Jo Stainsby, OHCA Public Information Director
Three registered nurses employed by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), including the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, were recently named as “Great 100 Nurses” for 2017 in Oklahoma.
Rebecca Pasternik-Ikard, Carolyn Reconnu-Shoffner and Maria Gutierrez were selected for the honor.
Pasternik-Ikard has been CEO of the OHCA, Oklahoma’s Medicaid agency, since Oct. 4, 2016. She has been with the agency for more than 20 years. She has a Juris Doctorate, a Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the OU College of Nursing. She has a background in burn nursing, as well as injury epidemiology.
Pasternik-Ikard also served OHCA as the State Medicaid Director. As CEO, she retained the State Medicaid Director title and performs many of the duties of that position.
Reconnu-Shoffner is the agency’s Assistant Director of Population Care Management (PCM). A graduate of Thiel College in Greenville, Penn., with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, she gained her clinical experience in orthopedic/neurosurgery/trauma at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Maryland, and Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Reconnu-Shoffner has been in the Case Management field for 27 years earning Certified Case Manager status in 1996. Her case management experience has been in the worker’s compensation, commercial group health and Medicaid arenas.
An employee of OHCA for more than 13 years, she has worked as a Case Management Supervisor, manager of the Health Management Program, and in her current Assistant Director role.
“The nursing profession has provided me and future nurses with so many different career paths in which to make a difference. Being in service to others is important to me so I love knowing that our work contributes to improvement in the lives of others,” Reconnu-Shoffner said.
Gutierrez, a 16-year employee of OHCA, began at the agency as an Exceptional Needs Coordinator and has worked her way up to PCM RN Supervisor. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Oklahoma City University. Before coming to OHCA, Gutierrez worked at Integris Baptist Medical hospital for 15 years as an organ transplant nurse and five years at City-County Health Department as a Children First nurse in the Home Visitation Program.
“In a nursing position, you have the opportunity to work with a variety of patients from the young to the elder patients,” Gutierrez said. “Nurses have to have knowledge of working with diverse populations and have the patience to deliver nursing care without judgments.”
According to their website, the Great 100 Nurses Foundation was founded by PK Scheerle, RN, in New Orleans 31 years ago. Since its founding, the Great 100 Celebrations have honored thousands of nurses across Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
“These exemplary Nurses are selected based on their concern for humanity, their contributions to the profession of Nursing, and their mentoring of others. It is a great honor in the life of the Nurse to be selected as a Great 100 Honoree and our Foundation helps each RN recognize themselves as Nurse Heroes,” the website reads. “While I’m humbled to be named a Great 100 Nurse, I’m honored to be working alongside employees such as Carolyn and Maria,” said CEO Pasternik-Ikard. “They are two excellent examples of the compassionate, dedicated and caring individuals who make up the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.”
The top nurses will be recognized during an award celebration in Tulsa on September 25.