Patients who have undergone complex, cardiovascular procedures at the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute require specialized care and attention. At CHOC, they get just that in a dedicated, 12-bed Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU).
In CHOC’s CVICU, children receive attention from pediatric cardiac-trained intensivists, nurse practitioners, critical-care registered nurses, and an interdisciplinary medical team. All rooms are private and fully equipped with leading-edge technology that meets the demands of monitoring and treating children with heart problems, and those who have undergone complex heart surgery and heart catheterization procedures.
That combination of well-trained experts and topnotch facilities can lead to improved patient outcomes.
“Cardiovascular patients are unique and delicate. They require complex care and management. CVICU staff members understand these kids’ physiology,” says Allie Quill, a Clinical Outcomes Coordinator at CHOC. “When our patients get into trouble, their treatment is not routine. All of our kids are so different and require such fine tuning.”
Nurses are especially trained to care for patients in need of critical care, and they have knowledge of cardiovascular disorders that staff outside the CVICU might not have.
“Observance skills are crucial. Picking up on vital signs can often lead to early intervention and prevent poor outcomes,” explains Carrie Priest-Chenowith, Director of Cardiovascular Services for CHOC.
Carrie continues, “They’re all familiar with how the heart works when it is not formed correctly. A nurse without that knowledge wouldn’t necessarily understand and pick up on a patient’s changes.”
The CVICU’s design also plays a critical role in improving outcomes for patients. The space encourages parent-clinical caregiver interaction, and ensures a peaceful, healing environment.
Recognizing the role that loved ones play in patient healing, CVICU staff members seldom ask parents and guardians to leave the unit while their child is a patient, says Carrie.
Each private CVICU patient room is divided into three areas:
• The first is the parent zone, which includes a sleep sofa, reading light, sink, telephone and other amenities to ensure family comfort.
• The second area belongs to the patient, and features gas hook-ups, monitors and other equipment.
• The third area, which is closest to the doorway, is the nurse’s zone. Here, visitors will notice a wheeled cart that holds a computer and supplies to allow bedside charting and full access to patients.
The CHOC CVICU also includes two fully-equipped procedure rooms that allow physicians to perform life-saving surgery on patients who otherwise could not be transported out of the unit.
Patients receiving care in the CVICU remain throughout treatment. For that reason, CVICU staff members often develop close and lasting relationships with patients and families.
“We usually end up knowing our families, as well as our patients, very, very well,” Carrie says.
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