NEW YORK NURSE: June/July 2012
by Erin Silk
When a New York City police officer was stabbed in the head on April 17, NYSNA member Carol McGowan was an integral part of his life-saving team at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
McGowan, an ICU nurse with a warm Scottish brogue, has helped many critical patients recover and recounts Officer Eder Loor’s injury, which barely missed a main artery, “He was a former EMS worker and he pulled the knife out himself. If it had been any closer to his cerebral artery, he would have died.”
McGowan stayed by Officer Loor’s bedside for two nights, performing neurological checks, evaluating range of motion and monitoring vitals – especially blood pressure. “He had quite a lot of visitors, relatives and concerned friends. This can be tiring for a patient so he was watched very closely.” She also paid special attention to Officer Loor’s pregnant wife, who would not leave his side. “I was concerned about her stress level. We often have to keep an eye on the patient’s family, too.”
McGowan has also had to lend a hand when she least expected it when a runner in the New York City Marathon collapsed in front of her apartment building. “I had the day off and was out cheering on the runners when I saw a man fall to the ground. After 45 seconds, no one was helping him and I realized he was not breathing.” Passersby panicked, so Carol jumped into action and performed CPR. Thanks to McGowan’s swift action, the runner survived and was treated at Mount Sinai where she was kept abreast of his progress. “It was great to be able to know he’d recovered,” she said.
McGowan hails from Scotland, but is a New Yoker at heart. “The City may have its issues, but here, everything is out in the open,” she says when comparing New York to Scotland. McGowan has worked at Mount Sinai for 18 years and counts long-time friend, and Mount Sinai mentor, Pat Holloman as one of her favorite colleagues. “What can I say about Pat? She’s one of the kindest, most genuine and interesting people I’ve ever met. There are not enough good words to describe her.”
For McGowan, a nurse’s place is in a union. “I’ve always been a member of a union. They’re a necessity and a very safe thing to have, especially in this day and age.” She attended the Special Meeting on May 17 at the Javit’s Center in New York and was overwhelmed by the outpouring of nurses speaking for themselves. “It was a wonderful experience…when I walked into that hall I thought ‘Wow! Something great is going to happen here today.’”