A Locum’s ScrapBook: TEAMING UP in Southern Indiana

FA 2016

Editor’s Note:

To view the entire “Locum’s ScrapBook” series- click here

My life is Family First and then Perfusion.  I switched from staff perfusionist to becoming a Locum’s traveler to make sure my kids and family would have a solid place to call home.  I travel because it puts me in charge of my life, it is challenging, and I enjoy learning new techniques, other ways of doing things, as well as getting exposure to alternate approaches and paradigms.  

So I took my show on the road.  As such, every once in awhile I will be dropping a few notes and pictures of places visited, and observations made.  In a sense, the beginning of a scrap book on Open Heart Surgery in America (and other places if possible).”

Enjoy 🙂


Heart Surgery in America

Well the title pretty much sums it up.  As you can see by the image above, I hit on “All 7’s” as I started my drive from the woods of mid-Michigan to Hospital #50.  7’s are a good luck charm… right?

This is a small heart program with a very dedicated team, that allows for few changes due to limited staffing.  Basically the team remains the same with one or two variations in the staffing makeup from day to day.

My stint here has been comprised of weekly visits, one two week assignment, and now I find myself on the tail end of the last week.  Most of the time, that’s all it would be, a brief stint at a small program, assignment competed- today is Friday, so let’s move on.  But that isn’t the case here, as I was very impressed with the staff, their dedication to the patient AND one another, the chief cardiac surgeon and his obvious compassion and bull-dogish tenacity in making surethe profession. his patients do well, and the sole perfusionist here, who clearly has given his entire professional life to the profession.

Most often we remain behind “virtual masks” as no one outside of the team, really knows or can understand the level of intricacy that is woven  in the matrix of all our lives on this team, and how the commitment in and of itself, never leaves you.  There is always a connection to what we do at work, even when at home, on call, on vacation, or administering to the routine things we do on a daily basis.  It all comes back full circle- to the heart room.

With that said, let me introduce some of these highly trained healthcare professionals to you 🙂

The Captain of the Ship


This is Dr. E.  The man has a machine like work ethic, but he is definitely NOT a machine.  His Colombian persona and accent give him an imposing flair, but behind all that is a surgeon that really cares about his patients, and he garners respect and admiration from his staff.  You can tell a lot about a man in a position of authority, by the manner in which he deals with hard decisions and stress.  Does he bark and growl at times?  Yes.  Is he hateful when he does it?  No.  It is just a mix of his culture, the demands of his position, the huge responsibility to make certain that the lady that was at death’s edge- and pleaded to him before her heart surgery “please don’t send me out in a pine box”, it is those factors that have shaped him into a demanding but very caring healer of hearts.  I applaud him, and he was a key factor for me wanting to come back for another work assignment.


Between cases- making some on-the-fly Trauma related decisions….


Opting to accept a serious Trauma case…

“Would you give your chest away to someone that’s not well trained?”

Yep…  He actually asked a passel of students that interestingly worded statement (he was talking about the chest incision).  This guy is a true character in the heart room. In my career, I have never seen as many students and observers in any heart room, even at large training facilities.  So why do we have so many students rotating through our heart program?  Because he LOVES to teach, and makes sure that his pupils (yeah the whole Aristotle teaching under the Oak tree mental image comes to the foreground here) and it is funny to see 6 students huddled close together like thin, nervous sardines, all waiting to answer his most passionate question of the day(see above).  I have to admit, the affect of transitioning from Spanish to English does forge some funny anecdotes and comments.  You need to visualize Al Pacino from Scarface as a cardiac surgeon, and that’s a pretty close comparison to the passion and attitude Dr E brings to the table.

The 1st Assistant


I never really get to see Scott’s face too often, cuz he’s always working, harvesting vein, first assisting, closing chests, or helping Dr E.

I really like this guy for his no-nonsense approach, his kindness, and his skill level.  The dedication is obvious, and our working together was mixed with a lot of unstated mutual respect.  Nice working with you bro 🙂

The Perfusionist and His EMR


I met Steve at the beginning of the year, and he was challenging to a degree.  Definitely knows his stuff as far as perfusion goes, and pretty authoritarian in doing it “his way”.

I have huge respect for this man, as a perfusionist and colleague, as well as his commitment to the heart team.  It is sad to say that outside of the team, he is clearly underestimated and  undervalued by his employers (He is not employed directly by the hospital- but by a separate entity) , which really doesn’t make any sense- since he is basically the ENTIRE perfusion department!  As member of the heart team however,  he is well respected and cherished by the staff for what he brings to the table.  He has a huge heart, and during his off time- he volunteers to help spiritually guide inmates at a local prison (yes- he is a Pastor). If it wasn’t for him- heart surgery in Terre Haute, well- it just wouldn’t be as solid.  Period.

It’s been a pleasure working with you Steve 🙂

He has spent a huge investment in terms of time, money, and passion to develop a very decent perfusion EMR record.  At first I didn’t really care for it, but I begrudgingly learned to use it, like it, and finally- RELY ON IT!  Yes Steve, you have a good product, and version 2.0 would and should be very competitive if you have assistance in marketing it and launching the Brand!  The name of the EMR system is PerfusioPro– and yes, it works very well at a fraction of the price most people have to shell out for less effective systems.  I reviewed this software in an earlier post that can me found here: 

Heart Nurses v. 2.0

Amy and Joan are more than just Heart Nurses- they are really decent and very dedicated.  Intelligent and witty as hell, they don’t miss a beat, and always carry their end of the work load, and more often than not- make sure that perfusion is on it’s toes and so forth.  Thanks guys for all the help and laughs.

So….. We have a sense of humor huh?

This cracked me up lol (no pun intended)

This is the last thing you see as you leave the OR 🙂