Karen Shevlin is the cardiac catheter lab manager where she holds matron responsibilities. The cardiac catheter labs specialise in adult and paediatric diagnostic and intervention services, treating arrhythmias with EPS and devices.
She also writes and directs the annual Christmas show for the hospital, a hobby she has enjoyed greatly.
How did you come to your current position as cardiac catheter lab manager?
I began working 14 years ago, originally as a radiographer because I wanted to work in computed tomography (CT). I found that I enjoyed cardiac work and therefore took on extra responsibilities for the cath lab. After becoming a senior nurse with responsibilities, I later became deputy. Following my deputy position, I worked as superintendent and superintendent radiographer before becoming the cardiac catheter lab manager.
What does a typical day involve?
I am responsible for coordinating the activity of the labs and making sure patients are brought in for procedures in a timely manner. I ensure that the appropriate staff and resources are available for each case and coordinate immediate service to emergency transfers. Additionally, I attend service improvement meetings and develop cath lab audit reports.
What are some changes you have seen during your work at the hospital?
The case mix we receive has changed considerably. Previously we had many complex diagnostic procedures, but now we deal with these cases less. Instead, the cases we see now are usually longer, harder intervention procedures. I have also witnessed the improvement in the cath lab equipment and how the pressures of waiting times for patients have become more of a concern over the years. There has been an increase in cath lab involvement with the theatres department and staff today are expected to be more knowledgeable about other staff members' responsibilities than previously.
What are the best and worst things about your job?
The best thing about my job is that it is fun and challenging at the same time. Each day in the cath lab is different and finding ways to make the challenges you run across work is very rewarding. I also find it satisfying to be able to chat with patients both pre and post procedures, whether reassuring them before a procedure or letting them know everything went well after a procedure. The worst thing about my job is when things don’t go as planned, despite having a fantastic team.
How do you minimise the risk of the spread of hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA?
Patients carrying transmittable infections, like MRSA, are always placed last on the list of procedures for the day and are given special disposable gowns. Additionally, the labs are cleaned between every case as well as the lead gowns worn in the labs. Hand washing, awareness, hat and masks, and proper sterile patient preparation are important in helping minimise spread as well. Controlling the spread of infection is dependent on everyone working in the hospital and relies on a team effort.