A Heart-felt Symbol



When Sanford nurse Luci Holte decided to get a tattoo, she took some time thinking about what was important to her.

After more than 30 years of helping cardiac patients heal and thrive, a symbol promoting healthy hearts only made sense. Eight years ago she had a red dress inked on her right ankle, the logo of the "Go Red for Women" campaign – a movement to raise awareness of heart disease among women.

“Cardiovascular services are something I’m passionate about,” Luci says, as she flashes the tiny red tattoo. “It’s truly something heart-felt for me.”

A calling to care

Luci began her career in the heart department of Fargo’s St. Luke’s Hospital in 1980 and has spent her entire nursing career with cardiac patients. She discovered from the start that it was fulfilling to be part of a team that used the latest technological advances and comforting care to help patients improve their lives.

“You bond with these people,” she says, taking a break from her job helping to admit a new cardiac patient at the Sanford Heart Hospital Fargo. “You see the change in their health and how our education and our services can make them into a healthier, happier person.”

Over the years, Luci has seen the technology available to help heart patients get better and better. Doctors can diagnose heart disease at its earliest stages and have a variety of treatments available to help patients move on to a healthier, longer life. Patients spend less time in the hospital and recover faster from the new surgical techniques, she said.

“Everything is so much better,” Luci said. “We get people up and about and they get better so much more quickly.”

Working with the best

Luci, who helped the Fargo facility develop materials to prepare patients for surgery, said she respects and enjoys the nurses, technicians and doctors she works with every day. Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Roxanne Newman is one of the best she’s ever seen, the long-time nurse says.

“Dr. Newman continuously every day inspires me with her dedication, her abilities and her loyalty to Sanford Health,” Luci said. “There are so many reasons she is nationally known.”

Over the years, she’s also gotten to know her patients well. About 15 years ago, she helped one patient through an angiogram and heart surgery. The nurse later encountered him as he returned to the hospital for treatment of colon and lung cancer. Recently, she helped him prepare for surgery to put in a new port.

“He’s beaten the odds and is looking forward to a complete recovery,” Luci said. “We’re able to help people like him get better and better outcomes through research and treatment.”

A permanent symbol

Luci got her heart-health symbol tattoo as she was approaching her 50th birthday. Her two sisters were getting tattoos and encouraged her to join them.

She brought a copy of the red dress logo to the tattoo artist, approving his work before she allowed him to permanently etch it on her ankle. Luci and her sisters then went together on a mission trip to Mexico where she was helping with cardiac and health screenings.

Since then, she often answers questions about the little red symbol on her ankle. She’s happy to have an opportunity to remind people to take care of their heart, she says.

“Everybody says, ‘what is that on your ankle?’” she says. “I tell them it’s my symbol. It’s my love. Heart services.”

When patients ask Luci about their upcoming cardiac procedures at Sanford, she loves to show them her tattoo, assuring them that they’ll get the best care available anywhere for their hearts.

“I let them know that we do these kinds of procedures all the time and there’s nothing to worry about,” Luci says. “When they ask me how long I’ve been in cardiac services, I tell them, ‘Long enough to want one of these,’” she says, exposing her ankle with the tiny red dress. “If I can help make them more comfortable about this, I’m doing my job.”

Learn more about Sanford Heart.

Posted Date: February 2012

A Heart-felt Symbol

Luci Holte has cared for cardiac patients for over 30 years. This Sanford nurse takes her commitment to heart health so seriously that she wears a tattooed reminder to others to take care of their hearts.