Methodist Pre-Op Nurse Kept Shining After Patient's Surgery
Published: Aug. 7, 2019
When Lisa Smith arrived at Methodist Hospital for surgery on July 2, she had a pretty good idea of what to expect.
It was a routine procedure for Lisa, who has multiple sclerosis. She planned to put up with the discomfort of getting an IV, get her pain pump replaced, spend some time in a recovery room and then return home.
She didn’t expect any surprises. Then she met her pre-op nurse.
Someone to lean on
Peggy Zurek, BSN, RN, helps prepare patients for all kinds of surgery. She acts as an educator and someone to lean on, and she’s seen a range of emotions.
“It can be a stressful time, especially for new patients who are diagnosed with cancer or dealing with a lot of pain,” Zurek said. “You’re giving a lot of comfort to the patients. Alleviating a lot of anxiety sometimes. Anybody’s anxious to have surgery, period. It’s not something you just do every single day.”
Lisa was at the hospital for a new baclofen pump, which delivers the muscle relaxant to her spinal fluid. She owes her ability to walk to her first pump, which was inserted six years ago. Now it was time to replace the aging device.
It was nothing new for Lisa. But she admitted she can be a bit chatty when she’s nervous – and getting an IV made her a little uneasy. That was just fine for Zurek, a nurse with over 35 years of experience who loves getting to know patients.
The pair quickly discovered they had plenty to talk about. Lisa is a surgery scheduler at Methodist Physicians Clinic HealthWest. Zurek previously was a nurse at the same clinic, so they began to chat about mutual acquaintances.
“We had a lot of things in common,” Zurek said. “We had a really nice conversation. When you do that with patients, when you are able to have some commonality with them, it kind of helps to ease their anxiety and makes the experience much better.”
When it came time for Lisa’s IV, Zurek handled it like a pro.
“I have some anxiety about needles, so a lot of times I’ll explain that to them,” she said. “They don’t even notice when I stick ‘em and get their IV going. It kind of helps sharing that story with them.”
Said Lisa: “I didn’t even feel it. Next thing I know, she was done. It was a piece of cake.”
It was just one of the ways Zurek went above and beyond, Lisa said.
Lisa’s surgery was a success, but what came next blew her away. Zurek stopped by to see Lisa in the post-op recovery room.
“I don’t remember anybody ever doing that before, so I just thought that was very nice,” Lisa said.
“I don’t always get to see patients after surgery,” Zurek said. “But I wanted to follow up with her and see how it went.”
Lisa was so impressed that she wrote a note to hospital leaders, commending her entire care team and highlighting Zurek.
“Everyone I interacted with was just amazing,” she wrote. “I loved my experience at the main hospital.”
Supervisor proud, but not surprised
Ashley Sullivan BSN, RN, the service leader who oversees the pre-op department, isn’t surprised by Lisa’s praise.
“Peggy frequently goes the extra mile for her patients. The things that are important to them are important to her,” Sullivan said. “Peggy is the kind of employee that makes my job as a supervisor really rewarding. I believe she truly tries to live her life with a thankful and happy attitude, and it shows. We could all learn a thing or two from her!”
For her part, Zurek was humbled and thrilled to hear she made Lisa’s experience so positive.
“It makes you feel appreciated,” Zurek said. “It just reinforces the fact that I love doing what I do.”
Weeks later, Lisa still marvels at her experience. And if she sees Zurek again, she knows just what she’ll tell her: “Thank you for making it easy. I was kind of nervous, but she helped calm my nerves. And to keep up the good work. She does a damn good job.”
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