I would like to express my gratitude for Diane Harper, whose diligence and astute clinical skills allowed for the quick diagnosis and appropriate treatment of a young patient who suffered an unlikely cardiac event following spinal surgery. I was the physician on call, and was impressed with the excellent care this patient received, allowing for a good outcome in spite of unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances.
Diane Harper came to work at UT Medical Center in March of 1969 after graduating from ETSU with her BSN. She has worked in various units, such as medical and trauma, and is now working in an orthopedic and spine unit. Her calm demeanor, listening skills, and experience-based knowledge are an asset to patients, their families, and co-workers. She exhibits compassion with all her patients, even when they are "difficult" for most staff to deal with. Diane Harper continues to take advantage of learning opportunities and involvement in professional organizations, even though she is getting close to retirement from her career. Diane was the first RN on the Joint Replacement Center to receive orthopedic certification.
She reaches out to the community by presenting at health fairs to promote a positive image of joint replacement at UT. She is an excellent preceptor for new employees. Her strong education skills benefit staff as well as patients. Her contagious, upbeat manner has proven essential in keeping the positive morale in our Joint Replacement Center. She is a vital component to our team.
We admit "healthy" patients to our floor, as we have no telemetry beds. In February 2012, we admitted an elective spine surgery. This gentleman was in his early 40s with no notable medical or cardiac history. He had doctor orders to remain on bed rest, head of bed flat for 2 days, then increase head of bed at 6:00pm. The patient began to complain of a "heavy chest, indigestion, and belching". He also said the PCA was not helping with pain control. Diane notified the physician to obtain permission for a UTH consult for evaluation. Even though his vital signs were normal, an EKG was ordered. It was inconclusive. A second EKG showed an acute MI. The patient's labs indicated an elevated Troponin level of 7.25. After these findings, cardiology was consulted. He was transported by Diane and another staff member to CVICU. A heart cath showed 100% blockage, and a stent was placed by 9:00 pm. Diane remained by her patient, keeping him and his family calm. She relentlessly pursued consults, diagnostic results, and lab results. She kept everyone informed of the smallest details to alleviate any fears. Two nights later, Diane visited the patient after her shift. He greeted her with tears and a hug. He thanked her for saving his life.