Last week we introduced Dr. Christina Michael, a Florida cardiologist that will be speaking at our upcoming symposium. As we get closer to the MitraClip Conference we would like to introduce you to another speaker, Elyce Kwasman, MSN, ACNP-BC. Elyce is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and the Valve Clinic Coordinator at Bethesda Hospital East. Elyce is the glue that holds the team together as she works tirelessly to coordinate the patient and the cardiovascular team to ensure a smooth and successful procedure.
As a sonographer myself, I was curious what happens behind the scenes after identifying a potential MitraClip patient. Elyce walked me through the process from screening through post-procedure follow-up. Meet Elyce…
I went to the University of Florida for my BSN and Emory University for my Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. I started my nursing career working for a hospital in Marietta, Georgia. After becoming an acute care NP, I joined Cleveland Clinic working in the cardiovascular intensive care unit. Wanting to move closer to home, I joined Palm Beach Gardens working in critical care medicine. Today, I work for Bethesda Heart Hospital as the Valve Clinical Coordinator.
I joined Bethesda in March 2015. After being out of the cardiac scene for 5 years, I was ready to return! I joined Bethesda as the valve clinical coordinator.
As the valve clinic coordinator, I see the patients in various stages throughout the process- basically the point person for the patient & staff. It starts with the consult and coordinating the TEE through to scheduling with the structural heart physician and cardiothoracic surgeon. I assess the patient and conduct screenings that include assessing the patient’s frailty and functionality. This assessment includes a review of the patient’s daily activity and independence along with a six minute walk test to assess shortness of breath and other signs and symptoms.
From there, I coordinate/run the valve clinic conference. The valve clinic is when the cardiovascular team gets together to review cases and determine who is a good candidate for the MitraClip procedure. The surgeon, anesthesiologists and cardiologist attend this meeting. Once the patient is approved for the procedure, I overlook the pre-op procedure and coordinate the scheduling of the MitraClip. After the MitraClip is placed, I follow the patient post-op and conduct a 30-day and 1-year follow-up evaluation, which includes an echo, walk test and questionnaire.
I am not directly involved in the procedure that is performed in the cardiac cath lab. However, I have been the coordinator for many patients who have either been approved for the MitraClip or declined. To-date, our facility has performed roughly 25 cases.
I love the patients and their families. It is rewarding to see the improvement in patients that were extremely symptomatic and unable to complete the six minute walk test prior to the procedure. It is a great feeling post-procedure to see the patient at follow-up and hear how much better they feel and how the quality of their life has changed.
Most of the patients are elderly and are scared about having a procedure on their heart. Some patients do not have family in the region so I enjoy being part of their support system and knowing I am making a difference. They appreciate the time and care I spend with them.
I do a lot of education with nursing about the MitraClip procedure. I am the point person for sonographers on the procedure date and time. As for surgeons and physicians, I am their go-to person from start to follow-up for the patients receiving the MitraClip.
I am a wife & mom to two little kids: 4-year old girl and 1-year old boy. We love to spend time together with the family on the weekends- going on walks & traveling. I also love to exercise (whenever I can)!
I am going to be sitting in on the mock valve meeting at the upcoming MitraClip conference. I will be sharing my part of the MitraClip process – from patient screening, to leading the valve conference, to pre-op procedures and post-op evaluation. This includes specific guidelines and procedures I personally conduct to evaluate the patient pre and post-MitraClip.
Elyce is a HUGE part in the MitraClip program at Bethesda Hospital. She is the go-to person for physicians, clinicians and the patient. She provides the best patient care and support to all patients & their families.
Judith Buckland, MBA, RDCS, FASE
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