My name is Megan Bannister and I am a nursing major at Clemson University. This summer, through the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation, I had the opportunity to shadow some of the pediatric floors at MUSC including the Pediatric Cardiology ICU (PCICU), PICU, Peds Telemetry, and Peds ER. My experience at MUSC with the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation was one with no comparison. Within each of these units, I saw teamwork, compassion, and a determination for patient well-being that I have never seen before. Needless to say, I was more than a little impressed!
The Peds Cardiac ICU was my favorite unit to shadow. One of the patients was a young infant born with a congenital heart defect that required open heart surgery the first week of his life. After the initial surgery, he was put on a machine called ECMO that pumped and oxygenated his blood, giving his heart and lungs the rest needed to heal from the surgery and defect. I was able to watch the follow-up procedure of taking the infant off ECMO. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen: I saw the doctor re-open the infant’s heart (which had been covered by a special tape), clamp and remove the machine, and wait for the infant to respond. That baby boy pumped his heart and breathed through his own lungs for the first time in his life!! I asked one of the nurses if they saw this type of procedure regularly, and she said “all the time, girl!” The PCICU is an unbelievably awesome place where parents and children are cared for with the highest quality. The entire unit worked as a team – doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and case managers worked together with the families to bring the best care to their patients.
The Emerson Rose Heart Foundation has contributed to this passionate, unified atmosphere in the PCICU. Lounge chairs are available for family members to spend the night, visiting hours are 24/7, and patients are treated as real people with names instead of room numbers. One little elementary school aged boy received a small recliner (his size!) to help him be more enthusiastic about sitting up in the chair and spending less time lying in bed.
If given the opportunity, I would definitely again visit the PCICU in MUSC to see more and be a part of the impact that ERHF is making to those patients and their families.