Home' Southern Health News : August 2014 Contents 8.
SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS / AUGUST 2014 / 9
BY SARAH KOLAR
A strong patient focus is the key to
This is the mantra staff at Flinders Medical
Centre’s Intensive and Critical Care Unit (ICCU)
work by and it’s what makes the unit one of the
best in the country.
With more than 2,000 admissions each year,
the unit has one of the lowest mortality rates of
any Australian intensive care unit – about 200
deaths – and this is in no small part due to the
commitment and expertise of staff.
“ICCU outcomes depend upon both ICCU
performance but also the whole hospital
performance, so both must be good,” says
Southern Adelaide Local Health Network ICCU
Director Professor Andrew Bersten.
“Particular areas that effect ICCU performance
include team structure and identification of
responsibilities. These are supported by strong
education and research.
“Together, this has built a cohesive culture
that wants to continuously improve.”
Professor Bersten said intensive care staff
faced a number of challenges including
greater patient load, and increased
complexity and acuity of illness.
“As a result, the ICCU needs to keep developing
new techniques and ways of doing things," he said.
“One example is extracorporeal membrane
oxygenation (ECMO) – a medical procedure
which provides cardiac and respiratory
support to patients whose heart and lungs
are so severely diseased or damaged that
they can no longer serve their function.
“Cardiac and liver surgery and liver
transplantation are also excellent examples
of teams that are being forced to push the
boundaries by patients with increased acuity
of illness. The ICCU has a role to support
these complex procedures and to help stabilise
patients if unexpected complications occur in
hospital. This takes a team approach with strong
and frank communication.”
Despite the challenges, Professor Bersten says
“sustaining and growing care for critically ill
patients and staff is very rewarding”.
“As the Director of the ICCU, I have many
roles and act as the spokesperson for
the unit and for the patients and families
who need intensive care," he said.
“In this role the most rewarding aspect is to help
develop opportunities for improved patient care
and for staff development.”
Flinders intensive care unit one of Australia’s best
4. ICCU worksheet. 5 . Registered Nurse Renee Overweel adjusting an infusion. 6 . (L-R) Registered
nurses Jessica Dawes, Stella Sun and Jessica Bullen, with SAAS MedSTAR Paramedic Robyn Roocke.
7. Registered Nurse Mary Williams. 8 . Registered Nurse Yolanda Paffett in one of the intensive care
isolation bays. 9 Registered nurses Penelope Saywell and Caroline O’Callaghan, with Dr Evan
Everest, Dr Kayla Hopkins and Dr Ming-Yu (Anthony) Chuang during the medical staff handover.
doctors are drawn to intensive care.
There is so much diversity – no two
days are the same, no two patients
are the same.
There are stories of death and
sadness but more so there are stories
of survival with patients recovering
against all odds.
The passion this team of doctors and
nurses show for their patients, and
each other, is inspiring. They work
together as a well-oiled machine
and are willing to support each
other because they’re all here for the
same reason – to help people.
And while it can be a high pressure
environment, with mistakes a matter
of life and death, I still see the staff
laughing and smiling at each other.
It is a comforting sight.
As the clock ticks over to 7pm,
there’s a flurry of new faces as the
nurses and medical staff on night
shift arrive. The nurses find their
assigned patients and catch up with
the day shift staff to find out how
busy it has been, how the patients
are tracking and what ongoing care
they may need through the night.
Half an hour later, the doctors
and lead night shift nurses huddle
together in the west wing for the
medical staff handover. Each group
goes to their assigned wing and
goes through the condition of each
patient, bay by bay.
In the west wing, Dr Everest leads
the group. He is on call tonight and
could be called back to the unit at
any moment if required. He runs his
eyes over each patient’s chart and
discusses any potential issues with
the doctors who will be on duty
throughout the night.
An hour later and the unit has
settled in for the night.
The air is filled with the sound
of heart rate monitors beeping,
the gush of air as the ventilators
suck air in and out and the swish
of curtains as they are pulled
closed around the patients.
And the watchful eyes,
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