Annemarie Kaan works at the heart of some of the most complex, logistically challenging areas of modern medicine. She is a clinical expert in heart and lung transplantation, cardiac critical care and implementing mechanical circulatory support devices, with more than 26 years of experience in these fields. Today she works as Lead with the Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Healthcare regional Heart Failure Strategy and as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver — roles where she is a fount of knowledge and support for patients and her fellow nurses.
“From the moment she arrived at St. Paul’s Hospital in 2001, she has been a pillar for the nurses in our program, guiding them through the very complicated care of all heart failure patients,” says Clinical Nurse Educator Marianne LeSage. “She is the expert we all turned to as our program grew.”
Annemarie has developed and implemented countless research projects and programs to improve the overall quality of care in her specialty. “She offers highly specialized training on ventricular assist devices to various cardiac units in Vancouver as well as centres and hospitals throughout British Columbia,” notes PHC Head of Cardiology Dr. Andrew Ignaszewski. “She draws on her considerable nursing expertise and communication skills to respectfully ask questions and sometimes challenge new procedures in VAD therapy. Her enthusiasm for patient care is infectious.”
Some advanced heart failure patients can spend many weeks or even months in hospital and Annemarie plays a pivotal role for these patients and their families. These patients are often cared for by multiple teams; cardiologists and surgeons change each week and other specialist services may not have a bigpicture plan in mind. Annemarie provides daily contact with teams, the patient and their family, while ensuring there is a detailed nursing care plan. “There was a patient with a VAD who had numerous complications over a 6-month hospital stay,” recalls Dr. Ignaszewski. “Annemarie communicated with the patient and family every day, responding to their concerns and ultimately driving a complex discharge planning process by thinking outside the box.”
Outside of the hospital, Annemarie is an Adjunct Professor in the University of British Columbia’s School of Nursing and has been a mentor for many graduate nursing students. “She is a very effective teacher,” says nurse colleague Wynne Chiu. “She sets an example for all nurses, reminding us that no matter what our role, at the bedside or at the administrative level, assisting patients with their needs is always central to the job.”
Annemarie is a strong advocate for nurses to participate in research and has been an investigator and co-investigator on major studies, such as ‘Using the Internet for Self-Management and Monitoring Patients with Heart Failure at a Distance’. She is also a member of the BC Alliance on Telehealth Policy and Research, which that has received many high-value research grants. “Through her mentorship, many nurses have been inspired to write their first abstract for submission to the annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress — and partly as a result, St. Paul’s Hospital has one of the highest number of abstracts accepted every year,” Chiu says.
Thanks to Annemarie’s hard work, patients and health care colleagues at Providence can breathe easier, knowing there is a true expert working at the heart of their organization.