Posts Tagged ‘Pre-operation testing’

Nine Faces of America at Geisinger-CMC in Scranton

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Nine Faces of America at Geisinger-CMC in Scranton, PA

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2014
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

If we are to love our neighbors… we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Frederick Buechner

Getting to Know You

On this fine July day, I drove Kitch to Geisinger-CMC inCMCJR_sign_2658 Scranton for pre-admission testing and orientation. In a few weeks, Kitch will have total knee replacement surgery. Like most people who have this kind of surgery, she has many questions, and she is coping with a good deal of anxiety and fear.

Everyone we met during this visit provided encouragement, help and valuable information that calmed our fears and made us feel comfortable. This is our attempt to say thank you for their kindness.

Mike’s Smile

When we pulled into the parking garage, we were intense. I think it was caused by fear of the unknown.


It was our good fortune to find a parking spot on the ground level very close to the entrance to the hospital. More important than the convenience of our parking place was the reception we received from the parking attendant, Mike. He greeted us with a big smile, and he told us where we would receive the complimentary parking ticket.

Mike’s office space is dark and cramped. He has no impressive letters after his name. He is, in our opinion, one of the most important people we met. He is the gate keeper so to speak and his welcoming way set the tone for our visit.

Thank you, Mike. You give meaning to the words of William Arthur Ward:

A Warm Smile is the universal language of Kindness

Barbara’s Manner

When we entered the admissions office, there was no one in theBarbara_ Image 1a _admissiona_2564 waiting room. In less than a minute, a woman with a pleasant disposition asked us to come into her office. While Kitch searched for her health care cards, Barbara did preliminary work on her computer. Throughout the process, Barbara was polite and respectful. She answered Kitch’s questions, and she offered a few suggestions that would eliminate stress on the day of the operation.

Barbara’s manner and her thoughtfulness made this mandatory stop a pleasant experience.

The words of Francis de Sales best describe our encounter with Barbara:

It is wonderful how attractive a gentle, pleasant manner is, and how much it wins hearts.

Pre-Admission Testing

Several people work in the pre-admissions testing suite, and all of them represent Geisinger-CMC with dignity, class and competence.

Nina_iMG 2__2614

We were greeted by a Nina Barbieri, a registered nurse with extraordinary people skills. She explained the nature of the tests she performed and the reasons why they are important for the procedure Kitch would have.

One of her associates, Angelina, administered an EKG. Then she did the required blood work. Normally this is an agonizing experience for Kitch. Because of Angelina’s skill, it did not bother her at all.

After the blood test, Nina returned to administer a special test that is designed to protect the patient from MERSA.

Before we left the lab, Nina printed a copy of all the information, and she included her name and phone number on the report to enable Kitch to make contact for any help she might need.

While Kitch was behind the closed door of the lab, I made theKathy Patti _IMG 3_2589 acquaintance of one of the most inspirational people I have ever met.

Cathy Sue Loyack is battling breast cancer. She has had three procedures and chemotherapy in six months. She is about to begin her radiation treatments.

Cathy is the mother of two college-age children. When she was diagnosed with cancer in November, she did not tell her children. She did not want to burden them with this information during their final exam week.

Cathy is an optimistic person who lights up the room with stories about gratitude and determination.

On this day, Patti Thomas was her nurse. Patti was a perfect match for her patient.

The memory of the time we spent in pre-admission testing with Nina, Angie, Cathy and Patti lessened our fears and made us feel optimistic about Kitch’s surgery.

We were in caring, competent, empathetic hands. A feeling best described by Walt Whitman:

I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.

Pictures for the File 

Our next stop was the waiting room in the radiology department. As CSLoyack_2619we crossed the threshold, we were greeted by Cathy Sue Loyack. She was sitting alone in the back of the room. Kitch and I joined her. As you might expect, the two women talked about their experiences with breast cancer. I thought the conversation was liberating for both Cathy and Kitch.

At the appointed time, nurse Heidi O’Brien called for Kitch. Together they made their way to the dressing room where Kitch changed into an appropriate patient’s gown.

In less than 10 minutes, the door opened, and nurse O’Brien held Kitch’s arm as she walked with her to the place where the chest X-ray would be taken.

Another door opened and a man in his mid 40s with the assistanceHeather Image_ 4Radiology_2628 of crutches slowly walked toward the exit. He was intercepted by a woman of a similar age, apparently his wife. She reached out to help him.

Then it happened. She looked down and noticed his sneakers were untied. Without hesitation she dropped to her knees, and tied bow knots to secure the sneakers and prevent him from falling.

While this priceless scene was unfolding, I decided not to violate this beautiful moment by taking a picture, I assure you, this poetic moment of love and service will remain in my heart and mind forever.

As the couple slowly walked away, the door to the X-ray room opened and a smiling Kitch and her nurse appeared.

They entered the dressing room, and the pre-admission testing phase of our visit ended.

Pre-Operation Orientation

At 11:45 a.m., we took the elevator to the fifth floor. That is where five knee surgery patients assembled in the community room to learn about virtually every aspect of the procedure. The session is a central part of the Geisinger Patient Education Program.


We arrived a few minutes early as did one other patient, Lou Palazzi. A college football player, retired teacher and landscaper, Lou was preparing for his fourth knee surgery.

After we finished our conversation with Lou, Betsy Guinan, a registered nurse and assistant to Dr. Harry Schmaltz, walked into the community room. Betsy is the Nurse Navigator for New Steps Joint Replacement Center. She greeted us with a pleasant smile. Kitch had a few questions, and Betsy graciously answered each one.

The other three members of our group arrived. Betsy took her position in the front of the room. She started her PowerPoint presentation, and for the next hour she walked us through every phase of knee replacement surgery.

She emphasized the things that can be done before and after surgery that will help expedite recovery. The topics included: proper nutrition, exercises to strengthen your arms and preparing your Betsy_5_2657home.

More than once she emphasized the importance of pain management, infection control, and hand hygiene.

She told us what we could expect on the day of surgery, what items we should bring to the hospital, and she walked us step by step through the operation.

Included in her presentation were three aphorisms:

“Mobility is your best friend.”

“Good nutrition is essential for a successful procedure.”

“Self motivation is the key to successful surgery.”

Patients and their caregivers were encouraged to ask questions and offer comments. Several were offered, and every question was addressed with respect and practical information designed to help all of the people in the room.

If, as Anne Sullivan once said, teaching is about turning on the light of understanding, Betsy did an excellent job in preparing us for knee replacement surgery.

Blood Counts

One of the things most of us take for granted is our blood. That’s not the case at Geisinger-CMC.

MaryAnn O’Brien is the Blood Conservation Coordinator. She Image 6_OBrien_2667is trained to help patients optimize their blood count. This, in turn, reduces the need for blood transfusions during surgery. According to MaryAnn, blood transfusions are associated with poor outcomes.

MaryAnn offered a number of ways patients can build their hemoglobin before surgery: taking suppliments like iron, Vitamin C, and Folic Acid. She encouraged everyone to eating foods rich in iron and Vitamin B12.

She explained in great detail the benefits of optimizing hemoglobin levels to guarantee a speedy recovery.

Before the session ended, MaryAnn answered questions, and gave each patient three pamphlets and her business card so they could make contact with her if they had any questions before their surgery.

The author and poet Wendell Barry tells us that:

Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing.

Our pre-operation orientation at Geisinger-CMC gives truth to Barry’s words. While we were at the hospital, we became part of a healing community. We were in a friendly environment. Everyone we met understood the anxiety and fear behind our faces, and they called upon years of experience to lessen our pain. They gave us confidence that the surgery would go well, and they assured us they would do everything in their power to help us during our journey to recovery.

Thank you, Mike.
TR_Hard Work_1048

Thank you, Barbara.

Thank you, Nina.

Thank you, Angie.

Thank you, Cathy.

Thank you, Patti.

Thank you Heidi,

Thank you, Betsy.

Thank you, MaryAnn.

Thank you, Geisinger-CMC.

We came to the hospital for pre-surgery orientation. We came home with invaluable information and a mosaic of the Face of America on its best day. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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