Up Front with Our Farr 9 Staff
Striving to Support, Educate and Cheerlead Our Bariatric Patients
By Christie Roy, BIDMC staff
Having surgery is not usually something that fills a person with excitement and happiness. There is often anxiety and discomfort about the procedure, the outcome, the rehabilitation. But for those patients undergoing weight loss surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the inpatient team who cares for them says the level of enthusiasm from this patient population is unmatched.
“Our patients all are very eager because they want to have this surgery, they’ve gone through all the preparation and are excited to take the next step,” says Kim Maloof, RN, Unit-Based Educator on Farr 9, the floor where all bariatric patients stay after they leave the recovery room. “Patients will tour the floor before they have surgery, make friends with the other patients and help each other while they’re here. We’ve even had friends, both planning to have the surgery, call ahead to see if they can be roommates.”
Farr 9 itself carries an air of optimism, with its cheery displays of information for patients and an upbeat attitude that resonates not just among the patients, but from one staff member to the next.
“Usually, bariatric patients are trying to make a positive change in life and have already gone through a lot,” Chris Gervino, RN, says. “It’s great to help them through to reach their goal, and our goal is to make their stay with us as enjoyable and productive as possible, and get them home as quickly and as safely as possible.”
Kao Saephanah, the floor’s Unit Coordinator, previously worked in the outpatient bariatric clinic and now recognizes many inpatients as folks he met while they took their initial steps towards weight loss surgery.
“Most of our patients are really enthusiastic to begin with, but for us to be able to be positive with them and share positive words, that helps too,” he says, echoing the sentiments of his colleagues. “It takes a lot of commitment to their plan after surgery, and I commend our patients for devoting themselves to it, I like seeing their ‘old-to-new’ transformation.”
John Ryan, RN, Nurse Manager for Inpatient Surgery on Farr 9, is proud of his team and the good reputation they have in attending to this patient population.
“Everyone on our staff is a real expert in the care of bariatric patients,” Ryan says. “Having this unit-specific staff is really beneficial for our patients — they know they will be cared for well and safely, and are confident that we will recognize any subtle changes that could indicate a problem. We also have a good working relationship with our surgeons and residents, they all know the expertise of our nurses.”
The time a patient spends on Farr 9 after having weight loss surgery varies depending on the procedure, but generally inpatients stay for one to three days. This time period has decreased over the years as the procedures have become less invasive. With such a short amount of time, it’s up to the nurses to begin working with the patient right away to get them on the right track.
“Our patients are usually very well-versed in what to expect after surgery — the diet progression, the activity level,” explains Ryan. “Our outpatient clinic does a great job in getting the patients ready, but it’s still important for us to go over their routine with them, round with all of the nurses and the surgeons, and reinforce the teaching the patients have already had.”
As Ryan alludes to, each patient follows a “surgical pathway” — a specific plan for diet, activity, supplements, and general recovery to which they need to adhere. The pathway begins with the patient’s arrival on Farr 9 and continues after they leave. If a patient wavers from that pathway, their nurses are ready to step in.
“We can all help explain to them what’s happened if they go off that pathway and how to get back on right away,” says Maloof. “Family members are also very involved right from the get-go, and we try to educate to help alleviate any fears they might have.”
The nursing team works together to keep each patient following their pathway, handing off information to each other and to nursing assistants during shift changes, and working closely with the surgeons, clinic staff, and case manager to determine if anything additional is needed, such as meetings with other specialists or social workers. Sharing patient notes online has also been helpful to the entire staff, Maloof says, as well as bedside computers that allow for quick answers to patients’ questions about diet and medications.
None of the Farr 9 staff members hide the fact that they are very dedicated to caring for their bariatric patients, and sensitive to their needs.
“They’re here because they want to be,” Ryan says of his staff. “I look for people who are interested in the population that we’re taking care of, who can provide quality, compassionate care. We all understand what our patients are going through, and think about them as if they are our own family members.
“It’s wonderful to see our patients have that satisfaction of working towards a goal and getting better,” he adds. “All of us work hard to help them get there, and it’s always rewarding to hear good, positive words from our patients after they’ve left our floor.”
Above content provided by the Weight Loss Surgery Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.