Nurses Make the Greatest Difference – ICU Nurse

Michelle Kiec of Center Township followed her father’s advice when she decided to become a nurse. He saw she was personable and had a knack for taking care of people. After graduating from the Duquesne University School of Nursing in 1991, Michelle began a career at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), part of Allegheny Health Network (AHN). She has maintained a comforting presence at the bedside of patients ever since — Living Proof that great nurses make the greatest difference.

In the Cardiothoracic Surgical Intensive Care unit (ICU) at AGH, most of Michelle’s patients come to her after they undergo heart or lung surgery. Their conditions are very delicate, and their care needs are complex. Michelle manages their ventilators, monitors, and other life-sustaining equipment and assists with procedures.

But equally important is the personal care that Michelle bestows on her patients. They appreciate how she helps them bathe, comb their hair, or get out of bed. These tasks are easy to take for granted but not so easy after major surgery. Michelle helps her patients feel good about themselves. This makes it easier for them to stay positive and focus on recovery. 

Dedicated to helping others

According to Michelle, her work is exciting, invigorating, and rewarding. “I like that you can be skilled and help families get through the toughest times of their lives,” she said. “It’s very rewarding. I go home with a sense of accomplishment.”

Michelle recently bonded with a patient named June. June was recovering from transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) surgery. It is a revolutionary procedure that requires only a small incision in the groin area. It is less risky than open-heart surgery for elderly and other high-risk patients.

“June is a sweet lady,” she said. “She reminded me of my Italian grandma — my nana. She has a great spirit for life and a wonderful attitude. We just clicked.” Michelle also helped teach June about choosing heart-healthy foods and started her rehabilitation.

Great nurses make a difference

Nurses like Michelle make the difference in helping patients like June recover. Throughout National Nurses Week, May 6–12, 2017, and every day, AHN celebrates its more than 4,000 nurses. They provide high-quality, compassionate care to patients. Nurses are the key to advancing the organization’s many programs at more than 250 sites of care.

“Nurses are the heart and soul of the hospital,” said Michael Culig, MD, division director, cardiac surgery, at AHN’s Forbes Hospital. “Patients and families share the most time during care with nurses, some of it quite personal. The nurse knows when things are well and when things are bad. They are the main source of support and concern. Their contribution to healthcare is unsurpassed.”

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