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A Day in the Life: Mary Petersen, RN, St. Luke's Heart Valve Clinic Coordinator

May 05, 2021

It’s just after 7 a.m., and Mary Petersen is ready for another day leading St. Luke’s Heart Valve Clinic.

The Heart Valve Clinic, established in 2014, is a multi-specialty team of cardiovascular surgeons, interventional cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists and nurses who are committed to finding the best therapies for patients with structural heart disease or heart valve disease. Mary has served as the heart valve clinic coordinator since the clinic’s inception. 

In her role, she is the first and main point of contact for patients. Mary facilitates seamless care for patients who are or could potentially be candidates for valve procedures. From referrals and evaluations to testing and post-procedure, she is the glue between all of the moving parts in the process.  

“I evaluate patients with structural heart and valve disease,” she said. “When I meet with a patient, I spend about an hour educating them about valve disease. I go over the different testing modalities, what we look for in those tests and the various treatment arms available.” 

Mary then presents each patient’s data and situation during the Valve Clinic team’s weekly structural heart meeting. After reviewing each case, the team discusses surgical and/or non-surgical recommendations for each patient and confirms a plan. 

“We see if they are a candidate for a transcatheter approach or a surgical approach,” she said. “If it is transcatheter approach, they stay with the Valve Clinic.” 

Mary’s strong understanding of both cardiovascular and structural heart diseases runs deep. She joined St. Luke’s more than 35 years ago when the heart surgery program began. “I helped set up the Cardiovascular Step Down unit, and I took care of the first heart surgery patient at St. Luke’s,” she recalled.

And, her years in bedside nursing are reflected in her devotion to improving the quality of life for St. Luke’s heart patients. “I love helping our patients get better and have a better quality of life,” she said. “We work patients who are in their 80s and 90s. After they have been through the Valve Clinic, they are doing things within a week that they haven’t done in quite some time.”

On a day-to-day basis, Mary feels lucky to be able to pursue her passions along with such a dedicated team. “They’re problem solvers and incredibly talented,” she said. “This is a fabulous place to work. It’s family. Once you find your family, you stick with them.”