Posted: November 12, 2016
Elaine Levesque

Deep in the heart of Grand River Hospital’s KW Campus, Elaine Levesque is among 60 perioperative nurses at Grand River Hospital who will be at your side through surgery.

While perioperative nursing is considered one of the largest nursing specialties in Canada, many people don’t quite understand exactly what these nurses do.

Perioperative nurses help patients by both providing medical and emotional support to patients who may be nervous about their procedure.

Elaine knows this nursing specialty well, as she’s been nursing for 34 years – 27 of them in the operating room (OR). She’s a registered nurse and a co-resource nurse for general surgery.

In addition to helping patients, she enjoys constantly learning something new about her department.

What do you enjoy about this field of care?

I enjoy this field because the change is fairly constant. We’re always, always learning something new, whether it’s working with new equipment, learning new techniques, or working alongside a new surgeon – it’s always an ongoing learning experience which is something I really enjoy.

How does it challenge you?

Some of the things that I enjoy about my job are also some of the things that make it challenging. Like I said, there is always new equipment, new surgeons, new staff that you have to learn to work with.

We work very closely with surgeons, anesthesiologists, assistants and of course other nurses, so your interpersonal skills as well as your nursing skills have to be in top form.

We also sometimes will get surgeries that are emergencies, so they aren’t booked. Those patients who come in and need to go to the OR right away aren’t necessarily prepared emotionally or physically so we try our best to make them feel safe and comfortable.

How many perioperative nurses work at GRH?

GRH has a total of 60 registered nurses and registered practical nurses in the perioperative department. However, we also have about 20 operating room attendants and clerical staff who are important to our team as well.

What do you most enjoy about working with patients?

Being their patient advocate. I like to give them their physical and psychological support that they need when they come into an intimidating environment like the OR.

Even for patients who are prepared and have known they were heading in for surgery for a long time, it can still be a very nerve-wracking experience which can be magnified even more when it’s emergency surgery. You just always want to make sure that they’re comfortable.

How do you make their experience better?

By being very compassionate.

We also have surgical safety checklists that the whole team uses, so we collaborate with that so everyone in the room is on the same page as far as being a patient advocate as well. We also follow ORNAC (Operating Room Nurses Association of Canada) standards as well as the policies and procedures that GRH has in place.

It’s all about professionalism, compassion and a positive attitude.

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