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Newly graduated nurses at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City now have a way to ease into the profession before they begin working with patients.
Mercy on Monday opened a nurse-resident Learning Center. The first cohort will complete a seven-week orientation at the center before moving up to the hospital units where they will work.
The Learning Center’s goal is to fill the gap between nursing school and professional practice. While there, new nurses, called nurse residents, will learn how to properly document patients’ charts and conduct assessments of commonly seen symptoms and disorders, as well as practice patient care fundamentals such as safe lifting techniques and code responses.
“It just felt like there really is a big gap between being a student nurse and being confident on the units,” said Mary Lawrence, who worked as a health educator before switching to nursing. “We get to really learn things before being thrown out there.”
Starting nursing can be intimidating for new graduates, Learning Center Manager Hope Knight said, but the hardest part is walking into a patient’s room and identifying oneself as a nurse.
“Hopefully, when they’re finished with this they can walk into any room and know, ‘What do I need to do?’” Knight said.
To complement the new approach, Mercy has changed its hiring process for newly graduated nurses. Instead of hiring nurses for specific units and sending them there, all newly graduated nurses will go through the Learning Center and be placed upon completion.
“I hire for Mercy and then we find that good fit,” Knight said.
Nurse-resident Indira Rai-Chaundhury, a former attorney and Air Force officer, found the approach particularly appealing.
“It shows from the very beginning that they’re interested in you staying here,” she said.
Nurse-resident Kristyn Noland stressed Mercy’s commitment to fitting people with the right jobs through the Learning Center orientation.
“I think this is really interesting because it gives you a broader overview of the mission of Mercy, but also gives you an idea of who you are as a nurse,” she said.
Chief Nursing Officer Karyl James worked to implement the Learning Center after researchers found such programs create more competent nurses and reduce turnover.
“Mercy is focused on taking care of the whole person – whether it’s patients or co-workers,” James said. “The Learning Center helps ease new nurses’ anxiety while improving their clinical skills. A confident, well-trained nurse is a great asset to a patient.”

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Coleen Valderrama, RN, Nurse Manager of Inpatient Rehab at Deaconess Hospital inspires others as they inspire her.

by Vickie Jenkins – Writer/Photographer


Have you ever met someone for the first time and suddenly, you can tell they are a pleasure to be around? That they have an interesting story to share? This is how I felt when I met Coleen Valderrama for the first time. Valderrama is the Nurse Manager of Inpatient Rehab at Deaconess hospital.
While going to school in 1974, Valderrama worked as a Nursing Assistant at Deaconess Hospital. She graduated from OSU in 1976. Even though she wanted to work at Deaconess, no positions were available. She went to University Hospital where she was hired on the spot. Over the years, she worked at University Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, and spent several years in the Peace Corps, living in Brazil. She came to Deaconess in 2003 and got her Bachelor’s Degree from OCU in 2008. Today, she is happy working at the place where it all began for her, Deaconess Hospital.
“Why did you become a nurse?” I ask. “Several family members were nurses including my mom. They all enjoyed the medical field. At age 14, I developed bone cancer in my shoulder and arm. At that time, there wasn’t any chemo or radiation so I had to have my arm amputated. I got such excellent care from the nurses, I decided that I wanted to be a nurse and help others. It left such an impact on my life. Even with the loss of an arm, I didn’t let that stop me. I was surrounded by supportive people. I am proud to say that I am a long time cancer survivor of 46 years. I have always tried to stay positive and have a bright outlook on the future. I know my life would have been different if I would have let my cancer stop me from being a nurse. I think Winston Churchill said it best, ‘Never give up, never give up, never give up.’ We don’t know the reason some things happen to us, and we may never know why but we need to believe in ourselves. Many have touched my life and I have touched many lives due to the cancer. All the encouragement I received over the years, I give to everyone in hopes that I might make a difference for them in a special way.”
“What is your biggest asset as a nurse?” I ask. “I think it is always staying positive and solving problems. I am always upbeat around the people I work with and sometimes, that can be hard to do when there are health issues, family crisis, financial worries, yet, we can’t worry. My role as a nurse manager is making sure the staff has everything they need as far as their patients go. I make sure the team depends on each other for team work. Reinforcing the patients that they will be taken care of and we will do the best we can.”
Asking Valderrama what keeps her motivated, she replies, “It’s each individual working as a team. We, as a team, care about our patients, and share a common goal of helping the patients help themselves, getting them back to a level of dependence. We focus on our care of the patients as a team. That keeps me motivated, knowing that we work with each other and we care about each other.”
“If someone was going into the medical field, what advice would you give them?” I ask. “I would tell them not to be overwhelmed. Find a mentor that you can look up to and never be afraid to ask questions. Know that you can do anything if you believe in yourself,” she replied.
Valderrama is an advocate on walking. She enjoys the great outdoors and nature. She likes to sew but most of all, loves spending time with her family. She has 3 sons, 3 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. I ask Valderrama how she inspires others? “I do the best job I can being kind, respectful and a great listener. Sharing my story with others gives hope to them.”
“What is your greatest blessing?” “I feel God is working in my life and through me. I believe in prayer and the presence of God.” “Any words of wisdom you would like to share?” I ask Valderrama. “Have the courage to step out and do things. Don’t put limitations on yourself. Don’t be afraid to live your dream…like flamingo dancing which is a precious memory of a dear friend and a true blessing for me.”

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Cindy Carmichael, chief operating officer of Mercy Hospital Ardmore.

Cindy Carmichael Appointed Chair of Healthcare Executive Magazine Editorial Board


Cindy Carmichael, chief operating officer of Mercy Hospital Ardmore, has been selected to chair the Healthcare Executive Magazine editorial board.
Healthcare Executive is the official, bimonthly magazine of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), a 45,000-member group of healthcare managers.
Carmichael is a fellow of ACHE.
“ACHE has been extremely important in my professional development, and Healthcare Executive Magazine is how I keep up with other members and health care management news throughout the country,” Carmichael said. “I have enjoyed my three years on the editorial board and look forward to continuing the magazine’s success.”
Carmichael’s appointment as chair will last one year.
Carmichael previously was vice president of strategic development for Mercy in Oklahoma. During her six-year tenure, Mercy added hospitals in Ada, El Reno, Tishomingo, Logan County, Watonga and Kingfisher, as well as managing Seiling Municipal Hospital and OSU Medical Center in Tulsa.
Carmichael began her career with Mercy eight years ago in Ardmore as vice president of ambulatory services, where she more than doubled the number of Mercy physicians and spearheaded the transition to electronic health records.
Prior to joining Mercy, Carmichael was CEO of Moore Medical Center and Seminole Medical Center.

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Q. I recently attended a Codependency 12 step support group but thought I was at the wrong meeting. There were addicts there and I am not an addict. My therapist thought it would be a good idea for me to go. Guess what I learned. I am an addict!!! I am nothing without a man!!

A. People can most definitely become addicted to relationships. And this addiction can be just as deadly as alcohol, food, drugs, etc. But because we are becoming more and more desensitized to crazy, unhealthy relationships we somehow accept it as the normal.
How many people really think about going to a Codependency (CoDA) 12 step support group to learn more about themselves so they can have healthier relationships? It is almost the norm for people to end one relationship and jump into another one.
How many people end one relationship and find someone almost identical to the one they left? I had a male client who came in with his wife for marital counseling. He later divorced her for the woman he was having an affair with. He then brought this “new” woman to his counseling session and she even looked like his wife. That relationship ended and he went back to his wife.
At what point do we get tired of the merry go round of repeat performances? Isn’t it tiring to have a new relationship with the same old problems?
Wouldn’t some education at this point be helpful? Why is learning about ourselves so scary? It is interesting what can be learned if we slow it down, don’t have a relationship for awhile and realize some of us are “people addicts.” If you identify yourself as someone who NEEDS someone and is willing to overlook some major red flags…..stop and go to CoDA……now!!!!
Men who need women, women who need men. If you need someone to fulfill your life you will not make healthy decisions. I see this all the time. That is why I encourage so many people to go to CoDA and get educated. Learn about yourself. Don’t leave a relationship and start another one before you have learned something from the first one. The issues in the next relationship will still be there.
A friend of mine who has been in recovery for a long time leads a CoDA meeting on a weekly basis. She has learned so much about herself and her relationships and passes that spiritual awakening on to others. One of the things I learned from her, “Our relationships will get sicker until we stop and do our work.”
So lets get ourselves healthier and recover from our relationship addictions before it is too late.

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“I’d go back to Alaska. The sheer beauty and the ability to go fishing and hunting and actually see some family that’s still up there.” Karan West, RN

“I think it would be great to visit all of my relatives in the U.S. and spend a little bit of time with each one of them for a few days. So the U.S. in 80 days.” Sherry Stephens Wood, RN

“I would go to Italy and just travel to different places. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do for no specific reason. It’s the sites and everything.” Shannon Nivens, RN

“I would probably go to South America and  I would learn the language, learn the culture and serve them in whatever way I could.” Heather Squires, PT

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Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Tim Griffin, Ph.D.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Tim Griffin, Ph.D., has received a five-year, $1.76 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how aging combined with obesity contributes to osteoarthritis.
“We hope that this research can help us find new ways to prevent some of the excessive breakdown and damage that occurs in osteoarthritis,” said Griffin. “While joint problems might go along with aging, if we ask the right questions, we may find new opportunities for earlier intervention to help lessen suffering.”
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a joint disorder that typically begins after the age of 40. Also known as degenerative joint disease, it’s marked by breakdown of cartilage and meniscus and abnormal growth of the underlying bone and joint lining.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, osteoarthritis affects more than 25 million Americans, most commonly in the knees, hips, hands and spine. The specific causes of the disease are unknown, but they are believed to be a result of both mechanical and molecular events in the affected joint.
These events, or stressors, can vary from outside forces like trauma or injury to genetic or hormonal factors, which can break down the cartilage over time. With the added stress and inflammation brought on by extra weight, strain on the joint can intensify and become more severe.
In the grant, Griffin looks at how aging combined with obesity affects the metabolism of cartilage at a molecular level and how it puts the cartilage at higher risk for osteoarthritis. In diseased cartilage collected from patients undergoing joint replacement surgery, Griffin observed that cartilage cells changed their basic metabolism.
Most cells rely on glucose, the sugars that serve as the body’s energy source, to fuel rebuilding of tissues. But in obese patients, Griffin found that the cells made a shift to using lipids, fats in the body, in response to stress. Glucose helps the body make energy faster and helps it repair tissues quicker than lipids do.
“We want to look at the mechanism that causes the shift from glucose to lipids,” said Griffin, who joined OMRF from Duke University in 2008.”We’re essentially working with mouse models fed a high-fat diet to study how aging and obesity affect the metabolism of cartilage.”
This work may eventually help to identify people who might be at risk for developing osteoarthritis, whether it occurs through aging or injury, Griffin said.
“A key question we hope to answer is, ‘What can we do to help prevent this excessive breakdown and damage in the joints?’ If we can identify the steps in that process, it has the potential to help us identify new osteoarthritis treatments based on those developed for other diseases related to altered lipid metabolism, like diabetes.”
Griffin’s grant, R01 AG049058-01, is funded through the National Institute of Aging, a part of the NIH.

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INTEGRIS Health has been named as a recipient of the 2015 MAP Award for High Performance in Revenue Cycle, sponsored by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA).
As a national award winner, INTEGRIS has excelled in meeting industry standard revenue cycle benchmarks, implementing the patient-centered recommendations and best practices embodied in HFMA’s Healthcare Dollars & Sense™ initiatives, and achieving outstanding patient satisfaction.
INTEGRIS Health was among seven health system winners selected from more than 170 facilities that began the application process for this year’s award. Award recipients are acknowledged as industry leaders and share proven strategies with their colleagues.
“In light of the significant changes taking place in the health care industry, achieving revenue cycle excellence has never been more important than it is today,” said Bruce Lawrence, president and chief executive officer of INTEGRIS Health. “I would like to recognize our team of dedicated professionals who made this award possible. They continually strive to perform at the highest standards and know that improving financial results can lead to higher patient satisfaction.”
The award will be formally presented on June 22 at HFMA’s 2015 National Institute in Orlando, Fla.

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95% of nurses own a smartphone, and 88% use smartphone apps at work – a higher percentage than doctors – and they’re working to improve patient care with them


The new “doctor on call” to many nurses just may be a smartphone app, according to data just released by InCrowd, provider of real-time market intelligence from validated experts. The results quantify the expanding role of the smartphone by nurses in enabling better patient interactions at the point of care.
95% of nurses responding via microsurvey last week owned a smartphone, and 88% of them used their smartphone apps in their daily nursing work. This is a higher figure than recent reports that 78% of medical residents owned a smartphone and 67% used it in clinical care1. Bedside access to drug interactions, clinical data dominated nurse smartphone use with 73% looking up drug information on that device. Some 72% used smartphone apps to look up various diseases and disorders.
Other time-saving uses of smartphones not related to apps – such as staying in touch with colleagues in their hospital (69%) – typified the multifaceted role that the smartphone is playing in day to day patient care, making a nurse’s work a little easier. Nurses reported using their smartphones for fast access to patient care information across a wide range of daily nursing tactics, from receiving patient photos of a rash to setting a timer for meds administration.
While respondents stressed that smartphones “enhance but don’t substitute” the need for a physician consult prior to administering care, 52% of nurses reported using their smart phone instead of asking a question of a nursing colleague, according to a subset of users probed in greater detail about their phone use. This was particularly the case if a medication, illness or symptom was unfamiliar.
“The hospital gets very busy and there isn’t always someone available to bounce ideas off of,” said one respondent. “It’s often easier to get the information needed using my smartphone – I don’t have to wait for a response from a coworker,” said another nurse.
In the survey 32% of RNs said they used their smartphone instead of asking a physician, explaining how doing so saved time such as “in patient homecare situations when I need quick answers without making a bunch of phone calls,” or “so I can make an educated suggestion to the doctor.”
Interestingly, nurse smartphone adoption is taking place regardless of whether employers are covering the cost. Some 87% of nurses in the follow up survey responded that their employer does not cover any of the costs related to their smartphone. 9% of RNs were reimbursed for the cost of the monthly bill, 1% received coverage for the cost of the smartphone itself, but only 3% had the cost of both a smartphone and their monthly bill covered by their employer. Less than 1% reported their hospital prohibited nurses from using smartphones during their shift.
InCrowd’s insights came from some 241 nurses in its “Crowd” of over 1.8 million verified clinicians in the US reached over a 2-hour window on May 30th.
“As a former nurse I know the daily distractions that can take a nurse away from patients – and how freeing technology can be if we let it,” said Janet Kosloff, CEO and co-founder of InCrowd. “InCrowd uses mobile technology to query respondents, potentially inflating these percentages since one could argue that mobile phone users are more apt to answer our surveys. However, with such significantly higher percentages of use than other studies, and numerous write-in responses detailing nurses’ enthusiasm for specific apps and why, our results show that nurses are actively using smartphones to free themselves for what is ultimately better patient care.”
About InCrowd
InCrowd provides real-time market intelligence from validated experts, connecting life sciences companies directly with prescribers, patients, and other screened and validated healthcare professionals around the globe. Our easy-to-use proprietary web-based application allows clients to ask questions of specific respondent groups – “Crowds” – in the form of 2-5 minute online microsurveys. Responses are available in real time through a password-protected account, with the needed answers delivered within hours or days, not weeks and months.
Today, InCrowd has 18 of the top 20 pharmaceutical firms as customers and has just finished its most successful quarter in company history with a record number of answers delivered to clients. Through its powerful mobile microsurvey methodology and analytics engine, InCrowd enables clients to reach 1.8M healthcare professionals on-demand throughout the United States and around the globe in 20 languages. For more information, visit

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OU Physicians Reproductive Endocrinology Clinic has moved to a new location on the Oklahoma Health Center campus at 840 Research Parkway, Suite 200. This location, which more than doubles the space and exam rooms of the previous space, is a quarter mile west of the clinic’s former location on Lincoln Blvd.
OU Physicians Reproductive Medicine specialists diagnose and treat infertility and reproductive endocrine problems. They offer a broad scope of treatment, including the Assisted Reproductive Technologies.
The new facility increased from 5,800 square feet to 12,100 square feet the amount of space to serve patients, with separate entrances and lobbies designed to support the emotional needs of different types of appointments. It features an on-site, full service laboratory for andrology (semen analysis), endocrinology (hormonal evaluation) and embryology (for in-vitro fertilization) that is nearly double the previous facility. The clinical area was increased from six patient rooms at the previous location to 13 rooms. There are now two procedure rooms, expanded procedure recovery space and upgraded patient monitoring equipment for enhanced patient safety. There are large digital displays in each exam and procedure room so the patient can view ultrasound images throughout the process.
Three fellowship-trained reproductive endocrinologists and a physician assistant are seeing patients at the OU Physicians Reproductive Endocrinology Clinic. They include: Karl Hansen, M.D., Ph.D.; LaTasha Craig, M.D.; Alexander Quaas, M.D., Ph.D.; and Theresa Miller, P.A.-C.
For an appointment with any of the OU Physicians reproductive endocrinologists, call (405) 271-1616.
With more than 600 doctors, OU Physicians is the state’s largest physician group. The practice encompasses almost every adult and child specialty. Many OU Physicians have expertise in the management of complex conditions that is unavailable anywhere else in the state, region or sometimes even the nation. Some have pioneered surgical procedures or innovations in patient care that are world firsts.
OU Physicians see patients in their offices at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City and at clinics in Edmond, Midwest City and other cities around Oklahoma. When hospitalization is necessary, they often admit patients to OU Medical Center. Many also care for their patients in other hospitals around the metro area. OU Physicians serve as faculty at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and train the region’s future physicians.

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Tony Sword RN, feels honored to be named as Nurse of the Year at Deaconess hospital.

by Vickie Jenkins

Congratulations to Tony Sword, ‘one sharp RN’ that has been named Nurse of the Year at Deaconess Hospital. Sword was chosen nurse of the year out of eight exemplars showing significant contributions to the profession of nursing. The winner was announced on May 13, 2015 in the Deaconess Legacy Conference room. “It is a great honor to be chosen as Nurse of the Year,” Sword says. “I was surprised when they called my name, especially since I was up against the other nurses. I consider each one of them an excellent nurse and each nurse could have been given the honor,” he said. “They are all so deserving of it,” he added.
Sword has been a nurse for a total of 9 years. Graduating from Southern Nazarene College, he had always been interested in medicine and the medical field since high school. He continued his education to become a nurse. His leadership clinicals were done at Deaconess. He was at OU for his Medical-Surgical Nursing and came back to Deaconess where he has been the lead ER nurse for the past 2 years. A few months ago, he became Manager of the ER. “Did you have a mentor in nursing school?” I ask. “Several of my friends were my mentors at the time and I looked up to them in several ways,” he replied.
Sword enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 daughters, 5 and 7 years old. Both of his daughters are into soccer. When possible, camping is one of their favorite past times. He enjoys deer hunting in the winter months. He also likes to barbeque but not the everyday barbequing that most people know of. Sword and his dad are a team and travel to different places in Oklahoma and Arkansas, doing competitive barbequing. The name of their scrumptious temptations is Super Swine with the logo of a pig wearing a cape. From my understanding, Sword can make some pretty tasty ribs. Just ask any of his co-workers.
I asked Sword to describe himself in 3 words. “Caring, appreciative and understanding,” he replied. “I am a caring person and like to help people. I appreciate my friends and co-workers as they encourage me along the way and I am a very understanding person.”
Sword feels like his strongest asset is his ability to be a team leader. “It is all about teamwork. My co-workers make up my team and I owe so much to them. We work together and we are strong,” he replies. Sword feels like his co-workers are very important. His friends are the ones that encourage him and have a great impact on him. “In fact, some of my co-workers are the ones that encouraged me to apply for ER Manager and I did and look what happened? I am encouraged by my encouragers,” he said with a smile.
“What qualities make a good nurse?” I ask Sword. “A nurse needs to have empathy, understanding and compassion. A nurse needs to be friendly and that is one thing we try to make sure that all of our nurses are; friendly to their patients.”
A typical day for Sword is him dealing with a variety of different tasks in the ER. Sometimes, the ER doesn’t run like it’s expected. “There is the issue of juggling the required tasks and then adding the everyday last-minute emergencies that arise. On a personal note, I try to maintain everything and try to be motivated, going above and beyond with my work.”
“What advice would you give to someone going into the medical field?” I ask Sword. “First of all, I would tell them to be bold and not be afraid to ask questions. Know that you will become an advocate for your patients.” The most rewarding part of Sword’s job is hearing the patients that he has taken care of coming back to Deaconess, just for a visit and a thank-you. “I also get praises from the staff and my co-workers. It is nice to hear such encouraging words. That is what I consider the most rewarding part of my job.” Sword stated.
‘If you gave someone words to live by, what would those words be?” I ask Sword. “Whatever you do in life, make friends along the way,” he said with a bit of a smile and a lot of confidence. Congratulations to ‘one sharp nurse,’ Tony Sword!