Growing up with a father who was a general surgeon and a mother who was a nurse, Dr. T.S. Ahrend always knew he wanted to work in health care. He also knew he wanted to return home to Ada after college and his medical training.
In August, he did just that by joining Great Plains Anesthesia, which is based at Mercy Hospital Ada.
“I love being back at home and look forward to building new relationships and giving back to the community,” he said. “My goals here are to provide a safe, high-quality anesthetic to the community and work efficiently with our whole surgical team.”
Introducing the New Team
Since July 1, Great Plains Anesthesia has provided all anesthesia services at Mercy Hospital Ada. The group employs four physician anesthesiologists and one certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in Ada, and a group of 12 physicians and CRNAs in Ardmore.
Under the guidance of Dr. John Zanovich, medical director of Great Plains Anesthesia in Ada, Ahrend, Dr. Bill Baker, Dr. Joe Richards and CRNA Jerrie Moore provide a comprehensive menu of anesthesiology services to hospital patients in Ada, including anesthesiology for surgery; sedation; labor epidurals; spinal blocks for C-sections; placement of central and arterial lines; and advanced ultrasound-guided nerve blocks for post-operative pain control, which is a new service.
Since they have expertise in airway management, the team also helps with difficult intubations in the intensive care unit or emergency department.
Zanovich, Ahrend and Richards are all new to the anesthesia team in Ada. Baker and Moore worked with the previous anesthesia group in Ada that disbanded earlier this year.
Recently, Mercy began upgrading all of its anesthesia machines and installed automated dispensing cabinets in the operating rooms, which safely dispense medications in the operating room so a nurse does not have to leave surgery to get additional medications. This process saves time and could potentially save lives in emergency situations.
“We have an inventive, exciting group that’s open to new therapies and works well together and with the surgeons and nursing staff,” said Lezley Davidson, director of nursing for Perioperative Services at Mercy Hospital Ada. “They provide excellent care in everything they do.”
Over the last few months, the new anesthesia group has started providing ultrasound-guided nerve blocks for post-operative pain for patients having certain orthopedic surgeries, like knee replacements and shoulder surgeries.
When performing a nerve block, the anesthesiologist uses ultrasound guidance to place a needle next to the nerve and injects a local anesthetic to numb the body part that the surgeon is operating on for 24 hours.
Using this technique, the patient does not require as much anesthesia and wakes up more quickly after surgery. And, since pain is reduced, there is often little to no narcotic pain medication needed after surgery and patients can begin physical therapy sooner.
“Once they go to the recovery room, they can be discharged and go home much quicker,” said Zanovich. “They’re not zombies for the rest of the day. Within an hour of waking up from anesthesia, most patients are pretty much where they were when they walked in the door of the hospital.”
Ahrend and Richards both finished their residency programs over the summer and moved to the Ada area. They are excited to join the team at Mercy Hospital Ada and offer ultrasound-guided nerve blocks and other cutting-edge procedures.
“It’s really fun to be part of the change and to update the ORs and bring new techniques to the community,” said Ahrend.
In addition to ultrasound-guided nerve blocks, the team also started offering patient-controlled epidural analgesia, which was not previously offered to women in labor. With this technology, the anesthesiologist provides a lower dose of epidural analgesia initially and the patient can add more medication, as needed, up to a certain amount. By starting with the lower dose, women have more muscle strength for pushing.
“Overall, we want our patients to feel comfortable and to know they are in good hands,” said Zanovich. “We offer 24/7 coverage by an anesthesiologist in Ada, which means there is always a doctor behind the drape to personally care for emergencies at all hours, like gunshot wounds, open bone fractures or to care for a ruptured appendix in somebody’s child. Since we’ve always got somebody back there that the surgeons know, they have the peace of mind to focus completely on the operation at hand.”