What happens in the WMC W.A.R.R. room?

By Sally Ann Vasquez Jul 2, 2018

Pictured above, Front row: Carolynn Heaton, CNA,CCT; Deanna Soller, CNA,CCT; Sally Ann Vasquez, CNA,CCT,Phlebotomist,MA; and Lisa Gunyan, CNA,CCT,EMT. Second row: Alexis Muszynski, MT; Emily Erffmeyer, MT; Tammy Haverlock CNA,CCT; Lia Haskett, CNA,CCT; Alicia Pearce, CNA,CCT; and Suzanne Mullen, MT. Back row: Lana Dennis, PCU and W.A.R.R. manager; Amanda BeVier, patient family advocate.

Cardiac monitor techs in the WMC Warning Arrhythmia Response Room (W.A.R.R.) are always watching a patient's vital signs, even when a nurse or physician can't be in the patient's room. 

During a 12-hour shift, each tech continuously monitors the heart rhythms and vital signs of up to 40 patients at a time from displays on large computer screens in a centralized room near the hospital's South Link lobby. We examine the heartbeat patterns on electrocardiograph monitors and make note of irregular rhythms and monitor changes. 

We monitor patients on several units including Intensive Care, Progressive Care, Medical, Neuro, Pediatrics and Outpatients. For ICU patients, cardiac monitor techs continously monitor EKG rhythms, blood pressures, heart rates, inter-beat intervals, blood oxygen levels, heart lines and more. We print EKG strips, chart any changes and make notes of baseline EKG, new arrhythias and heart rate changes.

When we see something irregular, we inform floor nurses via telephone. We print full disclosures of any disturbance of the patient's cardiac rhythm or other irregularity.

Nurses are in the constant contact with the cardiac monitor techs in the W.A.R.R. room.

For example, when a nurse administers heart medication, they call to tell the patient's monitor tech to look for any changes in their heart rhythms. We post the EKG strip in the patient's chart every 12 hours so it is available for each shift's care team. 

We also retrieve past events from a patient's vital charts at the request of a physician or nurse to better understand how they are responding to prescribed treatments and care.

After Sally Ann Vasquez (front left) completed her national certification in cardiac monitoring, she inspired other monitor techs to start the years-long process. They are, from left: Vasquez, Tammy Haverlock, Deanna Soller, Lia Haskett and Lisa Gunyan.

Cardiac monitor techs also manage the telemetry boxes – the small portable boxes that, when hooked up to patients, allow us to track their different vital signs on our monitors in the W.A.R.R. We admit and discharge patients in their chart from the telemetry box, and send the boxes to the floors where patients need them. If a connect lead becomes loose and stops sending us important signals, we let the floor nurse know so she can take care of the problem. 

We must know where are patients are at all times, whenever they are being transferred around the hospital. And we are in constant contact with the care floors and departments throughout the hospital.

Basically, when we are assigned to a patient, we watch their vital signs on our screens no matter where they go or what procedure they have in the hospital. In fact, we have a motto: "In the W.A.R.R. room, we care about your heart and we will keep an eye on every beat it takes."

Last year, I earned my national certification in cardiac monitoring. National certification is a years-long process to further your education and, in turn, provide better patient care. Now, four other monitor techs have completed their national cardiac monitor exam, and I am proud of each of them.

Sally Ann Vasquez

Sally Ann Vasquez is a nationally certified Critical Care Tech in the WMC W.A.R.R.  – Warning Arrhythmia Response Room. She is also a C.N.A., phlebotomist, and medical assistant.