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Walk a Mile

My new button says “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.” For a few hours, I shadowed Kelsee, a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.  I followed her to the Cath Lab, the Cardiac Catherization Laboratory, where doctors perform tests and procedures to diagnose and treat the heart.

            As Kelsee and I walked the hospital hallway she said, “I’m excited to introduce you to the others on my team.  We’ve got three patients, three procedures this morning.  I’m helping with the first one so my friends will take care of you.” Kelsee’s words foreshadowed the time I spent with her. 

            My preconceived vision of a Cath Lab was a small room with four white bare walls where doctors, nurses, and staff quietly and solemnly do their work. I was wrong.  Supplies for the procedures line three walls.  The other is a bank of windows to an adjoining room where staff members monitor computer screens showing the patient’s vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, and blood oxygen saturation.

            Kelsee said, “First, we’re going to replace a pacemaker.  Want to see what one looks like?  Mike can show you.”  Mike is a rep, a representative, for the manufacturer of the small device that helps regulate the heart’s rhythm.  A shiny silver device, the size of a book of matches.   

            Why was Mike wearing a head covering and lab coat to go into the Cath Lab?  “When a device from my company is used, I’m here to make sure the pacemaker is operating properly and make programmed adjustments if needed.”  He explained that the patient’s pacemaker was ten years old and its battery no longer functioned well. 

            Kelsee stood on one side of the operating room bed and Dr. Wathen, a cardiac Electrophysiologist, on the other.  Three Cath Lab staff members and I watched and they explained the procedure, the vital readings, and answered my questions.  Through the headset I wore, I heard Dr. Wathen explain what he was doing and reassure the patient.  “You’ve got a good group here with you today.  We’re doing everything we can to get you feeling better,” he said.

            After connecting the pacemaker to the leads implanted in the patient’s heart, Dr. Wathen said, “Mrs. Ray, look, it’s here in place,” and he looked toward the windows.  Later, we visited briefly. “This is the easiest thing we do. This team works together well.”  We walked down the hallway to the Electrophysiology Laboratory.  “Here’s the E.P Lab. It’s is closed this week to be updated.  Come back again and watch a more complex procedure,” he said.

            Walk A Mile is offered for us laypeople to see what happens at our hospital.  I observed a pacemaker replacement and two cardiac catheterizations to diagnose heart ailments.  But I was most impressed by the enthusiasm and teamwork of the hospital employees who are friends and take pride in their jobs.            

Thank you CRMC for this opportunity.  If I need heart care, I want Kelsee and her friends beside my bed.  I’ll wear my button so they’ll know I’ve watched through a window.

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