2016 Sentara Heart Annual Report

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Cardiac Nursing

Heart patients at all Sentara hospitals receive exceptional care from our team of highly specialized cardiac nurses. Many of our nurses hold advanced certifications or degrees, including doctoral degrees, in various subspecialties. At Sentara, we encourage our nurses to perform at the highest level of their clinical expertise while providing support to patients who are undergoing or recovering from advanced cardiac procedures.

Patients and their loved ones agree that the care provided by Sentara nurses is extraordinary. Our customer service scores show that patients consistently rate their overall care at Sentara at the highest level possible, a 9 or 10 on a scale of 10 (best hospital) to 0 (worst hospital).

Advanced Care for Patients with Chronic Illness

The role of cardiac nurses continues to expand and become more vital as the care delivery model for each patient increases in complexity.

Many patients have multiple comorbidities or chronic illnesses, such
as heart disease and diabetes.This combination of health problems can complicate cardiac treatment and recovery. Nurses must manage the primary reason for hospitalization, such as heart surgery, while also monitoring other conditions that can interfere with recovery. For instance, heart patients who also have diabetes often need special wound treatment to ensure proper healing. Our nurses tap into their high-level education and training to ensure a patient’s recovery goes as smoothly as possible with few risks or complications.

Advanced Practice Clinicians Perform Top-of-License Work:

  • Coordination of care through ambulatory clinic and physician practice sites
  • Assistance with advanced structural heart procedures
  • Cardiothoracic surgery program support
  • Assistance with complex catheter ablations in electrophysiology and catheterization labs
  • Management of advanced heart failure patients
  • Support for a range of bedside procedures

Nurse-Directed Stress Testing

Over the past decade, the responsibility for performing heart stress tests has shifted from physicians to cardiac nurses. Under the guidance of a cardiologist, Sentara cardiac nurses who have completed special training conduct exercise stress tests for patients to check for heart disease, irregular heartbeats and other cardiac-related problems.

Surgical Partners

An increasing number of cardiac nurses are assisting with complex cardiac procedures in the hybrid operating room, electrophysiology (EP) lab and catheterization lab. Sentara nurses provide support for catheter ablations, cardiothoracic surgeries and advanced structural heart procedures, such as aortic valve repair and replacement.This surgical collaboration allows for a seamless transition to post-surgical care during a patient’s recovery. Our nurses also work closely with patients who have received ventricular assist devices (VADs), implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and pacemakers, as well as those recovering from heart transplants.

Post-Surgical Intensive Care

In the cardiac surgery intensive care unit (CSICU), cardiac nurses are part of a multidisciplinary team comprised of cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, nurse practitioners and cardiovascular perfusionists.The nurses collaborate with heart experts to ensure a continuum of care for patients who require extracorporeal life support (ELS), also known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

ELS is an emergency stabilizer for patients suffering from acute heart failure or respiratory failure. This ventricular support system pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood in order to give the heart and lungs a temporary rest. Caring for patients on ELS requires advanced nursing skills.