|JUMPED RIGHT IN: As a new graduate, Jessica Rymsza, RN, joined Bayfront Medical Center's cardiovascular ICU, where she had previously been a tech. (courtesy Bayfront Medical Center)
Jessica Rymsza, RN, quickly found her calling when - as a new graduate - she joined the cardiovascular ICU at Bayfront Medical Center, St. Petersburg. She's part of a dedicated team of expert nurses and other professionals who care for a high-acuity patient population.
Rymsza had some familiarity with the unit because she worked there as a tech, so she already knew what was expected of staff. Working as a nurse on the unit, however, would prove challenging.
"I was a fresh graduate coming into a tough area," she recalled. "I was a little intimidated."
Rymsza feels lucky to work with a supportive manager and unit staff.
"I received whatever training I needed to become a competent and caring nurse," she said. "I can take that knowledge and use it every day. I get to sharpen my critical-thinking skills with every patient."
Although she works on a highly specialized unit, Rymsza learns from each patient encounter. "There is always something new - every patient is a little bit different," she said.
"I love working with this patient population, too," she added. "We only have them for 1 or 2 days, and they can be very sick. You've got to establish a trusting relationship with them quickly. It's special to have that bond with the patients as they're going through a pretty big thing in their lives."
"We have smaller patient ratios, but we're always busy - conducting assessments, giving medications and otherwise keeping up with the needs of high-acuity patients," Rymsza said. As a staff nurse, Rymsza also helps prepare patients for open-heart and other surgical procedures, works with a multidisciplinary team when patients return from the OR and transfers other patients to the cardiac stepdown.
"We recently had one patient who was a real go-getter. He was up in the chair the same day he had surgery - even went for a walk 2 hours after his procedure," she said. The patient's IV lines were removed relatively soon and he quickly began physical therapy.
Occasionally, a more chronically ill patient remains on the unit beyond 1 or 2 days, Rymsza said.
"They are the ones who really stick with you. Recently, I took care of a man who came to our unit too late. At first, he did well and we were optimistic he would go home."
As his condition deteriorated, the man touched many nurses on the unit.
"Everyone had to let him go, and it was a very emotional experience," Rymsza reflected. "You're taught to be a kind and compassionate nurse but keep your emotions at a certain distance. When you have a close relationship with the patient and families, though, it's more difficult and more rewarding."
The unit offers open visiting hours and provides sleeper chairs for family members who want to spend the night.
"We let them come in unless having them present would [interfere with] the patient's safety or care," Rymsza said. "We welcome families on the unit. Our manager feels a patient's loved ones strongly benefit the recovery process. They offer additional support during what can be a difficult time."
Expert Cardiovascular Care
Bayfront Medical Center's cardiovascular ICU contains six private patient rooms that allow for efficiency in patient care. The unique setup of the rooms raises all equipment from the floor and allows patients flexibility of movement. Nurses are able to take care of all documentation from the bedside monitor, so patients are not left unattended. The one-to-one patient-to-nurse ratio also assures each patient receives a caregiver's undivided attention.
In addition, Bayfront Medical Center's ED-based chest pain center has earned full accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers. Four beds are designated for chest pain observation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Should patients need additional cardiac care, they have virtually instant access to Bayfront's expert team of cardiologists and staff, state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, catheterization laboratories and a sophisticated open-heart surgery center.
Additionally, in 2006, Bayfront Heart Center was recognized as a Carescience Select Practice National Quality Leader in cardiac bypass surgery.
- Compiled by Karin Lillis