A Night In the Life of a Nurse at TriStar Portland ER

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By Hollie Deese

Bryant Galbreath didn’t always know he wanted to be a nurse. Born and raised in Goodlettsville, he first went into the military, doing corrections work with inmates for more than a decade before he began to look for a career change.

Nursing seemed to be just the right fit. In addition to a better schedule and pay, he felt it would be a positive change.

“I was burnt out working and wanted to help more people than were in prison,” he says. “I wanted a change for myself. So here I am.”

Galbreath has been with TriStar Portland ER since it opened January 2014 as a department of TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center, offering residents of Portland and northern Sumner County emergency care that just wasn’t easily available close-to-home since the previous area ER closed years previous.

Before that Galbreath spent a decade at the ER department of NorthCrest Medical Center in Robertson County.

“It is a lot smaller,” he says of Portland’s facility. “We only have eight beds here in the ER and two or three nurses. Over there we had eighteen beds and multiple nurses. When you get a major emergency situation or when you get really busy, it can get hairy fast because there’s not that many people to take care of it.”

But since TriStar Portland is a department of TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center, once you are admitted you are part of TriStar Health Network.

“If you needed to be transported elsewhere, you are in our hospital system to receive that high level of care,” says Sarah Adell with TriStar.

The Portland emergency room features more than 10,000 square feet of treatment space that includes eight private treatment rooms, an isolation room for infectious diseases, a trauma resuscitation room and a decontamination suite with a dedicated exterior entrance.

The facility opened at 7 p.m. on January 6th and within fifteen minutes was helping two patients. At the end of the first twelve-hour shift, eight patients had been helped.

“We’ll go from sheer boredom to full and overflowing and running wild in just a matter of minutes sometimes,” Galbreath says. “We see everything from ingrown toe nails and dental pains, all the way up to cardiac arrest and really everything in between.”

And while some predictors like severe weather can help Galbreath guess if it might be busy, there is really no way of knowing, other than each day is totally different from the next.

“If I could figure out a way to predict the flow in the ER, I’d be a rich man,” he jokes. “You just never know from minute to minute. There’s no rhyme or reason why we get a bunch of people at once. You never know when it’s going to happen.”

Galbreath likes the pace of the smaller ER too. “I like the fact that you can get in, take care of somebody and then get them situated fairly quickly.”

Still, there is downtime which Galbreath and his colleagues use to stock, clean and check equipment. “There’s always something to do,” he says. “I just like to stay busy.”

Don’t expect a visit to the ER to be your last interaction with the nursing staff. If you were seen today, then a few days later, expect a call from one of them to check on your well-being, even as things just keep getting busier, as every day more people learn about the facility.

“Word is still getting out that we’re here,” he says. “People thank us all the time for coming here. It’s a great career and great field to be in and it’s booming right now. “

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