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Resuscitation Commitment Amidst Loss Demonstrates the Heart of HealthStream: Kerry Cicero

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of global mortality, accounting for more than 17 million deaths annually (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, 2014). In addition, the prevalence of heart disease is increasing while the survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) outside the hospital remain relatively low, ranging from just 2 to 11%. The survival rates for in-hospital SCA are only slightly better at 25%.

The Commitment to Improving CPR is Personal

Solving big problems in healthcare, like the low rate of success for resuscitation, is part of HealthStream’s DNA and a principle that we’ve enshrined in our corporate constitution. Promoting high quality CPR also embodies the HealthStream Vision, which is to improve the quality of healthcare by assessing and developing the people who deliver care. But this is more than just a business goal at HealthStream. Improving resuscitation becomes very personal when we consider that a close friend or family member may be affected by that low percentage of CPR success. Our goal is to improve resuscitation outcomes by helping many more healthcare professionals learn, adopt, and practice the latest science-based resuscitation guidelines.

HealthStream’s commitment to improving resuscitation rates is demonstrated across a wide swath of our workforce. When we spoke with employees, we were amazed at the impact CPR has had among them and their families. Here is one example:

Kerry Cicero, Vice President of Marketing

Cardiac health problems run in the family of HealthStream’s Vice President of Marketing, Kerry Cicero. This condition caused her two uncles to die prematurely, and she knows first-hand the dislocation and heartache that comes when a loved one, especially a parent, doesn’t survive a cardiac arrest.

When Cicero was 16, she lost her mother to a heart attack. A long history of cardiac weakness led to serious complications, especially when Cicero’s mother was pregnant with a younger sister, who was born when Cicero was 11. Ultimately, an attack of very high blood pressure made a quadruple bypass imperative—but she had to be moved to another hospital that was better equipped to handle such serious surgery. Cicero and several of her siblings were able to visit their mother as she was being prepped for the hospital transfer. The hospital staff reassured her that all would turn out okay and that they’d be able to see their mother after the surgery was complete. What they couldn’t know was that during the emergency transfer, Cicero’s mother would require CPR. It was successful in reviving her during the first attempt, but ultimately failed during the second. Arriving at the hospital, they met their tearful oldest brother, who had to break the news that their mother died in the helicopter en route to the hospital. Cicero shares that after her mother’s death, “the family had to split up and that was really hard.” However, Cicero and her older brothers vowed to stay close to their younger siblings, and offers, “We stayed very, very connected to each other.”

Cicero’s experience has made her exceptionally attentive to heart health and impact of high-quality CPR. She shares, “Because my family has such bad hearts, we all have this fear of having a heart attack. When HealthStream offered Basic Life Support (BLS) training, I jumped at the chance. Despite my worries, I found it wasn’t as difficult as I expected it to be. I was proud of myself for how well I was able to complete it, and it became really important to me that my children also become certified.”

“I am certified in CPR—my daughters are certified in CPR.”

Cicero offers, “I am certified in CPR—my daughters are certified in CPR. I am doing everything I can to ensure that I am going to be with my kids when they graduate from high school, when they get married, and when they have their children.” She tells us, “I have a friend whose husband dropped dead in front of her; she performed CPR on him for 45 minutes and saved his life.”

To help understand what resuscitation means to her and how her earlier loss has had an enormous impact on her family, Cicero emphasizes that “everybody that works in a healthcare environment should be trained on high-quality resuscitation. It’s their responsibility to know the most basic tasks of performing CPR and to understand how to resuscitate somebody. Cardiac arrest can happen at any time, at any place, and they need to be prepared. If you work in healthcare and you can know how to restart a heart, you’re going to have a huge impact on that person’s life, family, and a whole group of people.”

“I get to work at a company that promotes heart health, the wellness of the heart, and taking care of somebody’s heart.”

About HealthStream, Cicero adds, “The fact that I get to work at a company that promotes heart health, the wellness of the heart, and taking care of somebody’s heart adds a huge sense of accomplishment to my life. It gives me hope that I will be at my daughters’ weddings, see my grandchildren be born, and have a very long and healthy life. Plus, I am helping people that take care of the heart do their jobs better.”

Watch as Cicero and other HealthStream employees share their stories.

Learn more about our solutions for improving resuscitation.

References

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, “AHA Releases 2015 Heart and Stroke Statistics,” 12/30/2014, retrieved at http://www.sca-aware.org/sca-news/aha-releases-2015-heart-and-stroke-statistics.

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