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Family Connections

Perioperative nurse liaisons at Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City, provide peace of mind while loved ones are in the OR

Advance for Nurses—November 2, 2010

Anyone who has sat in a waiting room while their loved one is in the operating room understands the anxiety and stress that makes minutes seem like hours.

At Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York, NY, perioperative nurse liaisons fill an important communication void as they update and reassure family members. Sheila Byrne, RN, ONC, and Patricia Spergl, BSN, RN, are the pioneers launching this innovative role at HSS.

Grassroots Involvement

A Magnet-designated facility since 2002, HSS incorporates robust interdisciplinary collaboration and a shared governance model for nursing practice.

"The perioperative nurse liaison program came out of our Patient Service Excellence Council," said Ronald Perez, JD, RN, CNOR, assistant vice president for perioperative services. "It's a large interdisciplinary council focused on patient satisfaction, and includes staff from all areas."

In acknowledgement of HSS's cutting-edge clinical care and specialized procedures, U.S. News and World Report named HSS the No. 1 orthopedic hospital in the country.

"Patients come from everywhere in the city, the tristate area, out of state and even out of the country for the expertise we offer," said Tracy Willett, MBA, MSN, RN, CNOR, director of nursing for the operating rooms. "Family members often feel out of place, and need reassurance and support."

"When I share just a sentence or two of relevant information with family members, I can see their shoulders go down, hear them sigh, and notice how they're relieved and a bit more relaxed," Byrne said. "The biggest selling point for patients and families is I actually go into the OR. Some of our spine cases can go 12-14 hours, and families often come a couple of hours before the procedure. That makes a very long day! I update them regularly, and encourage them to go take a walk around the block or have a meal. I get a cell phone number from them, and reassure them I'll call if there's an important update."

This story originally appeared at advanceweb.com.


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