HCHS students view open-heart surgery

Several Harlan County High School students traded in their usual math and science classes for the opportunity to view live open heart surgery for a day.
Thanks to KentuckyOne Health’s Pulse of Surgery program, all members of the school’s gifted and talented program got the chance to witness a live tricuspid valve replacement last Wednesday. This, of course, is a very crucial open-heart surgery that is rarely made possible for public viewing.
The Pulse of Surgery program aims to present a realistic outlook on how the procedure works, introduce those interested in the medical field to new information regarding the branch and — most importantly — give students what could very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of them. They do this by taking students out of the classroom and into an authentic operating room via live on-screen broadcast.
Upon learning of the program, Gifted and Talented Coordinators Jeananne Lee and Kimberly Howard knew right away that it would be an extremely beneficial and eye-opening experience for students.
“I thought it was wonderful for the kids to be able to experience something like that. It’s not everyday you can just sit down and watch a live surgery and actually talk with the surgical team,” said Howard. “I especially feel like it was a great thing for those who are interested in the medical field.”
The event was hosted in the Harlan County High School auditorium by a science communicator from the Kentucky Science Center, Alison Hill, who managed to make the environment welcoming and friendly enough for students to ask questions without hesitation.
During the valve replacement, students were permitted to ask the surgical team any questions they wished so long as it did not involve disclosing the identity of the patient, who was only identified by his age (36) and gender (male). Tools used during the surgery were passed around the auditorium for each student to view, including a scalpel, electrocautery, structure needles, a surgical wipe and iodine film.
The surgery was performed by members of the surgical team at Jewish Hospital (a part of KentuckyOne Health) in Louisville. Team members included surgical assistant Teresa Ray, M.D. Jesse Jenkins, M.D. Bart Olash, nurse practitioner Deryl Francis, anesthesiologist Carey Pilo and nurse practitioner Kevin Swanner.