Nursing Excellence: Heart Lung Vascular Institute

Cardiac Cath Lab

The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab is a multidisciplinary department providing cardiac services for inpatient and outpatient adult populations. The Cardiac Catheterization Lab performs more than 8,200 procedures each year. The lab is available 24-hours a day for emergency procedures, while implementing the newest technology to improve patient outcomes. It is also the only facility in the Knoxville area providing lead extraction for pacemakers and ICDs. Cardiologists perform life-saving procedures, as well as, planned procedures to improve the quality of life for patients.

Diagnostic procedures include:

  • Electrophysiologic study
  • Endomyocardial biopsy
  • Fractional flow reserve/Instant flow reserve
  • Intravascular ultrasound
  • Left and right heart catheterization
  • Peripheral and renal arteriography
  • Three-dimensional transesophageal echocardiography (3D TEE)
  • Tilt table testing

Interventional procedures include:

  • Left ventricular assist device
  • Pericardiocentesis
  • Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA)
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention
  • Right ventricular assist device
  • Rotational atherectomy
  • Stenting of the coronary, renal, carotid, and peripheral arteries
  • Thrombectomy

Electrophysiologic procedures include:

  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy devices (CRT)
  • Catheter ablation for arrhythmias
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Implantable event recorder
  • Lead extraction
  • Permanent pacemaker
  • Temporary pacemaker

Structural heart procedures include:

  • Atrial septal defect closure
  • Balloon valvuloplasty
  • Patent foramen ovale closure
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
  • Mitral valve repair (Mitraclip)
  • Ventricular septal defect closure

Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit (CTSU) is a 32-bed telemetry unit, located on the seventh floor of the Heart Hospital, offering patients the most up-to-date treatments and innovations in cardiothoracic surgery procedures available.

As an integral component of the Heart Lung Vascular Institute, CTSU serves as a step-down unit for the CVICU, providing collaborative care for post open heart surgery (both CABG and Valve), Mini-Maze, VATS as well as other post-surgical cardiothoracic procedures. Our patient population is not limited to post-surgical care; based on demand and request, we serve other monitored patients requiring cardiac diagnostic test, treatments, infusions and observation, including patients with congestive heart failure.

Our expert staff is committed to delivering the highest quality of healthcare to a very high acuity patient population and frequently receive praise for providing excellent care with an extra special touch. We truly function with golden opportunities at the heart of leading-edge technology, research and education in collaboration with our cardio-thoracic surgeons, cardiologists and other physicians as well as a multidisciplinary patient management team. Last but not least, we recognize and value patient satisfaction as the very heart of our practice.

Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit

The Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) opened in April 2010 as the premiere unit to the Heart Hospital. The CVICU is a 24-bed unit that provides each patient with a private room, state of the art technologies and a family-centered model of patient care. Our nurses are specialized in caring for patients with intensive cardiovascular care needs.

In working collaboratively with the multidisciplinary team, we strive to exceed expected outcomes for patients who have experienced procedures or issues such as:

  • Post open-heart surgery
  • Thoracotomies
  • Esophagectomy
  • Aortic aneurysm repair
  • Acute myocardial infarction
  • Any other post-surgical cardiac condition requiring intensive hemodynamic monitoring and intervention
  • Cardiogenic and septic shock
  • Renal transplant
  • Vascular surgery

Our nurses are equipped with specialty training to also care for patients with devices such as:

  • Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT)
  • Impella
  • Intra-aortic balloon pump
  • ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation)
  • Spinal drains
  • Alsius cooling system for target temperature management

Endovascular Suite

Endovascular Services includes three hybrid OR suites and the Endovascular Recovery Unit (EVR).

The suites combine conventional open surgical and endovascular techniques to treat a variety of vascular diseases and conditions, including emergent aortic, venous, and arterial situations. The Endovascular Suites team performs more than 2,800 procedures annually and serves both adult and pediatric populations. The suites are staffed 24/7 year-round with:

  • Board-certified vascular surgeons
  • Vascular fellows
  • Registered nurses
  • Special imaging technologists
  • Certified surgical technicians

The Endovascular Recovery (EVR) Unit is an eight-bed unit providing specialized pre- and post-procedural care for our vascular clientele. Our EVR team aims to set the standard for outstanding patient care and patient experience.

Medical/Interventional Cardiology Unit

The Medical/Interventional Cardiology Unit is a 32-bed unit specializing in the care of patients with coronary artery disease requiring medical management and/or interventional treatment. The unit provides acute nursing care, including ongoing assessment, cardiac monitoring and dysrhythmia recognition, medication administration and cardioversion.

Our staff maintains a close relationship with the Cardiac Catheterization Lab to accommodate the increasing volume of patients undergoing procedures that require extended observation. A multidisciplinary approach, including Case Management, Clinical Nutrition, Pharmacy and Cardiac Rehabilitation is used to facilitate discharge planning. Many of our post cardiac intervention patients are discharged within 24 hours.

Some frequent diagnoses admitted to Medical/Interventional Cardiology Unit includes the following:

  • Post-angioplasty or coronary stent
  • Chest pain
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Transcatheter aortic valve repair/ replacement
  • Pacemaker/internal cardiac defibrillator insertion

Nurses with at least two years of direct patient care experience in cardiovascular nursing are given the opportunity to become professionally certified cardiovascular nurses (CV-BC) through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Pulmonary Medicine Unit

The Pulmonary Medicine Unit is a 32-bed acute care nursing unit located on the eighth floor of the west tower. The unit fosters a collaborative multidisciplinary team approach to provide exceptional care for patients with the region’s most complex respiratory/pulmonary disorders. This specialty team consists of:

  • Pulmonary physicians
  • Nurses with a passion for patient care specific to pulmonary disease processes
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Pharmacist
  • Unit-based respiratory therapists
  • Dieticians
  • Case manager
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation specialists
  • Physical therapists
  • Nursing assistants
  • Health unit coordinators
  • Nurse manager

The team members are committed to maintaining optimal patient outcomes while maximizing the educational benefit of a teaching hospital.

The patient population consists of patients with respiratory diseases such as COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, pneumonia, and COVID-19. The unit is an integral part of the Heart Lung Vascular Institute contributing to the only adult Cystic Fibrosis Center in the region and a leading Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic. These patients are cared for using the latest treatment therapies by pulmonologists, hospitalists, along with Internal Medicine and Family Practice residents under the direction of medical staff dedicated to teaching and research.

Vascular Surgery and Transplant Unit

The Vascular Surgery and Transplant Unit (VSTU) is a high acuity 32-bed intermediate care unit specializing in the care of patients with vascular disorders or disease and patients who have undergone kidney transplants. This multidisciplinary team was formed in 2002 to provide a focused approach to care for this growing population and its unique needs. The unit provides an intermediate level of care for patients where invasive monitoring and telemetry are available for patients undergoing surgical interventions. The VSTU provides collaborative care for the following:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair
  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Peripheral vascular bypass surgery
  • Amputations
  • Kidney transplantation

Nurses with at least two years of direct patient care experience with these populations are given the opportunity to become professionally certified cardiovascular nurses through the American Nurses Credentialing Center and certified clinical transplant nurses through the American Board for Transplant Certification.

In the Vascular Surgery and Transplant Unit, a multidisciplinary team, including patients and family, work together to promote recovery and return to optimal health. Nurses will have the opportunity to work closely with the CVICU team to care for post operative patients to ensure they have the most successful outcomes. VSTU nurses have the opportunity to be specialty trained in the following:

  • Post surgical monitoring and care
  • Cardiac drip monitoring and titration
  • Arterial lines
  • Collaboration with the vascular surgery and transplant team