Before each major league baseball team takes the field, the grounds crew preps the playing surface. They will take time to rake the infield, redraw the foul lines, prepare the mound, fill in the holes in the batter’s box, etc… Everything is done to specified rules so as to prevent the field conditions from affecting the outcome of the game.
Before each surgery takes place, the OR (operating room) has to be cleaned and set-up for the incoming patient. How the room is set up is determined by the nature of the procedure and the particular preferences of the surgeon. While certain aspects of how you set up a surgical room is universal, it is the particulars that allow for the team to perform more efficiently and safely.
Drawing upon (or maybe torturing) the baseball analogy further, there is always a heads grounds keeper that coordinates resources amongst the grounds crew team members. Here in Guatemala the head grounds keeper, or OR (Operating Room) Director, is Charlotte.
Charlotte is uniquely talented to fulfill the role of OR director. Charlotte has been a nurse for 44 years (interesting side note, Charlotte’s mother served as a nurse for 52 years) and has worked in many different roles. Because of her fantastic breadth of experience and knowledge, she can respond quickly and efficiently to the unexpected events. More importantly, because of Charlotte’s experience, she serves as a mentor and resource for the members of the nursing staff who may be faced with situations they have not experienced yet in the United States simply because of the age of the local technology and facilities.
However, Charlotte doesn’t do everything. Instead, Charlotte coordinates with the nurse circulators. Cindy, Alessondra, Charlotte, Gene and Mo have complete ownership of setting up each operating room before a procedure takes place. They ensure that each instrument and supply that is going to be needed for a surgery is in its proper place and ready for use.
But that is not where the preparation ends. Once all the facilities and instruments are ready, it is the circulating nurses that greet the patient and their family. They ensure that all pre-operation instructions have been followed and nothing has changed since the patient was originally seen. Along with the translators, these are the individuals who represent the entire medical team to the patients and their family members.
No surgery is without risk. Despite the talent and skills of all of the individuals involved, external influences can have a catastrophic effect. To provide the greatest possibility for the patients to heal, it is critical that as many risks be eliminated/reduced as possible. Because of the socioeconomic situation of most patients, when they return to their homes, they are not going to have access to the same follow-up care we would receive in the United States. Some patients may not even have access to clean water or sanitary conditions.
Charlotte and the circulating nurses are a critical component in reducing the risks the patients face during their healing process. They allow for the surgeons to conduct as many surgeries as possible by reducing the downtime between procedures. These individuals are the face of trust and compassion that the patients and their family members need. At the end of day, these individuals ensure the patients have the best chance possible to win at the game of a pain free life.