CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - After 38 years on the job, a Charlotte nurse is hanging up her stethoscope.
Cindy Brenton started her nursing career at what was then known as Charlotte Memorial Hospital, after graduating from UNC Charlotte. She worked in the medical intensive care unit, the trauma intensive care unit, and then moved into nurse management.
After 38 years at the same hospital, she’s retiring on Friday as Assistant Vice President of Patient Care at Carolinas Medical Center.
“I felt like it was my calling. I never wanted to be anything other than a nurse,” Brenton said.
She says the most thrilling part of her career has been watching advancements in medicine.
“I was here working as a nurse when we did our first heart transplant. I can remember the day that was done and how huge that was. And now we’re doing total artificial hearts and it’s just crazy what we can do and the life changes we’re making for patients,” Brenton said.
When she became a nurse, she was working during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Now, she’s retiring amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
“In both situations when it first came, very scary, the unknown, what are we dealing with, how do we protect ourselves,” Brenton said.
She says what they learned from the AIDs epidemic set standards in medicine for years to come.
“From what I recall that’s when we really started looking at personal protective equipment, we started wearing gloves more often, back then you just did things,” Brenton said. “You didn’t think twice about going in and touching a patient or doing things with a patient with your bare hands.”
She’s certain the medical industry is learning from the coronavirus pandemic, and we will be better prepared if something like this were to ever happen again.
“I think we’ve learned a lot about planning for surges,” Brenton said. “Disaster planning, because that’s truly what we were planning for.”
She even believes the coronavirus pandemic will have an effect on how hospitals and medical facilities will be designed and built in the future.
“I’ve learned a lot about this building (Carolinas Medical Center). How much oxygen you can pipe through a wall, and how many ventilators you can support. So, we’re taking some of those learnings that as we’re planning for that building, thinking hey, this could happen again, hopefully not in our lifetimes, but it could happen again and is this building equipped to support a disaster of some sort,” Brenton said.
Brenton’s last day at Carolinas Medical Center is on Friday. She says she plans to spend more time with her husband in Wilmington, N.C.