Orlando Marrero is a graduate of Edison College in Fort Myers, Florida and is certified as a registered cardiovascular invasive specialist (RCIS). He was a student of Jeff Davis, RRT, RCIS, FSICP, BA, director of the cardiovascular technology program at Edison College. Orlando has been practicing in the invasive cardiology field for over 20 years and has worked in many cath labs as well as in industry, as an endovascular clinical specialist at Cordis Corporation, a Johnson & Johnson company. Aside from his director position at Winter Haven Hospital, located in beautiful central Florida, Orlando is also currently teaching at Polk State College’s accredited cardiovascular technology program. He is a member of the Society of Invasive Cardiovascular Professionals (SICP) and has written for the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) RCIS exam.
Why did you choose to work in the invasive cardiology field?I joined the United States Navy at the age of 17 and scored the highest in the medical field. My choices were cath lab or nuclear medicine, I chose cardiology. At the age of 17, it sounded cool. I served in the military from 1985 to 1989, and worked in several naval hospitals throughout the U.S. The more I learned about cardiovascular hemodynamics and anatomy, the more interested I became in wanting to be the best. I chose to work in as many cases as possible in order to be exposed to a wide variety of scenarios.
Can you describe your role in the cardiovascular lab?Currently, I am the director of the cardiac cath lab and I am responsible for the day-to-day activity of the lab. I am also responsible for cardiac business development, supply negotiations, and the training and education of cardiovascular technologist (CVT) staff and students. I am still a team player. I do scrub and record cases on a daily basis and as much as possible.
What is the biggest challenge you see regarding your role?My motivation is a dedication to and passion regarding cardiovascular disease, and to ALWAYS be the best at what I do. I want my students and staff to remember me because I pushed them to be better, helped them to succeed and gave them all that I had.
When work gets stressful and you experience low moments (as we all do), what do you do to help keep your morale high?Things will always get better. Look at Haiti and people who have no food, the families without jobs and no hope. It is a great honor to work in the cath lab. People sometimes forget what an honor it is to do what I get to do every day! Does it really matter that my doctor is 20 minutes late? I work in the cath lab — what could be better?
Do you remember participating in your first invasive procedure?One that comes to mind was with Dr. Charles Croft in Melbourne, Florida, at Holmes Regional Medical Center. This case stands out because, as always with Dr. Charles Croft, it is at 2 am in the morning and a transfer from another hospital, and it has to be done. When the patient arrived, the Beatles were playing, as always. The patient was intubated and in cardiogenic shock. Back then, there was no door-to-balloon time, but we moved very quickly to save this man’s life. With Dr. Charles Croft, everything had to be perfect, even at 2 am, with one eye open. He always told me he would make me famous! He did not make me famous, but he made me the best. For his inability to accept status quo and always push me to be better, I do remember every case with him. He would always say, “Are you with me or against me?” He never said it lightly. Believe me, you always wanted to be with him.
If you could send a message back to yourself at the beginning of your cardiovascular career, what advice would you give?If I could send a message back to myself I would stress education, never stop learning, and dual licensures. Never stop growing as a person and be humble. Always be a step ahead!
Has anyone in particular been helpful to you in your growth as a cardiovascular professional?Many people have been helpful in my career. I have many thanks to give. I thank Dr. Charles Croft, Dr. Steven Karas, Matthew Litz, RT(R), RCIS, William “BUBBA” Valentine, Dr. Clay Sizemore and Dr. Zaheed Tai, and Robert Tingley, Guidant Regional Manager, for showing me the way to Melbourne. If anyone has taught me the most, it is always the people I work with, the staff of Winter Haven Hospital (my people). My big moment was coming to Winter Haven Hospital, a one-year-old interventional program, in 2005. I was asked to educate and train the staff, new and old. I have learned so much from training staff members who knew nothing (my turtles) to staff that knew some. I realized that everyone learns differently and you have to recognize how people learn in order to teach them. My greatest accomplishment is that since I have come to Winter Haven, all full-time CVTs have become RCIS-certified and all eligible nurses are CCRN-certified. I have accomplished a major goal and I challenge all cath labs to become 100-percent certified. Why not? What is there to lose? (Although I have been accused of running a cath lab sweat shop where labor laws do not apply!)
Where do you think the invasive cardiovascular field is headed?I am a very strong believer in the transradial technique. I am a very fortunate technologist to have learned this from Dr. Tai and Dr. Sizemore. We at Winter Haven Hospital are a center of excellence in the transradial technique. We offer hands-on training twice a month for this technique. You want to learn? Come over to sunny Winter Haven, Florida! Our field is also heading into unity with the ORs, especially with the surgeons. I feel the surgeons and interventional cardiologists will become one in surgery, especially with valvular heart disease. I also think all labs will need to become proficient in electrophysiology studies. My greatest fulfillment has been coming to work at the Bostick Heart Center at Winter Haven Hospital, where I am able to truly change someone’s life for the better. It can be opening an artery, showing a new student how to pan a table, or teaching a tech how to read a hemodynamic waveform. The ability to pass on knowledge is my greatest passion. That’s all I have… It’s TTW! Time to work! New Transradial Q&A Column: Ask the Expert! Coming in the May issue of CLD. Email your transradial question to Orlando Marrero, RCIS, MBA. Contact Orlando at: Orlando.Marrero@WinterHavenHospital.org