FORT WORTH, Texas — Medical training is helpful, but sometimes there’s no substitute for personal experience. So when patients go to the cath lab at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth, they get an extra dose of reassurance from nurse practitioner Jodi Wurst, M.S., FNP-C.
Less than a year ago, Wurst was relaxing on her back porch after an 11-hour shift when she went into cardiac arrest. Before she knew it, she was getting an implanted defibrillator, a device that shocks the heart to restore a normal heartbeat if a rapid or irregular heartbeat is detected.
“It happened on a Friday night,” Wurst said. “I got here late Friday, was transferred downtown (to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth) for the surgery and was back home Thursday.”
Sharing with patients
She often talks about her experience with patients, and recently helped an older woman who was extremely anxious about getting a pacemaker.
“We educated her and showed her videos, but the only part she focused on was that she could die,” said Lynda Bruce, R.N., PCC, a nurse in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). “She became really distraught and anxious, and her blood pressure was getting very high, but nothing we said was helping her.”
The patient asked to see a real pacemaker, to understand its size. When nurses on the unit couldn’t find one, they called Wurst in the cath lab to see if she had a model the patient could see.
“She was really worried about how big the scar was going to be, what it was going to look like,” Wurst said. “So I talked to her a lot about it and told her I had one. I said it really doesn’t impact your daily life at all.”
Wurst said she has always empathized with her patients, but her experience has made her even more understanding.
“It all hits you so fast, especially if you’re someone who’s had good health,” she said. “All of a sudden, they tell you that you need a pacemaker or a defibrillator, or you have to have a heart cath. You’re scared and worried. You thought you were healthy and then, boom, your heart’s bad and if you don’t get this done, you’re going to die.”
Her openness with patients is a clear example of Consumer Focus in action, said Becky Tucker, president of Texas Health Southwest.
“Texas Health is working very hard to be a consumer-centric organization that deeply understands and partners with each individual,” Tucker said. “This is exemplified by Jodi’s willingness to share her personal story to help connect and ease the concerns of our patients.”
She said Wurst’s talk made a huge difference for her patient.
“It just turned things around,” Bruce said. “The patient went from tearful and anxious to laughing and smiling. Her blood pressure came down. She was able to go into this with peace of mind.”
The patient had a successful surgery the following day and was released soon afterward.
“Seeing someone who had been through multiple procedures but was also a medical professional really set her mind at ease,” Bruce said. “Outcomes are better when a patient is comfortable and at peace. Without Jodi, she’d have gone, but she’d have gone under a great deal of stress.”
About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is a faith-based, nonprofit health system that cares for more patients in North Texas than any other provider. With a service area that consists of 16 counties and more than 7 million people, the system is committed to providing quality, coordinated care through its Texas Health Physicians Group and 29 hospital locations under the banners of Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley. Texas Health access points and services, ranging from acute-care hospitals and trauma centers to outpatient facilities and home health and preventive services, provide the full continuum of care for all stages of life. The system has more than 4,100 licensed hospital beds, 6,400 physicians with active staff privileges and more than 26,000 employees. For more information about Texas Health, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit www.TexasHealth.org.