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Riley’s Unrivaled Nursing Neurosurgery Team

Blog Riley’s Unrivaled Nursing Neurosurgery Team

Every second of every day, two nurses are on call. They are ready to head to Riley at a moment’s notice to help save a child’s life.

The team is small. But it is mighty.

Eight people -- seven nurses and a surgical technician -- with the knowledge, expertise and composure to get through an emergent, adrenaline-induced, complex surgery to save a child’s life.

A child with brain injury or a crushed skull. A shattered vertebrae or a malignant tumor.

“We are all doing what we need to do for the sake of that little tiny person on the table,” says Dianne Seibold, clinical service coordinator for neurosurgery at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. “Even amid that organized chaos, it is like a symphony. It can be like a beautiful dance.”

Seibold heads that team of eight – the on-call nursing neurosurgery team -- along with her assistant clinical coordinator, Cheryl Trice.

It’s a group doing something rare. Riley is one of the few children’s hospitals in the nation that has an on-call nursing team for neurosurgery.  Each person on the team, including Seibold and Trice, take 12 on-call shifts each month to cover nights and weekends. That’s an average of 150 to 200 hours a month they have to be ready at a moment’s notice. 

“It is an unbelievably dedicated team of qualified nurses who make operating on nights and weekends safe and efficient,” says Jeffrey Raskin, M.D., a neurosurgeon at Riley. “This is a level of nursing care which is not typical in neurosurgery nationwide.”

In many hospitals, emergent neurosurgery cases are handled by general, on-call surgery nursing staff. At Riley, the team has been around for 15 years.

Seibold was a member of that first team, which started out with two nurses covering only weekends. But as the cases and procedures became more complex and the volume of patients increased, the team grew to round-the-clock coverage with more nurses.

Each month, it is Seibold’s job to plan out a complicated schedule that includes two people on call every minute. That ensures that if a neurosurgery case is coming in, the charge nurse knows exactly who to call.

“When you go in, you never know what case you’re going to get,” says Trice. “But you know you’re there for a reason, an important reason.”

Seibold calls it an honor to be part of the team.

“To know that you have the knowledge and skills that the surgeon really needs and values to the point that they will call you in, it’s a privilege,” says Seibold. “I’ve watched these surgeries for 30 years and I’m still amazed at what they are able to do. And you get to be part of that.”

More With Seibold

She’s been a nurse for nearly 35 years, starting at IU Health University Hospital on the neurosurgical floor. She always wanted to be in the operating room, so when a position for a general OR nurse opened at Riley, she made the move. Seibold worked about a year before moving to neurosurgery and has been there more than 30 years.

“What I love is you know you have the ability to save that child’s life in seconds,” she says. “When you have a kiddo that comes in with a head trauma, it’s a matter of time. We have seen these incredible stories of kids come in who should have never survived and they do. And we are part of that.”

Advice to new nurses: “Find a mentor, find somebody older than you with more experience than you and then just soak up what they have to teach you.”

How she gets through the tough times: She is a fourth degree black belt in karate. Working out helps her deal when she’s had a bad day.

More With Trice

She spent an entire career in the software business before she became a nurse at age 47, after her children had finished college.

“Working in an office environment never really did it for me, but I always had that dream,” she says.

To be a nurse. Nearly nine years ago, she came to Riley in the pediatric intensive care unit. Eighteen months later, she took a position in general surgery and then landed a job in neurosurgery.

“I really liked the complex cases and the equipment and technology,” Trice says. “That may come from that computer background, but I felt comfortable.”

Advice to new nurses: “You just have to remember that this career is about life long learning. There will always be new technology, new procedures and every child is different. We are always learning and I think that helps.”

How she gets through the tough times: Trice also likes to work out. “And as a team, we all support one another. So that helps a lot.”

Look for future stories featuring the rest of the team: Erica Inserra, Tylyn Bremer, Richard Jones, Janelle Leary, Natasha Morehouse and Eileen Staninger.

-- By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email dbenbow@iuhealth.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.

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