Care Continues

From Surgery to ICU,
Our Teams are Ready

Susan Gornall, director of Perioperative Services, and members
of her team.

If your medical care requires surgery or a stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), it’s already a serious situation. But trauma puts serious “on steroids,” as they say. Just ask the ICU and perioperative staff at NorthBay Healthcare. “When it comes to trauma patients, we in surgery have to be ready for anything, and time is of the essence,” stresses Susan Gornall, NorthBay Healthcare director of perioperative services.

Word that a trauma patient may be headed to surgery will come as the patient is being assessed, either in the field, or in the Emergency Department, she explains. “And when we receive the page, we must be ready for the worst-case scenario within 30 minutes.”

Debra Amos-Terrell

What happens in those 30 minutes? Surgeons are notified a patient is on the way and they need to attend to the patient
in the Emergency Department. The surgical suite is prepared; it has to be brought to the proper temperature and some fluids must be warmed. Packs and instruments are prepared for the surgery—whether it’s for abdomen, thoracic, vascular or orthopaedic trauma—and are all ready and on stand-by.

The surgery staff works as a close, collaborative team. It includes operating room nurses, surgical technologists, anesthesia technicians, post anesthesia nurses, surgeons and anesthesiologists, Gornall explains.

As the surgical team gears up to treat incoming trauma patients, the ICU team prepares to receive them, says Debra Amos-Terrell, director of critical and telemetry care services. “Patients cared for and transferred to the ICU require the highest level of care, with interventions as often as every hour. Resuscitation and ICU management of trauma patients requires staff to gain additional skills.”

“We have to be ready for anything, and time is of the essence.”

NorthBay began building its infrastructure for trauma care and other advanced medical services several years ago, and the latest plank in the platform is assuring its surgery and ICU staff have completed intensive training exercises and received trauma certification.

Surgery staff members are attending Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC) training classes and are completing certification for advance life support. Trauma Care After Resuscitation (TCAR) is designed for perioperative nurses and will also be an important component for staff working in the ED, Gornall adds.

ICU staff have also completed TNCC classes and received off-site training at Alameda County Medical Center. “Members of the ICU staff will spend several 12-hour shifts there, learning how to respond to trauma and managing this patient population in the ICU. It allows them to obtain hands-on training at a Level II facility,” Amos-Terrell explains.

In addition to the training, ICU and surgery staff has participated in a number of mock drills over the past several months.

“The drills test the process,” Amos-Terrell says. “We are definitely committed. Providing trauma services is such a need for our community and congruent with our mission,” she adds. “My staff has been phenomenal in taking on all the required training to assume these specialties, and with such grace. They are so committed to this community, to life-long learning and to excellence. That is truly who they are.”

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