by James Coburn
A strong team keeps Haley Hunter, RN, steadfast as nurse manager at The Children’s Hospital ER on the campus of OU Medical Center, she said.
“I like not knowing what each day is going to be like,” she said. The thing that keeps me here the most is the people I work with,” Hunter said.
More than 43,000 patients visit The Children’s Hospital ER each year. The Children’s Hospital is the only stand-alone 24/7 children’s hospital in the state. Patients can be directly admitted or come through the ER to be admitted by physicians. Children are taken to one of separate areas including acute care, urgent care or an asthma pod depending upon their acuity, Hunter said.
Nearly 15 percent of the hospital’s volume is transported there through emergency services. Other patients are referred to Children’s Hospital through an outlying facility.
“We see all patients no matter what the acuity, everything from your constant colds, minor lacerations to full arrests, near drowning, child abuse and traumas,” said Hunter, who has been with Children’s Hospital since 2009.
She worked as bedside staff nurse, became a supervisor on the night shift and has been the manager since 2011. The team blends well with talent, dedication and skill.
“I think we are a compassionate group. We all have a little bit of different experience,” Hunter said. “We have a lot of nurses that come to us through different areas of nursing.”
Some of the nurses have experience with adult patients or have worked in a pediatric unit of other hospitals.
“We have a lot of specialties coming to us and that’s helpful,” Hunter said. “We are a very compassionate group. We have nurses that are out there such as John Raschtschenia, who have been with us for 30 years. We have quite a few nurses on day shift that have been with us 20 to 25 years. Once you’re here we kind of want you to stay forever.”
The environment is too tough for a new nurse to work there, Hunter said.
Hunter is the only person in her family working in health care. She is a graduate of St. Petersburg College in Florida.
Children’s Hospital nurses must be engaged in their work with passion and a willingness to be flexible, Hunter added. The ER is an ever changing environment so flexibility is essential for adapting easily to change.
Kaitlan Loeffler, RN, was working with adult patients who suffered strokes before she joined the ER team at Children’s Hospital nearly three years ago. She has also worked in the home health arena of care.
“I think with children they are very resilient. That’s one of the reasons I love working with them,” Loeffler said. “They can go from looking so sick and terrible to recovering completely.”
Loeffler said she has no regrets because she gives 100 percent of her ability to each child.
“Children are funny. They can be really hurt and still be making little jokes and wanting to play,” Loeffler continued. “We’ll be starting an I.V. and the child will be blowing bubbles and we’ll all be singing Disney songs with the kid. You don’t see that kind of stuff in grown-ups.”
She is also impressed by the parents for being advocates and becoming experts on their children’s illnesses.
“You help the whole family get through it,” said Loeffler, a graduate of Rose State College in Midwest City.
Loeffler resisted the idea of becoming a nurse at first. Both of her parents were nurses and she wanted to take a different course. After having her son, she was going to school for social work. That is when a nursing career appealed to her, she said. She wanted to be part of a team.
“The ER is a great place if you want to be part of a team.” Loeffler said. “We work so closely with the doctors, respiratory therapy and each other. You can’t do anything by yourself here. We do a lot of procedures that take two or three nurses. Knowing how to work together and advocate and communicate with your team is vital in the ER.”
Nursing is only part of Loeffler’s life. She also loves being with her husband and children, going on family outings. She also joins with other nurses going for refreshments after work to decompress.
“We all understand each other and what we’re going through,” Loeffler said.
Hunter also likes spending time with her husband, Justin, and their two kids.
“I am an animal lover, so I spend a lot of time with my pets,” Hunter said.