Gina Walther - Registered Nurse, Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit
Written by Evan Duxbury
Nursing has made up the backbone of St Paul’s Hospital since it was founded in 1894. The nursing school housed at SPH for over 60 years trained thousands of dedicated nurses, and Gina Walther is a great example of how that dedication continues to this day.
“I love the work I do and the supportive team at SPH, but I’m also very attached to my home, which is on a beautiful island off the Sunshine Coast. As a result, it takes me five and a half hours to get into work.”
Gina’s nursing career began at Victoria’s St. Joseph’s School of Nursing before she moved over to SPH in 1979. She eventually ended up working in what would become the Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit (CSICU).
“I’ve worked at Powell River Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital but I just loved the type of nursing I get to do with open heart surgery patients here at SPH.”
As a bedside RN in the CSICU, she monitors vital signs and adjusts medications to optimize patients’ heart function and relieve pain. She also offers support to the patient and the family to alleviate anxiety.
“In a very short span of time we’re usually able to take patients off the breathing machine and get them up and walking about. Seeing them make a lot of progress so quickly is very rewarding.”
Because SPH houses the Center for Excellence in Heart Surgery, the unit sees the province’s most complex patients. As a result, Gina’s team is regularly required to draw on their experience and their creativity.
“We have a wonderful team here, many different disciplines come together to deliver outstanding care. Our physicians and anesthetists are great to work with, we’re always bouncing ideas off each other.”
The quality of care provided by the CSICU team doesn’t go unnoticed by the patients they treat.
“Some patients spend a month or more with us, so it means a lot when they show how appreciative they are of our team and our work by coming back to visit. One young woman was so critically ill when she was here, many days we didn’t know if she’d make it. When she comes back, it brings tears to our eyes to see her doing so well. She doesn’t remember too much of her experience but still feels connected to us and the work we did.”
For anybody interested in nursing in the cardiac program, Gina recommends gaining a few years experience on the wards and asking about doing a job shadow for a few hours with her team. Providence provides funding for Critical Care Post Graduate Certificates through BCIT. These opportunities are generally promoted on our internal posting system in January, April and September.
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