by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
When Valir Rehabilitation Hospital Administrator Greg Welch sees Heather Martinez, RN, at his door he knows it’s for something important.
The visits aren’t frequent from the weekend house supervisor, but when they do occur Welch knows something good usually comes out of them.
“What I like is that she does some good critical thinking and she looks at what is right and best for the patient, not necessarily what’s right and best for me but let’s stay focused on the patient,” Welch said. “She always comes to me with ideas and I listen to them because they’re pretty much spot on.”
Martinez is working on two decades in nursing. And for the last five years Welch says she’s brought a calming influence to both Valir hospice and rehabilitation patients.
“It’s that understanding and commitment to patient care, that’s what she brings to the staff,” Welch said. “She’s a great educator for staff as well as families.”
Martinez spent 14 years in hospice nursing before deciding she needed a breather.
A new mom at the time, Martinez found that breath of fresh air helping rehabilitate patients.
“I loved Valir so much I didn’t want to leave the company,” said Martinez, who initially joined Valir in the hospice division. “My family was pretty good with it. My daughter thought my job was being always in my car or on the phone. She was kind of shocked and surprised I had more of a set schedule.”
Martinez makes the hour-and-forty-five minute drive in to the city from the Stratford area for her weekend day shifts.
“Dedication,” she laughs when asked about the drive.
Martinez says weekend census runs between 30 and 35 patients. And working with rehabilitation patients has opened up a new world for her and her patients.
“I was scared to death at first because I had been out of the hospital so long. I had to refocus myself and I think confidence is something you have to have,” Martinez said. “The move has been really educational because you get accustomed to certain things in nursing and you get specialized in that area that you work. I came over here and started building on the skills I fine-tuned in hospice but building them in a different direction. I started building more on disease process in the opposite way versus the end of life. It was retraining and re-educating.”
Martinez has worked for Valir for nearly five years, beginning in the hospice division.
She worked hospice for 14 years at another company before needing a change.
“I really just loved the company,” Martinez said of Valir. “I liked the core values because I really lived by them.”
Welch says Martinez has a calming influence on the staff.
“It was a little bit of change in the mindset but in all honesty nursing is nursing and that’s what I love about nursing,” Martinez said. “Here it’s an advocate for a different range. The advocate for hospice is for comfort and end of life. Here it’s being an advocate for the patients and being a voice for the families. A lot of times families feel (their loved ones) should be at 100 percent. We think that just because this happened they can go back to 100 percent.”
For the first time in a long time Martinez began actually discharging patients to go home.
That energized her like she never expected.
“It was a whole different thing,” Martinez said. “Here it was a focus on getting better and on discharge to go home. It was a complete turnaround.
“Here it’s more inspiring patients to be able to go home and be comfortable with the changes they have to face.”
Valir’s passionate and highly skilled treatment teams work with patients and their families to develop customized plans of care. Using an interdisciplinary approach, physicians, nurses, neuropsychologists and dieticians work in concert with respiratory, recreational, physical, occupational and speech therapists to create personalized treatment programs.
Valir Rehabilitation Hospital is Oklahoma’s only rehabilitation hospital that is accredited for Parkinson’s disease.
And as Martinez prepares to be a mother yet again she’s thankful that she’s found a place that will help her grow.