Kevin Kenney, RN, BSN
When Kevin started college, he explored many different areas of study but nursing was not on his radar. Over the years, his appreciation grew for science and he applied to the nursing school within his university. It was a good decision; nursing school provided the refreshing change he needed while offering a promising career path. “There are so many specialties within the medical field and nursing offers a lot of flexibility. You can (and should) try out many different areas to see what fits.”
Kevin had always been fascinated by the heart and was also interested in surgery, so “getting involved with cardiac surgery in the cardiovascular operating room (CVOR) was the best of both worlds,” he recalls.
He primarily works as a circulator, “bringing the patient into the OR, helping set up the room beforehand, making sure the right medications are there, getting all the things the patient needs before and during surgery.” But he also shares the responsibility of charge nurse for the CVOR, managing cases, staffing and the flow of the day.
Kevin has been part of CMC’s open heart team since 2010, minus two years working in the ICU. “You get used to seeing an open chest and a beating heart. That becomes normal at some point, but even now I step back every once in awhile and remind myself, ‘this is pretty cool.’ This is not what most people do every day. This is special.”
Kevin was part of CMC’s first transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. He remembers the moment the valve was deployed, “There were almost thirty people in the room and it was totally silent. We were all watching the monitor.” A TAVR requires a multi-disciplinary team, with duties shared by the CVOR and the Cardiac Catheterization Lab—a so-called hybrid procedure. The open heart team is ready in case the situation requires surgical intervention. Since that day, CMC has become a leading center for TAVR.
For all the high-tech Kevin witnesses in the OR, he knows the personal touch outside of it is just as important.
“It’s definitely a unique environment to be a nurse with a patient who’s about to go in for cardiac surgery. It’s something we do every day but I always remember that this is something brand new and probably frightening for the patient. I try to instill as much confidence in the patient and family as I can in the preoperative setting. Believe it or not, you establish an important relationship within that small window of time.”
Matt Sheehan, MSN, RN, CNOR (certified nurse operating room)
Nursing is a second career for Matt Sheehan, MSN, RN, CNOR. “I’ve always been involved in public service,” he remembers. “However, Catholic Medical Center and the nursing profession have enabled me to better serve my community.”
Matt serves in a number of roles in the cardiac operating room. As a circulator, he interviews patients, provides reassurance and education, and functions as the patient’s advocate during the procedure. He also serves, at times as, the nurse in charge of the unit. This requires him to act as a mentor and resource for other staff members as he oversees the flow of a high-acuity department. Other times, Matt scrubs and assists surgeons in open-heart procedures.
Since becoming a nurse, Matt has seen many changes in heart surgery, including new technologies, which are opening up additional and safer surgical options for patients. “I am fortunate to be a part of this team that’s doing amazing work. Integrating technological advancements with compassionate care of the critically ill patient is vital to achieving positive patient outcomes and fulfilling the hospital’s mission.”
Whether it is a coronary artery bypass procedure, heart valve surgery, or the interdisciplinary group creating the workflow for a new procedure, the highly skilled cardiac surgery team is essential to making a difference for the patients. “We all pitch in, are fluid, and are able to help wherever we are needed. Being part of an efficient team that works well together is amazing. We are like a pit crew; a well oiled machine, all for the patient’s benefit.”