Amber Cardenas

Amber Cardenas

Amber Cardenas, RN

Cardiopulmonary ICU
CAMC Memorial Hospital
Charleston, West Virginia
United States
His nurse, Amber, was committed to taking care of him no matter what our decision was.

My stepfather had COPD for years. He had a respiratory episode and was brought to the ER by ambulance and admitted to CPICU. He had developed pneumonia and other bacteria in his lungs. He was put on a ventilator. He was septic, blood pressure was 75/48 with drips as high as they could go, his temperature was 105.7. He was very sick.

We all knew it was worse this time than times before. The doctors and nurse had both explained that the outcome wouldn't be good. His nurse and the PA came and had an in-depth discussion with us in his room. If his weak body was able to fight the infection, he would need to be in rehab for an extended time and breathe with a ventilator and trachea for the rest of his life. He began having small strokes in the brain stem (I believe that's what it was).

His nurse, Amber, was committed to taking care of him no matter what our decision was. After a family conference, we decided it was best to let him go peacefully. She began getting things ready to d/c his drips and begin the process. All while attending to our questions and concerns. I asked if he'd be in pain or struggle and she said they'd keep him comfortable. They advised that most families don't like to be in the room when they d/c the drips and extubate. However, I asked if I could be there with him while they did. I felt he was already gone from us. But I didn't want him to be without family when it happened.

Amber agreed to let me stay. But before they started the process, she agreed to let us all visit individually with him to say our goodbyes or whatever else needed to be said. I think there were 10 or 12 of us so, this was a lengthy process. She never acted as if she was getting tired or annoyed that we were taking a while. In fact, she was comforting to us; she and the HUC at the desk brought us tissues, cups of water and the HUC at the desk put out battery flicker candle in front of his room. I noticed all of this and it was touching.

When we all had time with him, I told her we were finished. I, Amber, and the respiratory therapist went into the room. Amber started d/c'ing drips, one by one, the respiratory therapist began turning the vent down and extubating him. When they started the process, he had already gone into a heart block. But Amber continued treating him with care and respect. After she had finished, she turned the monitor off in the room. She told me that they would still monitor from the desk and that everyone that wanted to could come in the room to say our goodbyes.
We all came into the room; it wasn't long they officially had to call it. About 15 minutes passed and the doctor came, we all stepped out except Amber and the doctor. The doctor left and she let us come back in. She told us the official time and she still let us stay with him. I know they had things to do to prepare him. But she never rushed us.

After about 15 minutes, I suggested to the rest of the family that we go ahead and leave. I told Amber that we were finished, I thanked her and told her how much we appreciated her. She might not think I noticed, but I saw several times she had tears while discussing his care with us.

In my opinion, she portrays a true DAISY Nurse! Amber was committed to my stepfather and to our entire family's care. Even during his passing, she treated him and us with the utmost care and respect. Her empathy/sympathy for patients and family is one to hold as an example.