Hospital of Saint Raphael
Helping the (Heart) Beat Go On
An HSR nurse at the forefront of a movement to make lifesaving defibrillators much more widely available Working as a cardiac nurse has given Sherri Hopkins the chance to see a lot of miracles. But thereÂ’s also the other end of the spectrum.
Â“We see things sometimes when itÂ’s too late,Â” says Hopkins of patients suffering from cardiac arrest who cannot be saved.
For every minute that elapses following cardiac buy tramadol online no prescription says Hopkins, the survival rate declines by ten percent. PHOTO: Priscilla Searles
Hopkins, who works as a registered nurse at the Hospital of Saint Raphael, wants to increase such patientsÂ’ chances of surviving heart trauma. She has been on a crusade the past few years, educating patients and the public alike on the life-saving benefits of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs).
Â“For every minute that goes by without CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] or the shock of an AED, your chances of survival goes down by ten percent,Â” Hopkins explains. Â“The faster you apply an AED, the better the chance of survival is.Â” She adds that even for survivors, the longer the time span between the onset of an attack and eventual resuscitation, the greater the chance that heart and/or brain damage will occur. Â“ItÂ’s irreversible Â— you canÂ’t get that back,Â” says Hopkins.
An AED is an electronic device that assesses the immediate need of a person suffering from cardiac arrest and delivers a shock, or a series of shocks, as required. Instructive prompts guide the person administering the device on steps to take in using the device.
Immediate access is key, ambien online Hopkins. Â“The goal is to get an AED on a person within the first three minutes.Â”
ThatÂ’s why Hopkins has been advocating for installation on AEDs in public places, including offices and schools. A cofounder of the Connecticut chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association (SCAA), she has testified before the state legislature in Hartford about public need for the devices.
Â“My inspiration is a 17-year-old I met [there] who had been saved by an AED,Â” says Hopkins. The teen inspired Hopkins to push even harder in her quest to make AEDs accessible in schools. With teens, previously undetected cardiac problems can become manifest during athletic practices and events, she adds.
Hopkins also wants to create a formal network of Connecticut-based cardiac arrest survivors, especially those who were resuscitated with AEDs. She believes not only that they can serve as an extended support system, but also help educate the public about the importance of AEDs.
Hopkins personally spends a lot of time doing just that.
Â“Now that IÂ’m a nurse, my favorite thing to do is teaching patients. I believe that if patients are educated, that will help them stay out of the hospital,Â” she says.
Though sure about her mission now, Hopkins, 39, didnÂ’t always know she was destined for a career in health care. She jokes that she settled on nursing by process of elimination.
Â“I went to Derby High School. One day my high school guidance counselor said, Â‘What do you want to be?Â’Â” recalls Hopkins, a Derby native. She perused a list that included choices such as accounting, social work and psychology, as well as nursing. She made a mental note of the careers she did not want (accounting was definitely out) leaving the possibilities, nursing among them.
Â“I always wanted to help people,Â” she says, Â“and I enjoy the sciences.Â”
After making the decision, Hopkins prepared for a career in health care. She studied nursing at American International College in Springfield, Mass., and decided to specialize in cardiac nursing.
Â“I just find the heart fascinating,Â” she says, noting that the life-sustaining organ often is taken for granted. Â“We donÂ’t think about it. We donÂ’t think about how our hearts beat. IÂ’m fascinated by the heart and what it does Â— the function of its muscles.Â”
SheÂ’s been at St. RaphaelÂ’s since 1993, working first as a CNA/student nurse. Two years later she joined the staff as an RN. Her dedication over the years has made her the most recent recipient of the hospitalÂ’s Nurse of the Year Award.
Â“I love the St. Raphael community,Â” Hopkins says. Â“I think they have something special there. It doesnÂ’t feel valium online. It doesnÂ’t have that sterile feel to it.Â”
HopkinsÂ’ supervisor, Sharon Wood, RN, describes Hopkins as a Â“motivator.
Â“She just is a doer,Â” says Wood, who is HSRÂ’s manager of nursing resources. Â“She was always the one to get everybody motivated, so it didnÂ’t surprise me when she got involved with the school systemÂ” to encourage AED acquisition. WhatÂ’s more, says Wood, Â“It doesnÂ’t surprise me she is now getting this [BNH Healthcare Hero] honor. Whenever I need something done, sheÂ’s my go-to person. SheÂ’s wonderful, and has a lot of energy. She inspires me to do more.Â”
Wood adds that the BNH and other outside honors, along with the hospitalÂ’s own recognition of Hopkins, may well lead to even greater responsibility and leadership roles. Â“Some day sheÂ’ll make a wonderful [hospital] official,Â” predicts Wood.
Hopkins lives in Naugatuck with her husband Peter and their children, boys aged 12 and ten and nine-year-old twin girls. That brood provides an added incentive for speaking to parent groups about the importance of having AEDs in schools.
Â“Think of the time it could take for 911 to get there,Â” says Hopkins, adding that not all law-enforcement vehicles are equipped with AEDs in case of an emergency. Hopkins notes that Good Samaritan laws cover AEDs, releasing from liability anyone who might be reluctant to use the device for fear of being sued for inadvertent mishaps.
As Hopkins focuses, through SCAA, on enlisting others to discuss how an AED saved their lives, sheÂ’s intent on expanding the Connecticut chapter. Â“WeÂ’re searching for survivors and ativan generic she says, Â“or even if theyÂ’ve lost somebody to cardiac arrest. One woman in the chapter was instrumental in getting AEDs in airlines. Her husband died in-flight [after suffering from cardiac arrest]. They had nothing for him and he died. She wants to do something Â— she feels driven to do something about it.Â”
Whether in offices, schools or other public places, Hopkins plans to continue getting the word out about how important it is to have AEDs readily available on the premises to increase the chances of surviving cardiac arrest.
Â“ItÂ’s the leading cause of death; 300,000 people a year die from cardiac arrest,Â” says Hopkins. When [a person dies from cardiac arrest] thereÂ’s a chain reaction. SomebodyÂ’s life will get changed. When you really think about it, peopleÂ’s lives are affected through education.
Â“I just feel like I have this information and I donÂ’t want to keep it to myself.Â”
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