Coronary Care as it now exists in most U.S. Hospitals is relatively new.
Fifty years ago, most hospitals did not have specific units for heart patients.
In her new book, The Bon Secours Hospital Holden Coronary Care Unit, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, author Sheila Le Sueur, R.N., RETIRED, relates the story of the founding of one of the first CCU Units in that area of the country. She writes:
“In 1966, before cardiac care units, coronary patients were cared for on the general floors.
"Respiratory therapy departments had not yet been developed, monitors did not exist and other systems and tools were minimal.
“Also, we could not regulate a patient’s IV (intravenous flow). Our choices were limited to either turning on or off the flow through the tubing.
"Lidocaine was still unknown to us and pacemakers4 had not yet been perfected.
“We did have oxygen and Morphine was the drug of choice for relieving severe pain for which Demerol was ineffective.
“It was not uncommon to find patients dead in bed even directly after the nurse had left the room. When this happened, a nurse was bound to feel guilty.
“I have my own memories of at least one such event and I know I could not have prevented it. The electrical system of the cardiac cycle is magnificent but it can be fickle.
“It only takes one beat to go awry—only one beat!
“We nurses were in awe of the defibrillator, the “doctor’s gadget,” and that was the extent of our equipment. All we had to rely on was delivery of expert nursing care.
“When working with cardiac patients, our nursing skills were put to test in new and different ways. Although we didn’t know it at the time, Bon Secours nurses excelled in providing the type of coronary care that often was unavailable at other hospitals.
“Nurses at Bon Secours were not assigned to work with cardiac patients; they had to make the request themselves.
Many of the Bon Secours nurses realized they were not cut out for it. For “Nurse Sheila LeSeuer,” however, it was perfect. I enjoyed the challenge.
“We were an efficient team with Dr. Robert Griffin as our leader, teacher, and favorite cardiologist.
We responded favorably to his calm demeanor and his ability to make a complicated system easy to understand. He always demonstrated his confidence in us.
“We were also dedicated to our mission, “Bon Secours”: to provide “good help” to our patients and our community.
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