VIDEO — Pain relief and sedation: Estes Park Health’s CRNAs are healthcare heroes

CRNA Sharon Amaya said part of her task is to ease the patient’s anxiety. (Photo by Wendy Rigby/Estes Park Health)

When it comes to providing pain relief and sedation, Estes Park Health’s advanced practice nurses called CRNAs are a critical part of the healthcare team. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists have a nursing degree, experience in critical care, and a specialized degree to practice anesthesia. The highly educated CRNA team at EPH has 40 years of experience between them.

Kaycee Simon is Estes Park Health’s lead CRNA. She said anesthesia is evolving and that’s good for patients.

“It’s not just anesthetic gas and lots of narcotics,” Simon explained. “There are different meds now that make patients be able to feel better after their procedure with better pain control without such heavy narcotics. We get them up and moving. That’s what helps them recover sooner.”

Alan Hunt is one of three full-time CRNAs who work at Estes Park Health. (Photo by Wendy Rigby/Estes Park Health)

A CRNA’s job starts before any procedure, as the nurse anesthetist reviews the patient’s chart and explains how the anesthesia will work. Sharon Amaya said part of her task is to ease the patient’s anxiety.

“In the short amount of time that you spend with them, trying to ease them in their mind and their physical being for the stressful situation that they’re about to endure is our job,” Amaya said. “We try to make it a pleasant experience instead of a negative experience.”

During a procedure in the operating room, CRNAs provide sedation and constantly monitor the patient’s vital signs, making sure they are breathing well, their blood pressure is fine and their response to the anesthesia is normal. Afterwards, they check on the patient to help them manage recovery, as CRNA Alan Hunt explained.

“I tell my wife all the time, ‘We get you to sleep, but more importantly we get you awake at the end of it,’” he emphasized.

Hunt said educating patients about what will happen during a procedure can set the stage for an easier experience.

“We love to have patients be comfortable before they go back,” he noted. “We understand it’s not a normal day. Anything we can do to make you more comfortable, we’re more than happy to do it.”

CRNAs often use regional blocks to create long-lasting pain control after a surgery or procedure.

“We have a very active patient population,” Simon commented. “I was once a recipient of a regional anesthetic. I know the value of what that did for me. I like being able to offer that to my patients as well.”

Hunt added, “A small amount of medication sometimes is all it takes. It provides pretty good pain relief for up to 20 hours sometimes.”

Kaycee Simon (right) is Estes Park Health’s lead CRNA. She said anesthesia is evolving and that’s good for patients. Photo by Wendy Rigby/Estes Park Health)

CRNAs are key to Estes Park Health’s operation. The staff says they like working in a small hospital setting.

“I find that in a smaller community, we tend to see our patients more than once,” Amaya said. “We recognize each other. I think that offers a nice level of comfort for them and for us.”

Simon chimed in that she feels like the focus is on the patient more in a smaller hospital setting.

“You’re not worried about getting as many patients through the door as you possibly can,” she stressed. “You have the time and the ability to focus on every single patient for their procedure.”

When preparing for a procedure that requires anesthesia, CRNAs say don’t rely on the internet. Feel free to call them in advance if you have questions about the kind of sedation they will use.

For great anesthesia care from providers who always focus on what’s safest for the patient, think Estes Park Health.