Commentary

October 26, 2012

Behind the red line

Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev., — Members working in the Operation Room at the Mike O’ Callaghan Federal Medical Center strive to provide the best medical support to military members and their families, and authorized DOD and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries.

From preparation to the end of surgery, these Airmen and civilians work around the clock, performing a variety of support specialties behind the red line.

OR staff are required to don surgical scrubs, head covering, and shoe covers to keep everything as clean and sterile as possible once behind the red line. All surgery procedures are conducted behind the red line.

“The OR supports 12 different Air Force and VA surgical specialties ranging from excision of skin lesions, to orthopedic joint replacement, to state of the art endovascular aneurysm repair,” said Maj. John Mansuy, 99th Surgical Operations Squadron interim flight commander.

With patients constantly being received and released, the OR staff ensures maintaining an organized process.

“Communication is the key in the OR,” said Capt. Chastity Williams, 99th Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse. “Our practice is always guided by the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses standards. We also use checklists to ensure critical stages of surgeries are accomplished in the same manner each time. Patient safety is always paramount.”

Surgery operations and airfield operations may be on opposite sides of the Air Force spectrum, but both require a great deal of precision and skill, Mansuy said.

“All of our nurses and technicians are as versatile as the F-16 Fighting Falcons on the flight line,” said Mansuy. “Our multirole, team players operate within multiple teams at any given time with a high degree of interchangeability. There are subject matter experts such as the surgical team leaders, but for the most part, given the high degree of training, when a surgical emergency arises at 2 a.m., whoever is there to take care of a patient will do a great job.”

A typical day consists of preparation to ensure safety followed by providing surgical care to beneficiaries.

“An average day at the OR begins with the first patients of the day typically being prepared for surgery followed by discussion and preparation for the slate of cases scheduled that day,” Mansay said. “Then the six main operating rooms get underway and provide high quality surgical care to our beneficiaries.”

If a situation arises that was unplanned, the OR staff is ready to react quickly and efficiently.

“If an emergency arises during the day, we consult with our surgeons and anesthesia providers to determine how to best safely and efficiently proceed with the emergency,” Mansay said. “It’s a dynamic, fast-paced environment operating within a framework of dignity, respect, and professionalism. I’m thrilled to be a part of it as the interim flight commander.”

For some who work in the OR, coming to work is more than a job that provides a sense of accomplishment, Williams said.

“If you ask anyone working in the Operating Room why they chose the OR, the answer seems to be the same, ‘surgery is exciting’,” Williams said. “It’s amazing what happens behind the red line that separates us from the rest of the hospital and every day is different.”

—See photo feature here.




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