Home' Southern Health News : August 2014 Contents 1. Paramedic Allen Grant, SAAS MedSTAR Paramedic Robyn Roocke and SAAS MedSTAR Retrieval Registrar Adrienne Boonstra. 2 . Unit Coordinator Penelope Saywell updates the ICCU patient board
in the west wing. 3 . Registered nurses Kaye Payne and Tim Wray drawing up a sedative infusion.
SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS / AUGUST 2014 / 7
numerous patients recovering from complex
heart and liver surgeries and a pregnant woman
suffering from a severe bout of influenza.
Senior nurse Kim Bury, who has worked
in the unit since 1979, says it’s been a
busy day, with staff working hard to
shuffle patients in and out of the unit to
accommodate emergency admissions.
Kim tells me the patient who had arrested earlier
in the day was taken to Coronary Angiography by
a team of ICCU staff (one doctor, two nurses and
a personal services assistant) to have a pacemaker
inserted. The doctor and nurses are required to
stay with the patient for the two-hour procedure.
At the same time, the unit receives calls from the
Emergency Department (ED) and another ward to
have patients reviewed for possible admission to
“While the Medical Emergency Team (MET)
doctor was escorting the ED patient to ICCU, the
patient on the ward deteriorated and a code blue
(MET call) was initiated,” Kim says.
“This required a rapid adjustment in
staffing to free up the MET doctor and
another nurse to respond to that patient,
who was also admitted to the ICCU.
“In the ICCU, we can have many different things
happening at once, so it’s important for us to
be ready for anything that comes our way.”
As Kim and I talk about what has happened
There are eyes everywhere. Watchful eyes.
Following the slow rhythm of chests moving up
and down, monitoring fluids as they drip down a
tangle of tubes, intent on the constant blip of the
heart rate monitor.
These eyes belong to a team of nurses and
doctors, carefully tracking the progress of patients
as they lie, often motionless, in their beds.
This is the Flinders Medical Centre Intensive and
Critical Care Unit, where life is at its most fragile.
It is also the engine room of a busy major
hospital, where the most critically ill patients
come in to receive care from highly skilled
clinicians – or intensivists as they are known –
although many of their patients are often unable
to witness this first hand.
The 32-bed unit receives more than 2,000
patients through its doors each year, specialising
in post-surgical care of cardiac and liver surgery
patients, respiratory failure, chronic disease, acute
infections and trauma.
With the wide range of conditions that come
into the unit on a daily basis – and the constant
potential for a patient’s condition to deteriorate
quickly – staff are ready and prepared for anything.
And I’m about to see them in action.
As I begin this six-hour stint in the unit, I’m
told it has been at near capacity all day.
There has been one cardiac arrest, a death,
during the day, a phone rings and staff are told a
patient is en route from Noarlunga Hospital in an
ambulance. She has acute exacerbated Chronic
Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – a lung
disease that prevents her from breathing properly.
ICCU staff jump into action, preparing a bay
for the incoming patient. Shortly afterwards,
the woman arrives on a stretcher with a team
of paramedics and MET staff surrounding her.
There is a flurry of green (ambulance), red
(medstar) and blue (FMC) uniforms as the health
professionals work together to safely transfer the
woman to a bed; hooking her up to machines
which will monitor and stabilise her breathing.
Soon after, the MET phone rings. The MET phone
is used specifically for medical emergencies within
the hospital that may require assistance from
intensive care staff.
ICCU nurse Tim Wray responds to the call. It’s an
elderly woman in the Acute Medical Unit (AMU)
who has had a drop in her level of consciousness.
Tim grabs the MET trolley and darts down the
hallway towards the AMU. When he gets there
a large team of doctors and nurses surround the
patient, working hard to stabilise her.
After a short time, the woman’s condition
improves and she is able to stay in the AMU.
We return to the ICCU and a female patient is
being wheeled in following major cardiac surgery.
She has had coronary artery bypass grafts, which
will improve blood flow to her heart.
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