A team approach to vascular surgery: like a “well-oiled machine”

They say “no man is an island” – and a surgeon is no exception.

Tucson Medical Center vascular surgeons are surrounded by teams of highly-trained, highly-experienced medical professionals, whether they are in the main operating room or in the catheterization lab.

The concept is simple.  Surround the surgeons with health care professionals who are so well-trained on every aspect of the procedure, they can predict what will happen next.  A team approach provides a safer, more efficient way to do things. 

Ed Salazar and Silver Palomino, TMC Special Procedure Technicians

Ed Salazar and Silver Palomino, TMC Special Procedure Technicians

Special procedure technicians Ed Salazar and Silver Palomino are key players on the OR team.  Their experience is measured in decades and their role during a procedure is invaluable.  Some of the key pieces they take care of include manning the control room and managing the software and imagery surgeons depend on while they operate. 

“The vascular department is very equipment intensive.  We have millions of dollars worth of devices we use.  They know how to use every piece, and they are a huge component in maintaining everything,” said Renee Paul, TMC Operating Room manager.  The pair has received extensive training on minimally invasive, or endovascular, procedures.

The remaining four members on this team are nurses and techs who have surgery backgrounds and therefore specialize in the open procedures.  “Our team provides a good balance because we have people with a working knowledge of both endovascular and open procedures.  It’s a wonderful complement to provide excellent care to all patients.  They will have that kind of specialty at hand, regardless of the type of procedure they’re having done,” said Paul.

TMC vascular surgeon Dr. Layla Lucas,Saguaro Surgical

TMC vascular surgeon Dr. Layla Lucas,
Saguaro Surgical

TMC vascular surgeon Dr. Layla Lucas from Saguaro Surgical said, “The quality of care is absolutely improved by having a team.  Patients have the peace of mind that everyone in the room with them knows exactly what’s going on from start to finish – not just the surgeon.  These teams are very savvy with new technology.  They are truly invested in vascular surgery and we partner with them in their commitment to provide patients the absolute best care.”

These team members offer physician and patient support.  This is especially valuable in TMC’s hybrid operating room, which can be used for a minimally invasive procedure and transformed to accommodate an open procedure in seconds if the need arises during surgery.  TMC will have a total of two hybrid operating rooms when the west campus opens up this spring.  Paul has plans to grow her team in order to accommodate the expansion. 

“Consistency from a specialized team leads to even greater patient safety,” said Paul.  “This team is comfortable with the surgeons.  The surgeons are comfortable with them.  Together, they are efficient, and work very methodically—like a well-oiled machine.”

The vascular team in the Cath Lab is much larger – about two-dozen people including nurses, radiology technologists and cardiovascular technologists.  Some of these employees have been at TMC for up to 30 years. 

“Experience matters,” said Roxanne Lee, Special Procedures/Cath Lab manager.  “This specialized team is really an asset because they take their training and knowledge and build on it.  They are so well-versed on every aspect of the procedure that they can actually recommend which piece of equipment will work best in a situation.”  The Cath Lab team is different from the OR team in that they also specialize in cardiac and radiology procedures in addition to having vascular expertise.

Both Paul and Lee said the feedback they receive is overwhelmingly positive.  “These physicians are very vocal that the team helps their cases go by quicker and easier with less stress,” said Lee.

TMC vascular surgeon Dr. Luis Leon, Agave Surgical

TMC vascular surgeon Dr. Luis Leon, Agave Surgical

“I have done vascular surgery with and without a team.  The team approach is key,” said TMC vascular surgeon Dr. Luis Leon from Agave Surgical.  “Doing a case with people who have that experience makes it so much easier because they can predict my next move, which is beneficial for everyone.  Their expertise also improves communication.  Additionally, since they’re so well trained on endovascular techniques, they can answer any questions the patient or family members may have.”

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Rd. | Tucson, AZ 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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