Nurses save program that helps save lives

A group of nurses at Baylor College of Medicine recently stepped up to rescue the Basic Life Support certification program offered here, and in doing so, they’re teaching others the skills they need to save lives.

Nurses Day

From left to right, Joanna Martinez, Charlotte Mathis, Tamantha Johnson, Heather Gander, Liz Bernica, Mallory Gahm and Josie Sena

Basic Life Support certification is a requirement for all clinical faculty and staff at Baylor, and classes had long been conveniently offered right here on campus. But recently, the program found itself without any certified instructors. Chief Nursing Officer Melinda Eller put out the call for new instructors, and six nurses signed on to lead the program.

“Thanks to these nurses, the program is back up and running,” Eller said. “We’re so grateful to them for their leadership. They’re excellent examples of the outstanding nursing culture that we have here at Baylor.”

The nurses leading the program are Charlotte Mathis, diagnostic services; Liz Bernica, ambulatory operations; Mallory Gahm, Transition Medicine Clinic; Tamantha Johnson, patient business services; Johanna Martinez, rheumatology; and Josie Sena, department of medicine – hematology/oncology section.

The American Heart Association Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers is offered twice a month. It’s open to all Baylor faculty and staff, with priority to clinical employees directly involved in patient care.

The course covers cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and rescue breaths for both single and team rescuer scenarios. It covers how to assess and respond to adult and pediatric cardiac emergencies, including using an AED. The course also includes review of the Heimlich maneuver and how to respond to airway obstruction in adults and children.

The nurse leaders received training through the American Heart Association to become certified to teach the course. They say they were motivated to get involved because of the importance of knowing CPR and other lifesaving skills and the opportunity to teach those skills to others.

“I think everyone that works in a healthcare environment should know BLS. It’s a skill that everyone can be taught and can ultimately result in saving someone’s life,” said Mathis.

“I was so pleased when our director of nursing began this initiative, and I jumped at the chance to more fully educate Baylor employees about heart disease and how to perform CPR. The knowledge really can save lives,” said Johnson, an R.N. who formerly worked as a nurse at Baylor and now is in project management.

“I have always wanted to teach,” said Bernica. “This was a perfect opportunity for me to check that box and help Baylor meet their goal of maintaining BLS certification for all providers.”

Many also said they wanted to become more involved in the workplace. They credit their patients as the best part of working at Baylor.

“Our patients want to work with us and take their treatment plans very seriously,” Johnson said. “Because of this, we see better outcomes and the work is so rewarding because we have a true partnership with our patients.”

“I love focusing on the patient experience and how to improve it,” said Sena. “Baylor gives you the opportunity to directly make changes in patient care.”

These nurse leaders agree that outstanding colleagues are another benefit of working here. “I am very grateful for my team in Transition Medicine. We have a multidisciplinary group and collaborate well together,” said Gahm.

In addition to the great nurses who teach the Basic Life Support course, the program is coordinated by Heather Gander, manager in ambulatory operations. For more information on the course, call 713-798-6228.

May 6 – 12 is National Nurses Week. Remember to tell these six nurses – and all the nurses at Baylor – that they are appreciated!