Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Germanna nursing grads come through when it counts

            By PAT MONICAL

During a routine checkup our primary care physician asked my husband if he ever experienced shortness of breath.  He said no, only upon exertion, and it went away quickly.  He is physically active, is up and down stairs all day and never experiences pain or becomes winded.  He did say if he carried a box of copier paper up to the second floor he gets a little winded but it goes away immediately.  All blood work is good but he does take a statin for cholesterol.  Just to be safe the doctor ordered a stress test, EKG, and echocardiogram.
On June 26th my husband went in for the tests at the Pratt medical center next to Mary Washington Hospital.  The EKG was fine.  The echocardiogram was fine.  The stress test showed a problem.  The technician came out and told us we would have to go to the hospital for evaluation.  She told us to wait, that she would be contacting the hospital, and would prepare papers and images for us to take with us.  When she came out she very firmly said, “Go to the hospital….NOW.” 
In the ER they looked at the images and scheduled a catheterization immediately.  The cath lab cardiologist came out and abruptly stated, “This is very bad.  Very bad.  We don’t know why he is still alive.”  He was sent to ICU and scheduled for a quadruple bypass first thing in the morning.   We went from a semi-routine test to crisis management in the matter of a few hours.  I was blown away and by myself in a hospital I’ve never been to before.  We moved here in 2010.  I still don’t know the names of the streets and I have no history of any medical facilities.  Now we were facing serious surgery.
This is where Germanna Community College’s nursing program comes in.  The people at Mary Washington hospital (from administrative staff, volunteers, housekeeping staff, food service, clerks, parking lot attendants, security to all medical personnel) were efficient, professional, KIND, helpful, eager to be of service, and basically acted as if they knew what they were doing and had done it before.   We were treated as if we had a brain, things were explained to us, and we were constantly asked if we had any questions.  We weren’t a number and we mattered.  That human touch and professionalism scored highly with me.  And you know what?  Most of the nurses we encountered were GCC grads. 
I work at Germanna and there were times before this that I’ve encountered some students who have made me wonder if they have what it takes to take care of others.  There were times they were too busy talking on their phone to notice a door held for them or to even hold a door for others and other similar events.  I’d wonder if they’d ever notice the needs of others.  What I found is that, somehow, the necessary skills and caring were imparted to them during the course of their training. 
The nursing staff was constantly on the go, yet their attention was to their patient and their family members.  They didn’t wait for someone to ask them for help.  They offered it without asking.  They anticipated the needs and acted as if it was a privilege to serve.  That made a difficult and stressful situation a whole lot easier to handle for the patient and family. My husband came home four days after his surgery.  His progress has been amazing and                     that’s a testament to the care he received.
Thanks to Dean Patti Lisk and the rest of the nursing department at GCC.  I could not be more appreciative or impressed and I no longer wonder if a student has what it takes.  If they are in Germanna’s program, they do.

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