In the Cath Lab, We’re All Heart
By Erica Morin, RN
Cath/EP lab supervisor
Methodist Charlton Medical Center
I’ve been at Methodist Charlton Medical Center my whole nursing career. That’s 15 years. Not once have I ever felt that I needed to look elsewhere.
My career started when I was hired as a nursing extern after completing two semesters of nursing school. Methodist Health System has a great program for nursing students. You basically shadow a nurse, so you get to perform some of the procedures that you learned in nursing school. When I graduated the following year, I came right back to Methodist Charlton and never left.
My dream? Nursing!
That’s how my career started, but my passion for nursing started much earlier. When I was around 13 years old, my grandparents were missionaries in the mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico. To visit them, we literally had to drive through a rocky creek bed. Once a medical mission team came in, and when I saw the great need that those villagers had for the most basic health services, like getting their blood pressure checked, getting their diabetes checked, having their teeth cleaned, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to go into medicine.
As soon as I started high school, I told my mom that I wanted to volunteer at a children’s hospital. So she faithfully took me there every day. I spent so much time there that I won an award for the most volunteer hours. I really enjoyed entertaining the toddlers while their parents were at work. But I also discovered that I wanted to care for adults. Seeing little ones sick was too emotional.
Right after graduation, I started nursing school. My dream was to be a nurse — not a doctor. Physicians are great, but they aren’t there all day every day like nurses are. I wanted to be with patients.
My team, my family
That’s what I love about my job. I’m a supervisor in the cath/EP lab at Methodist Charlton, home to the only heart-failure clinic in southern Dallas County. Part of my time is spent behind the scenes doing administrative work. But most of my time is spent with patients. I love that. I also love being a resource for my team. They can call on me any time and say, “We need you in Lab 1,” and I can be there in 10 seconds.
I work with such a great team, too. We’re small — just seven nurses and seven cardiovascular specialists. But it is a strong team that is very, very capable of handling anything that comes through the doors. One of the things we measure here is door-to-balloon time. The Joint Commission expectation is 90 minutes, and the national average is about 40 minutes. Here at Methodist Charlton, our record is 11 minutes, which means that a heart attack patient can come in here, and we can very quickly have a balloon placed in the patient’s artery. That shows you how well our team works. Everyone knows what to do and when to do it.
We’re an ER for heart attacks
The cath lab is exciting because it’s a challenge. The acuity of patients is high, and we often work with complicated cases. There’s a huge need for cardiology services in our community. That’s why we’re an accredited Chest Pain Center by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. What’s more, we’ve received the American College of Cardiology Foundation’s NCDR Chest Pain – MI Registry®–GWTG™ Platinum Performance Achievement Award for heart attack care for seven consecutive years, as well as the American Heart Association Get With The Guidelines® Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for heart attack and stroke care for two consecutive years.
These awards reflect the quality of care we provide our patients, yet it feels more like a home environment here. We all work together, and everyone has a really good attitude.
There’s something special about being in a community hospital. We provide so much for our neighbors. We had a Heart to Heart event recently, and the auditorium was filled to capacity. One of our former patients shared his lifesaving experience with us. He calls it the “miracle on Wheatland Road.” We have many patients who are more than willing to share their stories.
It’s all about the patients
That’s what it’s all about: the patients. I often stop and think, “I love what I do.” But what makes it really wonderful are the times that patients acknowledge you. When I worked in intermediate care, I remember the time I came into the room of a cancer patient who wasn’t getting enough nutrition because eating was too painful. I stopped and took the time to clean and treat the sores in her mouth so she could sit up and enjoy her soup. It was a little thing, but her family said that I had treated her like she was my one and only patient. They nominated me for a DAISY Award, which I happened to win.
Every day I wake up and say, “You picked the right thing to do!” I feel so blessed to have found my nursing career. Even if I win the lottery, I’ll still be here.
If you’re looking for an organization that is committed to the highest standards of care and want to be part of a team of exceptional nurses who love what they do, consider Methodist Health System. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.
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