Sunday morning dawns and we are back to our hospital routine after a wonderful day and evening with our Rotarian hosts. Today there are eleven surgeries scheduled so we anticipate that it will be another relatively late day as a number of the procedures are palates. Palates, the newcomers have learned, are a much longer surgeries than lips. As per the routine Carolyn counts heads and confirms we are all on the bus and Bryan confirms we are well…and it is wheels up once again at 6:30! A number of our young charges are sent home first thing in the morning after successful surgeries and equally successful nights on the ward. One of the young babies heading home today is Carl Labnotin. Carl is just 5 months old; mom and dad missed our original clinic day as they had some travel issues. They arrived the day after the patient selection was made but were put on the schedule as a “walk in” and were advised at that time that if there was a cancellation that could not be filled the team may be able to arrange for Carl to have surgery. Fortunately for baby Carl an opportunity arose and they were able to get Carl on the surgical schedule on the second day.
Miraculously a brief 48 hours later Carl has had a very successful operation and is on his way home. No one can nor would they want to wipe the smile from mom’s face and dad is truly bursting with pride and promise for his son’s future. For this family their dreams have just been realized.
There are a number of reasons that a surgical spot opens up for a child most commonly as a result of another child on the schedule becoming unwell. When this occurs the team attempts first to reach a child on the original waitlist and when or if that is not possible a ‘walk in’, is able to move into that surgical time slot – such was the case for Carl.
FOCUS OF THE DAY ‘PACU” PACU …what in the world is that you might ask? Most commonly referred to as the ‘Recovery Room’, PACU means Post Anesthetic Care Unit. It is sometimes difficult to figure out exactly who works in PACU as most of our team really like to be in this area to see the children and babies after surgery and just as importantly to witness the faces of the moms or dads when they first come smile to smile with their child. There are no words to describe the emotion that floods everyones hearts when they have the opportunity to be part of this moment. Most aptly put by one of our team this week; the parents have always seen their beautiful child…but now they know the eyes of the world will also see their child as beautiful.
From the moment the OR nurses deliver the children to the PACU Nurses Jean Petro and Bruce Hickey things move quickly. They ensure that the vital signs are stable, there is no unusual bleeding and any apparent sign of pain is quickly alleviated. Each child is also given oxygen for about 30 minutes through a hand crafted version of a “blow by” which Bruce has adorned with adorable stuffed animals in an attempt to make them less frightened when they wake up.
It is also here where our Pediatricians Bryan Stamm from Spokane,Washington and Mary Vader from Montrose, Colorado check in to ensure everything is as it should be. Finally when it is time to bring in mom or dad it is definitely the moment when the magic of working in PACU is evident.
Bruce Hickey, PACU nurse is on his 3rd Rotaplast Mission.
Jean Petro, PACU Lead Nurse from Spokane, Washington is on her 8th Rotaplast Mission