2016 Transplant Nurses Day
For patients needing an organ transplant, the process—from evaluation to transplantation—can feel pretty overwhelming. The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center helps its patients by offering a program that ensures they don’t navigate the complex process alone.
Each transplant patient is paired with a transplant nurse coordinator, who manages and facilitates the entire process, starting when a patient first contacts the center and continuing for years after the transplant surgery.
“Our transplant nurse coordinators create incredible relationships with these patients because they get to know them and their families so well,” says Gene Ridolfi, executive director of the Transplant Center.
The coordinators’ activities are wide-ranging. Among other duties, they manage the entire transplant evaluation process, answer patients’ questions and help them manage medications, and—after transplantation—help them take care of their new organs for the rest of their lives.
They also serve as liaisons between the patients and their physicians.
“The expertise and skill of experienced physicians is crucial to the success of any transplant program,” says Jeffrey Crippin, MD, medical director of the Transplant Center. “But our program couldn’t function without our nurse coordinators, who are committed to providing our patients with the care they need. Our coordinators serve as the eyes and ears of the physicians thanks to their close relationships with patients. Without these professionals, our transplant program wouldn’t have achieved the success that it has.”
The organ transplant program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is one of the top 10 in the country in both patient outcomes and patient volume. The high number of patients treated through the program makes the transplant coordinators’ role even more important.
“When patients call us with concerns or questions about lab tests or X-rays, for example, they speak with our transplant nurse coordinators,” says William Chapman, MD, surgical director of the center. “They are essential in helping physicians manage the number of patients we treat. They also are essential in helping us establish standardized, streamlined practices and approaches, which means we can help even more patients.”
There are more than 50 transplant nurse coordinators at Barnes-Jewish Hospital; each specializes in a specific type of organ transplant, such as lung, liver and kidney. Ridolfi describes the center’s coordinators as smart, autonomous, compassionate and empathetic.
“They’re an incredible team,” he says. “Through their consistent contact with and support of patients, they change the lives of the people they touch.”
Chapman says he values the center’s nurse coordinators for everything they do. “One of the things that distinguishes the center is the dedication and expertise of our transplant coordinators. Without their outstanding contributions, we would not have such a successful program.”