The Transitional Cardiac Care Unit
Home Away From Home
California Pacific Medical Center's Transitional Cardiac Care Unit (TCCU) is a special area of the hospital serving heart failure patients awaiting transplant. This 5-bed unit was developed to bring together heart failure patients and includes a "family room" with a computer, exercise equipment, sofa and TV for patients and families to congregate.
Following is a story about one patient's experience in the TCCU:
Bill Scholl told himself he wouldn't spend Christmas in the hospital, then Christmas came and went, and then New Year's. And then, less than a week later, on January 6, 2000, after one year of waiting at California Pacific Medical Center, and five years on the list, Bill Scholl got his heart transplant. One week after the operation, Scholl speaks like a veteran, but this ex-Marine is not talking about war, he's talking about the fight to keep his faith. "All the waiting has taught me one thing, never to lose faith," says a triumphant Scholl, as he smiles and shows his nurse how he can stand up on his own now.
Scholl spent the past year in the Transitional Cardiac Care Unit (TCCU) at California Pacific Medical Center. Like Scholl, the other patients here are in the process of waiting for a heart transplant and trying to prepare for the big day. This unit has a different feel than the rest of the hospital. For the patients here, there is their home and the nurses are like family.
"Patients sometimes have to wait a long time for a heart to become available," says Barbara Morales, RN, BSN, Unit Supervisor, "and they are too sick to do it at home." The nurses, physicians and other staff members are committed to making the environment as much like home as possible. Patients are encouraged to bring items from home such as photographs and books. In addition, the unit has a family room with televisions and a computer. And although the patients vary in age and ethnic background, the cozy environment and constant stream of visitors makes the unit very homelike. The unit has recently won a quality award and received donations for patient equipment, all reflective of this team's commitment.
But of course the ultimate goal is for patients to get a transplant and go home, to their real homes. Even after his successful operation, Bill Scholl wears a cap with a picture of a heart with wings. It reads: Let Today Be the Day. "I got this cap from another patient who had spent over a year here; he gave it to me as he was leaving after his transplant," says Scholl. "But I'm keeping it, to remind me to never lose hope.