Scibilia eventually made the leap, attending Atlantic Technical Center's (Coconut Creek) practical nursing program.

First Point of Contact

Scibilia starts her day early. As is the case with many LPNs in the cath lab, she is often the first point of contact for cardiac cath patients and their family members. She interviews each patient, taking a complete medical history and initiating the appropriate tests — labs, ECG, urine specimens and chest X-rays — as ordered by the physician. Scibilia starts the intravenous access for the patients, and can access even the most difficult veins. She also helps the patients change into their hospital gowns and often assists by shaving and prepping the groin area in preparation for the catheterization.

Reassuring Presence

LPNs in the cardiac cath lab should have a caring way with patients. Scibilia, for example, instinctively knows how to calm patients who are to undergo this interventional procedure. Not surprisingly, patients are often anxious, as the cardiac catheterization procedure will diagnose potential cardiac problems. The procedure can show normalcy of the cardiac structure or need for further intervention — stents or coronary artery bypass surgery to relieve coronary blockages, for example.

In addition to serving as a reassuring presence, cardiac cath LPNs like Scibilia check the lab values and report them to the physician should they be abnormal. Scibilia applies the leads and the cardiac monitors. Occasionally, she assists in the "holding area," where patients from other facilities arrive for procedures. Her compassionate smile welcomes them to the facility and assures the patients that they are in the best of hands.

Scibilia also occasionally works in the electrophysiology lab. Patients with arrhythmias are treated in a variety of ways. Pacemaker insertions are often performed here, with Scibilia helping to prepare the patients for their procedures. Additionally, she works on the fourth floor telemetry unit when activity slows down in the cath lab. Although Scibilia's time in telemetry is limited — a slow day in the cath lab is rare — Scibilia fits in well on the fourth floor caring for a diverse population of telemetry patients, monitored for many varied diagnoses.

Before she leaves for the day, Scibilia takes the time to make sure that all is ready for the next day's procedures, including readying the charts of upcoming patients. Because of this consistency and dedication, Scibilia recently won the employee of the month honor at North Ridge, and was honored at a special monthly ceremony. The physicians and her fellow nurses value her participation in the day-to-day infrastructure on their unit.

Liz Naftaniel is a telemetry nurse at North Ridge Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale.


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