Margaret (Sue) Casaceli, RN, Cardiac Stress Lab, UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital
It's normal for patients to feel nervous before undergoing cardiac stress testing. "Patients can have anxiety about taking the test and what it may reveal," said Margaret "Sue" Casaceli, RN, who works in the Cardiac Stress Lab at UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital. What patients might not know, however, is that Sue and her fellow caregivers are preparing for their visit long before they arrive.
Sue reviews patients' medical records in advance to anticipate any questions or issues they might have. "When patients arrive, I welcome them to the lab," Sue said. "Then, I sit down with them for a one-to-one interview. I can tell if they're anxious or if their mood is serious, or if they're more relaxed. We tailor our approach to the patients' needs."
The lab performs different types of cardiac stress tests on both an in-patient and out-patient basis, including exercise treadmill tests, nuclear imaging stress tests, and stress testing with echocardiography. They work closely with the adjacent nuclear stress testing and echocardiography labs. "We're in our own little world down here," said Sue, who takes the time to allay patients' fears and address their concerns. She also contacts their cardiologists if she has any questions. "I tell patients I have 33 years of nursing experience. The exercise physiologist has 15 to 20 years. But we also have cardiology backup if we have any questions at all," Sue said. "When patients realize that we know a lot about them, that helps reassure them they're in good hands."
Sue puts her own heart into her work, so patients can have a positive experience. She and her fellow staff give patients ongoing reassurance to make the stress tests as comfortable as possible. Going the extra mile is just part of being a caregiver. Sue recalls a male patient who'd had a tough time recovering from an accident that left him paralyzed. Staff took extra time to talk with him about his situation and to make his visit as pleasant as possible. They even ordered him a special meal from the cafeteria. "He left saying thank you for the care and concern he received by all the members of the team here at Marlborough Hospital," Sue said. "In my home growing up, I was always taught to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I truly do treat patients the way that I would like myself, my family and friends to be treated!"