Rush Nurse a Source of Comfort in a Difficult Time

By Nancy DiFiore

When a patient begins to recover from surgery, emotions and anxiety can run high. Coming out of anesthesia may be difficult and disorienting, and inevitably, some patients will experience discomfort or pain after undergoing a surgical procedure.

Sarah Horvath, RN, BSN, staff nurse in the ambulatory surgery unit and the postanesthesia care unit at Rush, does all she can to help ease patients’ symptoms and anxieties when they are in recovery.

“I try to make things a little better for them, a little more comfortable. As much as possible, I try to help them by decreasing their pain and reducing their fear by keeping them as informed as possible,” Horvath says.

In recognition of her dedication to providing the best possible care and enhancing the patient experience, Horvath was chosen to receive this year’s “Star of the Year” Award.

This award is unique compared to other awards that are given at Rush, because recipients aren’t nominated by a Rush University Medical Center colleague. Instead, the award is given to one of the Rush employees whom patients mention by name in the comments of the Medical Center’s patient satisfaction surveys. Approximately 20 members of the Rush community receive a Patient Satisfaction Star Award each year, and one is chosen annually as the “Star of the Year.”

One particular patient who took notice of Horvath’s compassion wrote, “My nurse in the secondary recovery, Sarah Horvath, was amazing. I was ill, and she was taking care of me with genuine care. She also walked to one of the entrances to get my husband because it was after hours. She then wheeled me (with my husband) from the fifth floor atrium to the parking garage so that we would not get lost.”

Horvath has worked in several clinical areas over the four years she’s been at Rush, but she feels she’s had the biggest impact on patients in the ASU and PA CU.

These units receive patients of all ages recovering from anesthesia following procedures performed anywhere from the endoscopy lab to the operating room.

Horvath says that helping patients through their first hours of post-surgical recovery is a collaborative effort. “These are units where there’s a great deal of teamwork,” she observes. “We all work together to make each patient feel more comfortable, feel better,” Horvath says.

That kind of teamwork is particularly important, because the ASU and PA CU work with a widely varying number and type of patients each day, rather than caring for an assigned number of patients with a specific type of condition. Even while juggling these multiple competing demands on her time, Horvath provides patients and their families with her undivided attention and a steadying presence.

“In addition to having excellent clinical skills, Sarah brings a strong service focus in all that she does,” says Kimberly Humbarger, RN, BSN, unit director, ambulatory surgery/post anesthesia recovery. “She is always calm and friendly in her interactions, which puts the patients at ease. She is thorough in her delivery of care and during the review of discharge instructions always tries to ensure that patients and their families are well prepared for the care required at home.”

Horvath is modest about her efforts, saying that she just is providing the kind of care that’s required by the responsibility entrusted to her and the ASU and PA CU. “The opportunity to provide compassionate care for a patient during one of the toughest days of their lives is not to be taken lightly,” she reflects. “I only hope that we are able to make a calming and caring difference for each individual patient that enters our unit.”

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