More than 20 years ago, Maria Suvacarov came to the United States from her home country of Macedonia with the love of science and medicine in her heart. Nursing seemed like the perfect profession.
When her son and daughter were young, she worked night shifts so she could be home when they returned from school. Today, her son is 8 years old and her daughter is 13 years old, allowing Suvacarov’s professional life to grow.
After years of being a bed-side nurse, the Roselle resident recently added additional roles: director and teacher.
“God created me to be an educator,” Suvacarov said. “I love teaching. I love engaging people. We are the eyes and ears of the doctors and that’s a pretty important job.”
But Suvacarov doesn’t just want to make one patient better; she wants to make them all better and knows the only way to do that is by changing her hospital’s statistics. When she joined the hospital, less than 10 percent of her unit’s nurses were certified. Today, that number is almost 45 percent of her ICU nurses at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.
A saying in a simple frame hangs above her desk: “A leader is someone who can take a group of people to a place they don’t think they can go.” Driven by the desire to provide excellent patient care, that’s exactly what she’s been doing for almost two decades and when there is a major project on the horizon, she asks to take the lead. When someone needs help figuring out a difficult case, she’s the first to raise her hand. She has risen from a bedside nurse to a top educator. She’s an exemplary clinician, teacher and role model to all.
In fact, Suvacarov led the way in implementing new groundbreaking hypothermia protocols for sudden cardiac arrest patients. She helped convince the family of the very first patient to try the procedure and takes enormous pride in that patient’s complete recovery.
Today, more than 25 patients have undergone the hypothermia therapy treatment. But before a single patient was treated, she trained more than 120 nurses – all of the nurses work in the emergency department, intensive care unit, and coronary care unit and neuro intensive care unit – on how to administer the innovative procedure.
Dr. Edgar Carell, an interventional cardiologist, credits Suvacarov for doing the research needed to make projects successful.
“She is the reason several projects were successful - including hypothermia therapy and the Impella ventricular assist device,” Dr. Carell said. “The thing that makes her special is that she doesn’t just research what’s in front of her. She looks at case studies from around the country and gathers as much literature as possible and becomes an expert everyone turns to.”