By Dr. Nadine Greiner
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Chapter 3: Trouble in the OR
Warm-hearted and kind, Dr. Yelyuk was celebrated in her field for her clinical leadership and avant-garde techniques. However, she had begun to blend her online business and her family into her work at the hospital, and the lack of separation was overwhelming her. The doctor was increasingly short tempered and indecisive, and her drive to perform more and more surgeries placed her colleagues and patients at risk. She needed help honing her leadership, teamwork, and stress management skills. Alice’s challenge was to effect changes before there was a disaster in the operating room.
“This is where I hang out with my family,” said Dr. Yelyuk, indicating the hospital cafeteria where she and Alice sat. “This is our living and dining room.”
“Oh, I consider my team my family,” she said, smiling. “Isn’t that wonderful, to have a second family in your workplace? Ah, there’s one now.”
She motioned to a young woman in hospital scrubs. “Mai Lee, come over here!
“Mai Lee, this is Dr. Alice. She’s my job coach. I’m so excited that I’m going to be working with her.”
Turning to Alice, she added, “Mai Lee is my daughter’s godmother and one of my best friends!”
They shook hands as Mai Lee blushed slightly at the doctor’s effusiveness.
“Mai Lee, Alice is going to observe a procedure tomorrow. I hope you’ll take special care of her and make sure that she gets to see everything.”
“Yes, certainly, Doctor.”
After Mai Lee had departed, Alice asked, “Are you sure you want me to observe a surgery?”
“Oh, absolutely! You’re my job coach. You have to see me on the job!”
Weeks 1-2: Complaints From the OR
Alice stood in a 10-square-foot room, looking down on four operating rooms; she could watch the surgeries through the windows or on one
of the four monitors that gave close-up views. With no place to sit, and dressed in scrubs, a hat, and gloves, she examined the OR. Mai Lee stood
next to her, readying instruments on a tray for the next surgery. On monitor number one, Alice could see Dr. Yelyuk performing a complex battery change for a pacemaker on a 74-year-old man.
“They’re going to have to stop the heart while they put in a new device,” said Mai Lee. “They call it a battery change, but it’s really a whole new device combined with a battery.”
Alice watched as Dr. Yelyuk worked on the patient’s chest, the techs handed her instruments, and the nurse monitored vital signs. Dr. Yelyuk
would pull out the old device, put in the new one, check to see that it’s working properly, start up the heart again. Alice was impressed at the
speed and efficiency of this life-giving procedure. A speedy ballet, with each dancer moving in rhythm to some unseen music.
“I have to go next door to talk to the nurses,” said Mai Lee, exiting to another small room where several patients lay on gurneys waiting to
be wheeled in for their surgeries. Alice knew that this was one area of concern; there had been complaints that some of Dr. Yelyuk’s patients
were waiting too long under anesthesia.
Alice discovered there actually were quite a number of complaints— from Dr. Yelyuk’s surgery team, the nursing staff, and the anesthesiologist.
These all came out during the 360-degree interview process. Although most people held warm feelings for the doctor, they were concerned about changes in her behavior over the last two years. She had become more rushed and irritable. She was indecisive, and changed her
mind about things without involving the techs or nurses in her decisions. And she had begun to ask the nurses to order meds—something only a
doctor should do.
The anesthesiologist, a small, Vietnamese American lady, was especially distressed. “She tells me to anesthetize the patients, but sometimes