Day in the Life

The "Physical Plant"

Lehigh Valley Health Network

Lehigh Valley Health Network

The main hospital is located at the crossroads of I-78 and Cedar Crest Boulevard in Salisbury Township just outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania. I have visited hospitals all over the world and I am proud to say that Lehigh Valley Hospital has the finest facilities and best location of any hospital I have ever known. Today, Lehigh Valley Hospital is recognized as one of the finest hospitals in the country providing excellent clinical care as well as education and research.

The Pool Pavilion

The Pool Pavilion is named after Leonard P. Pool, the founder of Lehigh Valley Hospital's Cedar Crest site.  Mr. Pool had a vision for our community; he wanted to ensure that people in our community would have access to the best possible health care.

The Lobby to the Pool Pavilion

The Jaindl Family Pavilion

The Jaindl Family Pavilion

The Jaindl Family Pavilion was named after Fred Jaindl and his family for their generous contribution to the construction of this building.

The Jandl Family Pavilion houses state of the art intensive care units, including a burn unit, trauma unit, pediatric and neonatal units, as well as adult medical and surgical intensive care.

Also located in the Jaindl Family Pavilion are our obstetrics units and nurseries.

Below is a view of the Jaindl Family Pavilion from the south side, showing the entrance to the emergency room.  We expanded our emergency room because of the high demand for its emergency and trauma services. 

South Side of the Jaindl Pavilion Former Governor Ridge making a dedication to the Jaindl Family Pavilion

The John and Dorothy Morgan Cancer Center

The John and Dorothy Morgan Cancer Center provides the finest and most up-to-date cancer treatment and care.

The Jaindl Family Pavilion

The Kasych Pavilion

The Kasych Pavilion houses the Transitional Open Heart Unit (TOHU), Burn Unit, and Medical Intensive Care Unit.

This "green-friendly" building has 150 private rooms, with flat screen televisions and lots of comforts for both the patients and their families.

The Kasych Pavilion

This modern office building is the location of our Cedar Crest Office:

1250 S. Cedar Crest Blvd. Suite 310
Allentown, PA 18103
610-402-6890

*Please note the large parking deck on the right. That's where you should park when coming to our office.  There is also valet parking available.

 

We also have an office at the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg Campus:

Our office address at the Muhlenberg Campus is:

2545 Schoenersville Road
Fourth Floor
Bethlehem, PA 18017
Phone: 484-884-1011
Well, so much for the physical plant.

Typical Day in My Life

This page is supposed to be "a day in the life" so how does it usually begin?

On most days, I try to wake up around 5:15 AM.  This usually should give me enough time to complete my patient rounds in the hospital before going to the operating room.

I don't seem to mind getting up so early, but I often don't get home until 7 or 8 PM, so there isn't much time, if any, during the week to see my family.

So, it's off to work.  By 6:30 or so I'm in the Open Heart Intensive Care Unit checking on my patients who I operated on the day before and then I make rounds in the Transitional Open Heart Unit and the other medical floors.

Prior to going to the operating room, I'll review the patient's cardiac catheterization films and/or x-rays, and then it's off to the operating room! Here I perform both heart and lung surgery.

I discuss more about heart and lung surgery on other pages.

On any given day, I'll perform 1 to 2 open heart procedures and/or 2 to 3 lung operations. Remember: "cardiothoracic" surgery involves operating on both heart and lungs, and sometimes esophagus and other structures in the chest. 

Interestingly, most cardiothoracic surgeons choose either heart or lung/chest surgery, but our surgeons have maintained a combined practice of both "cardiac" and "thoracic" surgery.

As you can see, the operating room can be a hectic place with lots of instruments and machinery, especially during complex open heart procedures.

Some operations, such as removal of part of a lung, can take as little as 1 to 2 hours to complete.  On the other hand, many complex open heart procedures can take as long as 4 to 8 hours.

I'm often asked how I can stand in one place for so many hours without a break?  Well, most of the time, as the surgeon, we are concentrating so much on the procedure that we don't notice the time.  The other point is that we all trained for many years, slowly building up to more and more complex procedures.

Even so, it is very difficult sometimes, especially if there are emergencies and the patients are quite ill.  In these cases, even after many hours in the operating room, we sometimes have to stay by the bedside for hours trying to stabilize the patient.

After the operation is completed, my open heart surgery patients will recover in the Open Heart Unit (OHU) for the first night.  The OHU is one of the many fine intensive care units at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Usually after only one night, the open heart surgery patients can leave the intensive care unit and go to the Transitional Open Heart Unit (TOHU). The patients will stay here for the remainder of their hospitalization, usually only 3 or 4 days.

My lung surgery patients usually go directly to the Transitional Open Heart Unit without requiring an intensive care unit.  Even though the care for heart and lung patients is different, the staff in TOHU have a tremendous experience of caring for both heart and lung patients.

Below are two IV (Intra-Venous) poles with stacks of medication pumps.  For very high risk patients, the doctors and nurses may have to adjust a variety of medications at one time in order to stabilize the patient.  Today, we are lucky to live in a time when the technology is there to save even the most ill of patients. Taking care of the patients after surgery is just as important as doing a good job in the operating room.

Unfortunately, a good part of every day for all of us in healthcare is paperwork!

Another part of my day is going to meetings.  We have a ton of meetings every week that we have to fit into an already busy schedule. In addition to writing progress notes and orders in the charts, we have to fill out data bank registries, flow charts, instructions to patients, prescriptions, letters to referring doctors, insurance forms, disability forms, and on and on.

In any given week I may attend: Surgical Grand Rounds, Cardiothoracic Surgery Mortality and Morbidity Conference, General Surgery Mortality and Morbidity Conference, Lung Tumor Board, Lung Cancer Clinic, The Lehigh Valley Heart and Lung Surgeons Business Meetings, Research Meetings, Education Meetings, and Hospital Administration Meetings.

I am also very involved in the community.  On May 1, 2012, I was honored to be selected to be the guest speaker at the Go Red for Women's Luncheon at DeSales University.  Below is the video of my presentation.

 

Of course, it's not all work and no play.  We show our support for our team by having academic receptions as well as holiday celebrations.

At the end of the day, I usually go to my office and read my mail. Often I have letters to dictate and patients to call on the phone. Then, just prior to going home, I always take one last walk through the open heart unit and transitional open heart unit to check on my patients.

At night, my partners and I rotate on duty for answering pages and emergencies.  It's not often, but sometimes we're up all night long with an emergency operation.  If that should occur, we unfortunately will need to cancel the next day's operations so we can get some rest.  No one likes to have their surgery postponed, but most patients understand that emergencies do occur from time to time.

Guess what is the best part of my day?  Going home to my family.  Many years ago when I left home for college, my father wrote me a letter in which he said, "I guess, Ray, a guy needs a reason to keep going and when things got a little heavy I would look at you and knew I had my reason.

Well, when I'm working hard late at night, or when I'm tired, or frustrated by all of the challenges of being a heart and lung surgeon today, I look at my family and I know I have my reason to keep going.

As Tom Hanks said playing Forrest Gump, "I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is..."

Thank you for sharing this day at work with me.  I hope you enjoy the rest of my website!