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Jane Lowrey, RN (left) and Christine Fisher, RN, MSN are just two of the hundreds of nurses who have presented their work at the ONA Convention.

by Bobby Anderson, RN, Staff Writer

The Oklahoma Nurses Association Annual Convention has always been a time for nurses to gather and share information.
One of the best ways that happens is through nurses sharing what they’ve learned in presentations and posters.
This is the final week the ONA will accept submissions for posters. July 14 is the last day for submission.
The strength of the ONA Convention has always been a superb array of educational activities, which directly relate to nursing.
By reaching across specialties and practice settings, convention presentations strive to enhance the skills for nurses in all phases of their nursing career.
Four rounds of breakout sessions will again be offered this year.
Breakout sessions will be held on Thursday, October 25th. Each of the four breakout sessions will have two concurrent 60-minute sessions.
The window to submit presentations has now closed but the ONA is still accepting poster submissions.
The Convention Committee will review posters based on categories. Whether you are a first time poster presenter or a seasoned presenter, the ONA encourages you to submit your work for this year’s Convention.
Both primary and secondary research is acceptable. The poster presentation is in a written format and presenters should plan for a 30-minute staffed session in order to answer questions at the convention.
Posters typically fall under Academic, Clinical Practice & Research or Theory, Concept, Teaching Papers & Research.
Suggested Topics include: Clinical Simulations, Conflict Resolution/Disruptive Behavior, Health Disparities in Oklahoma, End of Life Care, Ethics, Health & Wellness, Informatics, Leadership (Clinical & Academic), Mental Health, Mentoring, Nursing Research, Nursing Specialty Topics, Pain Management, Palliative Care, Population Health Management, Political Advocacy in Nursing, Practice Innovation – Clinical topics, Self-care/Stress Management, Share Research Findings, Social Determinates of Health, Status and Trends in Organ Transplant and Using evidence based practice.
If your poster is accepted you will be notified in July.
If possible, the ONA asks that you hang your poster on Wednesday, Oct. 24th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Tulsa.
There will be a networking reception on Wednesday at 4 p.m/ for attendees and poster presenters.
You will need to be available on Thursday, October 25, 2018 during the poster presentation break.
You are required to staff your poster only during a portion of the convention.
Suggested maximum size of posters (no tri-folds please) is 36” by 48”
You may receive a 25% discount on one Convention registration.
For more information you can go online to or call the ONA at 405-840-3476

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God gives Oncology Nurse Mena Evans, RN, BSN, OCN strength to help others during illness and loss.


Story and Photo Provided

Watching our loved ones in a medical crisis is hard enough. But when you are an oncology nurse and your loved one passes away from the disease, it can be very difficult to return to work. Mena Evans, RN, BSN, OCN, who recently celebrated her 25th year at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Tulsa, can relate.
Mena’s father was diagnosed with gastric cancer in 2005. After undergoing a partial gastrectomy and chemotherapy, he unfortunately passed away. “My father’s passing was the most difficult time I have ever experienced,” she said.
Mena added, “I must have literally cried a river of tears for several weeks. Losing my dad was the only time I have ever felt depressed. Returning to work was not easy, but through prayer, the wonderful support of co-workers, my loving family, and, most of all, the strength bestowed upon me from the grace of God, I was able to return.”
Believing that there is always something good that comes out of something bad, Mena added, “I believe God gave me the courage and strength, so I could help others during illness and/or the loss of a loved one. It has made me more compassionate and respectful of one’s needs. Everyone deserves dignity.”
Working in the medical field was always something Mena wanted to do. She started taking classes at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah for optometry school. “Before my third year in college, I decided to work as a nurse assistant at a Tulsa hospital,” said Mena. “The work was physically and mentally exhausting, but I enjoyed the interactions I had with patients and the special care they needed while hospitalized. The experience taught me that life can change directions at any given time. I knew then it was my calling to care for the sick.”
Mena was then accepted into the nursing program at the University of Oklahoma, where she graduated with a bachelor’s of science in nursing in May 1987. She married her husband, Doug, in 1988, and they moved to Joplin, Mo, where she worked in oncology for three and a half years.
With a desire to move back to Oklahoma, Mena and her husband returned to Tulsa in 1992, and she was hired at CTCA. “After working for several years, my passion for oncology grew. I wanted to become more knowledgeable in the field,” she said. “I read, studied and then took the exam to become certified in oncology. I have maintained my oncology certification for more than 22 years. I am also certified in chemotherapy and biotherapy.”
Mena currently serves as a care manager in the CTCA gastroenterology clinic. Over the years, she has held several positions, including working with one of the medical oncologists seeing patients in the clinic and serving as an infusion nurse on weekend nights when her three sons were younger. She has also worked in the inpatient and ICU units, when needed, and frequently filled in as the house supervisor.
When asked about what it’s like working with cancer patients, Mena said, “I have to admit, I have shed a few tears at CTCA because I care about my patients and their families. We get to know them so well that they become like family. You don’t want to see them hurting in any way.”
Mena continued, “We also experience tears of joy. The best news, of course, is when your patient hears the words ‘no evidence of disease’ or ‘in remission’. Yet, each patient has a goal and their reason to fight the battle…joy can be making it to your 50th wedding anniversary or your daughter’s wedding so you can walk her down the aisle.”
For those who are considering a nursing career, Mena said, “It’s not just about giving the medications to your patients on time or completing the tasks on your shift. It’s about holding their hands when they are alone or giving hugs when they need it. It’s rewarding when patients or caregivers say they love and appreciate you, or when they send you a thank you card and tell you how much they appreciate the wonderful care you have given them.”
Mena said she has kept all the cards she has received over the years from her patients and their families. “It helps remind me that I am making a difference in what I do as a nurse.”

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In 2012, when he was just 5 years old, Caleb Hines, along with his mother Marcie, decided it was time for young Caleb to learn the importance of helping others and giving back to his community. Searching for ways to get involved, Marcie quickly discovered there were very limited opportunities for children his age to volunteer and become engaged. So, the seed was planted to create an avenue where children could help other children, with a focus to provide basic necessities.
In her search for opportunities, one fateful visit led Marcie to the epiphany moment that would lead to the creation of Caleb’s Cause Foundation. While visiting a friend’s non-profit, All Things Baby, a local organization offering assistance to expectant mothers and children in need, the phone rang three times, all with the same request for diapers. With each call, the reply was regretfully the same, “I’m sorry, no we don’t have any”. As Marcie tells it, “It was at that moment I asked her about the requests and she explained the need for diapers, the lack of funding for diapers and the abuse that comes from lack of diapers. From there we did our homework and decided diapers was the #1 focus for us.” And Caleb’s Cause Foundation was born.
Did You Know…
• There are no government programs that provide diapers or cover the cost.
• An infant needs an average of 12 diapers a day, while a toddler needs 8.
• Some low-income families are forced to keep their children in one diaper a day!
• Statistics reveal not having enough diapers for daily changes causes:
– Increased health problems
– Child abuse is more likely to occur due to non-stop crying from continually wearing soiled diapers
– Parent’s often miss work and keep their children out of daycare due to the lack of diapers
• Some children with disabilities never outgrow the need for diapers, placing additional financial and emotional strain on struggling parents.
So Caleb and Marcie rolled up their sleeves and got busy. Very busy! Drawing on his love for all things Superheroes, Caleb decided to call on his Superhero friends to pitch in. And they did just that, hosting diaper drives during their own parties, requesting guests bring diapers to donate to Caleb’s Cause Foundation, instead of gifts for themselves. One remarkable friend, 11-year old Billy Vega has hosted an annual Christmas party for the last three years requesting diapers in lieu of presents. Friends, family and schoolmates all volunteering to support Caleb and the children of Oklahoma.
Caleb’s Cause Foundation also engages the community-at-large by hosting its annual fundraising event, 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run each August. Now in it’s seventh year, the race is expected to draw over 300 Superheroes who each donate diapers of any size or brand, providing enough diapers to serve 10,000 Oklahoma children! The run is an all-ages event offering music, entertainment, a photobooth and even a Superhero Closet whereas partcipants can throw on their own Superhero cape and Run for a Cause.
Diapers are currently distributed to nine community partners throughout the State of Oklahoma. Each distribution location is carefully selected by Caleb and Marcie through an application process, site visit and annual assessment of needs. With the growing awareness of the need for diapers, Caleb’s Cause Foundation is expected to add five additional statewide distribution locations in 2018, with the goal of one day providing diapers to every Oklahoma child in need.
When asked what motivates Marcie to keep pushing forward, Marcie states “Getting to serve next to my son is priceless. Getting to go to our locations and seeing families there picking up our diapers is the most humbling experience. Hearing over and over again that mothers are bringing their children in soiled diapers to our locations and able to change their babies immediately, providing instant relief to both mom and baby is a heavy feeling that brings you to the very core of why we do this.”
And to young Caleb, the enormity of what they have embarked upon is not lost on him. Caleb says, “The government won’t do it and the schools can’t do it, so it has to be us.” Caleb goes on to say, “I believe we CAN make a difference because we already ARE making a difference.” To see and hear Caleb in his own words, visit him on FACEBOOK AT .
But it’s not enough. Caleb’s Cause Foundation won’t stop until every child in Oklahoma, and beyond, have the basic necessities they need. Next on Caleb and Marcie’s To-Do list, they’re setting their sites on a partnership with a diaper manufacturer to become a distributor, so as to serve even more children and families in desperate need. They also plan to lobby federal legislatures to change the food stamp laws which prohibit the purchase of diapers, directly affecting the health, safety and well being for millions of children around the country.
For more information about Caleb, Marcie, the remarkable work of Caleb’s Cause Foundation and the children they serve, please visit

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What is the one thing you cannot live without and why? AllianceHealth Deaconess

My grandchildren. When I have a rough day at work, their little smiles and hugs make everything okay.

Eddie Deemer, RN

Thinking from the medical side, oxygen!

Rachel Shadrack Rajan, RN

Chocolate! It is the neatest thing since sliced bread!

Monica Bowie, House Supervisor

Coffee for my sanity!

Torie Ruibio

Q. I have a friend, Brittany who is in her mid-thirties, divorced twice and very confused about dating. When a man is nice to her she is ready to marry him. How can I get her to slow it down?

A. I suspect there are significant reasons why your friend does not know how to connect with a “nice, kind” man.
(Here is more of Brittany’s story as told by Shannon)
Brittany was raised by her step father who was an alcoholic, mean tempered and controlling. She did not know until early in her 20’s that he was not her biological dad. Her mother told her the story of her conception, perhaps telling too much but Brittany found out that her dad was married and her mother had a one night stand with him.
Brittany sought him out and he was receptive to meeting her. She had hoped he would want to spend time with her and get to know her. But after that first and only meeting they had a few brief phone conversations, then nothing.
Brittany’s mother was very nurturing but also very passive to the men she chose. They did not want Brittany to receive so much attention from her mother because it took away from the time she gave them. (Her mother was very codependent and so was Brittany; they were both starved for love and attention).
Brittany chose men who were like her father. (She was attracted to what was familiar and with no therapy, continued to chose those type of men; her relationships got sicker). The only difference from her mother, Brittany was always the most educated and made the most money. (Her mother only had a high school education, Brittany had a college degree). That gave her control, even if only the illusion of control.
When Brittany actually found a man who presented with caring, respectful behavior she did not know how to receive it. Even the little things she found amazing, for example: Her latest boyfriend made her dinner, was nice to her kids, seemed interested in what she was saying. According to Shannon, Brittany wanted him to move in AFTER ONE MONTH!!!!
Brittany is very wounded from untreated childhood issues that are driving her adult behavior. Until these wounds are understood she will continue to struggle with having a healthy relationship. She looks at her friends who seem to be doing well and believes their husbands must be PERFECT because they treat them so well.
It is very clear from Brittany’s story that childhood trauma can lead to major adult struggles with even knowing what a healthy relationship looks like. So left untreated, there is little hope for the caring, loving, respectful relationship that people are seeking.

Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City

If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at

Research assistant Landon McGee talks to a young boy about the sensors utilized to capture physical reactions to a variety of images the child will see on a computer screen inside the communications lab of Katerina Ntrourou, Ph.D., CCC-SLP. Ntrourou and her team hope their work will lead to better ways to assess and treat stuttering.

OU Allied Health researcher aims to improve diagnosis and treatment

Could a child’s response to happy, sad, mad or expressionless faces provide important answers about why stuttering happens and how to better treat it? One researcher at the University of Oklahoma College of Allied Health believes it may.
Katerina Ntourou, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, and her team utilize special sensors and computers in their new communications lab at the OU College of Allied Health to evaluate the genesis, manifestation and treatment of stuttering. Most importantly, though, they hope to shatter the myths that surround this common communications disorder.
“People think you stutter because you’re nervous. No. Or people who stutter have lower intelligence…absolutely not,” said Ntourou.
Stuttering impacts one in every 20 young people. The disorder is four times more common in boys than girls. While some outgrow it, others do not. In fact, one in every 100 people who stutter will continue to stutter long-term without treatment. Ntrourou aims to gain new insights that will lead to new, more effective treatments while also enhancing understanding of the disorder.
“Now, I’ve got to put two on your back,” said Landon McGee, a research assistant in the lab tells a young boy as sensors are applied to his chest and arms. In their lab, Ntourou and her team record a child’s silent physical responses to faces showing varied emotions.
“So if you have two pictures on the screen, one happy face and scary face or mad or sad, how quickly will the child look at that face and how long will their attention be drawn to that picture. Children who stutter even at a very young age seem to be more reactive and regulate less,” Ntrourou explained. Dr Ntoruou hopes her research will help develop more effective assessments for stuttering and better treatments so that children who stutter will learn to not only speak more fluently, but to grow up more confidently. “I would like parents and kids to have a safe place where they can talk about their struggles and their triumphs,” she said.
Ntrourou added that she is excited to work at the college, a place where care, research and treatment go hand in hand. The ultimate goal is to give families a way to navigate their own treatment while also building a solid foundation of research to help future families.

OMRF researcher Gary Gorbsky, Ph.D.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation a $2.1 million grant to study multiple facets of the process of cell division.
OMRF scientist Gary Gorbsky, Ph.D., will use the funds to pursue general research projects related to cell division, including its relevance to cancer, birth defects and uncovering new knowledge about the basics of how cells divide.
The five-year award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences is part of the institute’s Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award, or MIRA, program. MIRA grants provide a funding stream that allows investigators to use their award to support a wide range of needs instead of limiting their spending to one specific project.
“This grant will allow us to keep an open mind as we go about our research. When we find something interesting, it affords us the chance to chase down those new leads without restrictions,” said Gorbsky, who heads the Cell Cycle and Cancer Biology Research Program and holds the W.H. and Betty Phelps Chair in Developmental Biology at OMRF. “This is how innovations and discoveries in research often happen, and we are thrilled to receive this opportunity.”
The grant will help cover salaries for Gorbsky and his laboratory staff, as well as the purchase of lab supplies and equipment. The NIH states that the increased freedom afforded by MIRA funds can enhance productivity and the likelihood of important, but perhaps unplanned, breakthroughs.
Gorbsky’s goal is to understand how cell division is regulated and how this regulation can become defective in cancer cells and lead to birth defects. Better understanding of these processes might allow researchers to develop novel treatment approaches for these conditions.
“Thanks to this MIRA grant, we will be judged on our research performance and potential,” said Gorbsky. “It’s important to know the basics of how cells divide, and this affords us real freedom to think outside the box and take new approaches to answering these basic questions.”
The grant, number 1R35 GM126980. Is from the NIGMS, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Ana Garcia, APRN- CNP is serving the community she grew up with. Photo provided by Brandon Snider.

by Bobby Anderson, RN, Staff Writer

Growing up in Oklahoma City, Ana Garcia, APRN-CNP, knew what it was like to be part of an underserved population.
The youngest of six children born to Mexican immigrants, her family moved to the United States seeking new opportunities.
Those opportunities sometimes seemed few, but when they arose, her family always took advantage of them.
With that kind of raising, it’s no wonder Garcia ended up with a terminal degree in the practice of nursing.
“It’s been great, really good,” Garcia said. “It’s been really personally life changing. We often think we are the ones who are treating patients but often times we get more out of them. I’m really happy to serve the community.”
“I really think this is my calling.”
Garcia graduated in 2015. She’s in her third year with Integris, now serving at the Southwest Family Clinic.
Garcia’s story is a true immigrant tale.
She was determined to break through the barriers that stood between her and a college education. Working hard just to provide for their family, higher education was a luxury they could not afford.
But while attending Bethany High School, Garcia excelled in school and began to dream of her future.
“I remember asking my high school counselor how I could go to college,” she said. “From that point on, I was determined to make straight A’s. I knew I didn’t have room to fail.”
Little did she know, her great opportunity would arise from another woman who, decades earlier, had overcome challenges of her own.
Born in 1924, Ruth Mershon wasn’t expected to live past the age of two. Her physical impairments made it difficult to walk or even wear shoes. Through her own tenacity and the support of her family, she persevered and graduated college in 1945.
At a time when few women practiced medicine, Mershon decided to become a physician – a career typically restricted to men. But World War II provided new opportunities for women, and Mershon became one of 11 women admitted to the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine that year. She went on to practice anesthesiology for 45 years.
“Ruth’s determination helped her overcome many obstacles in life,” said niece Ginny Lawrence. “She believed strongly that hard work reaps rewards, and she wanted to help capable, hard-working students achieve their goals.”
Dr. Mershon died in 2000, and while she and Ana Garcia never met, she gave Ana and many other students an incredible opportunity. Dr. Mershon established the Ruth Mershon Scholarship at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.
Since 2000, the scholarship has helped students follow their dreams of going to college.
“This scholarship was life changing,” Garcia said. “It really validated all of my years of hard work.”
In a unique twist of fate, Garcia also entered the medical field. Today, she is a nurse practitioner serving families in southwest Oklahoma City, where 80 percent of her patients primarily speak Spanish.
“I know I’m here for a reason,” Garcia said. “God placed me in this profession to make a difference. As a child, I dreamed of working in medicine, and I’m honored to provide quality care for residents in the city I’ve always called home.”
Garcia’s niche has been the Spanish-speaking community. It’s one she discovered that had dramatic needs not being addressed.
“The care is very similar but the only difference is they haven’t had adequate access in Oklahoma City and surrounding areas,” she said. “We usually have to backtrack quite a bit. We usually see patients who have not received care in 10 to 30 years and so often you’re doing a lot of catchup in the beginning.”
Often that comes with a host of issues that patients were either unaware they had or hadn’t had a provider adequately address their needs.
“Everything from Type 2 diabetes to high blood pressure to cancer – I’ve seen it all,” Garcia said. “I continue to be perplexed how a lot of these things have been unnoticed or untreated for so many years.”
“Renal failure, heart failure, COPD that’s never diagnosed … it’s always interesting to see what walks in the door.”
The language barrier can be a huge part of that. Garcia’s ability to speak Spanish instantly breaks down that wall.
Her caring nature seems to take care of the rest.
“As a kid we were seven and 10 and translating for family members,” Garcia remembered. “I’ve been really grateful I’ve had this opportunity to truly understand what they’re going through, know what they’re thinking about and what their fears are.”
And that’s an opportunity she’ll take advantage of every time.

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Di Smalley, senior vice president of workforce solutions for Mercy.

Health care veteran to take on newly-created role targeting workforce challenges; new regional president named for Oklahoma


Di Smalley, who has served Mercy in Oklahoma as regional president since 2007, will move into a new system-wide position to take the lead in workforce management and developing innovative work strategies for Mercy co-workers.
“There’s a growing shortage of health care workers across our nation and in order to care for patients, we have to find ways to ensure we have trained health care workers to meet the increasing demand,” said Mike McCurry, Mercy’s chief operating officer. “As a long-time health care executive and former nurse, Di brings the experience we need to solve for this. She has spearheaded labor-related initiatives for decades, and she founded and led an organization focused on developing innovative work strategies for health care.
As senior vice president of workforce solutions, beginning July 1, Smalley will advance workforce strategies across all disciplines, with a particular focus on high-demand areas such as nursing. She will align all stakeholders, both internally and externally, including leadership and external staffing agencies to enhance workforce efficiency as well as improve the co-worker experience.
Prior to joining Mercy, Smalley was president of Avantas, LLC, where she consulted with prominent health care organizations and led the company in building a national reputation for workforce best practices.
As a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), as well as a former regent, governor and chair, Smalley served on the ACHE Higher Learning Task Force, further enriching her proficiency in workforce development. She was recently named a recipient of the organization’s 2018 Gold Medal Award, ACHE’s highest honor for health care executives. With more than 40,000 health care leaders from 66 countries, the ACHE is highly influential across health care.
Smalley earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, Nebraska, and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She is also a graduate of the Nebraska Methodist School of Nursing in Omaha. In her new role, Smalley will work remotely from Oklahoma City as well as from Mercy’s corporate offices in St. Louis.


Donn Sorensen, Mercy’s executive vice president of operations will additionally serve in Oklahoma as regional president.

Donn Sorensen, Mercy’s executive vice president of operations across Mercy, will additionally serve in Oklahoma as regional president, overseeing Mercy’s services, clinics and hospitals throughout the state.
Sorensen, who has more than 30 years of experience in health care, joined Mercy in 2000 and has served in multiple leadership roles. He led clinic operations in Springfield, Missouri, and under his leadership there, it was recognized three times as the nation’s top integrated health care delivery network.
In 2011, Sorensen was tapped to bring his expertise to St. Louis where he led Mercy’s eastern Missouri region to significant growth, including expanded access to care with more physicians and locations, and new health care partnerships to better serve the community.
In addition to his contributions to Mercy, Sorensen is a longtime member of the AMGA, an organization that represents some of the country’s largest health care delivery systems, and served as a board member and chair of the AMGA’s board of directors.
Sorensen has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, as well as a master’s in health administration from St. Mary’s College in Rochester, Minnesota, and a master’s in business administration from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.

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INTEGRIS announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase all associated assets of Deaconess Hospital located near N.W. 50th and Portland in Oklahoma City from an affiliate of Community Health Systems, Inc. (NYSE: CYH) headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee.
Deaconess operates under the AllianceHealth brand name in Oklahoma and the purchase does not include other AllianceHealth facilities in the state. INTEGRIS will continue operations in the Deaconess facility offering quality health care to area residents.
“This purchase will provide much needed additional capacity for INTEGRIS,” said Chris Hammes, Interim President & CEO, who added, “We see tremendous community benefit and anticipate a seamless transition.”
“Deaconess has offered quality health care services to local residents for many years,” said Damon Brown, Interim CEO, AllianceHealth Deaconess. Brown added, “We believe the combination with INTEGRIS sustains and enhances Deaconess’ commitment for delivery of quality health care and services to the community.”
Due diligence efforts continue, and the transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2018, subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions.
Kaufman, Hall & Associates, LLC is acting as the exclusive financial advisor to INTEGRIS Health on this transaction.