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Micah Thompson, RN supervisor and supervisor of the Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at The Children’s Hospital works with her colleague Grant Thompson to bring the best possible outcomes to the lives of children.

by James Coburn, Staff Writer

The first thing Grant Thompson considers when a patient arrives at the Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at The Children’s Hospital, OU Medical Center, is that the patient is safe and stable.
Thompson is a day shift nursing supervisor. He has worked there for 25 years. The unit is the recovery room for heart patients, he said, and they go directly from the operating room there.
“We connect them to the monitors, to the ventilator, to the IV medications that they might need,” Thompson said. “We make sure their bleeding is controlled.”
Pain is kept under control, and the perimeters are different depending on the type of defect repair. The medications used are different.
“We try to reunite the baby or the child with the family as soon as we are in a good place — about 30 minutes,” Thompson said.
It is also the only unit of its kind in Oklahoma that’s staffed by board certified intensive care physicians with specialized training and experience in the care and treatment of patients with congenital cardiac anomalies and disease, said Scott Coppenbarger, hospital spokesman.
“We also have a large number of RN’s with sub specialty certification and training in pediatric cardiac care,” he said.
Thompson’s career path began as a paramedic years ago. His big fear was always coming upon an accident involving a child. He went to nursing school at Oklahoma City Community College, Thompson found he wanted to work in an intensive care unit.
“I thought pediatric critical care hearts. I had never heard of such a thing. It scared me to death and I thought, ‘Face your fear.’ So I came here to face my fear,” Thompson said. “I fell in love with it.”
Composure involves great peripheral vision with a focus on detail.
“You have to be able to stay calm under pressure because you’re unable to help anybody if you’re frazzled yourself,” Thompson said.
Very complex and critical patients are manageable as long as the nurse sticks with the designated process and their training, he said.
So many of the children born with heart defects did not survive beyond late childhood or at all decades ago. But today they are able to thrive through modern medical surgery.
“To be part of that is really something special,” he continued. “In the years that I’ve been here I’ve run into the children that we’ve had at Target. And their families recognize me. It’s very heartfelt to know that you’re keeping families together. That child is going to have a healthy life.”
Family centered care involves the moms, dads and grandparents to help advocate for the child, Thompson said.
A collaboration of physicians and medical staff work well together to benefit the child in a community approach.
It’s a whole team that take care of the babies there. This involves pharmacy, child life specialists devoted to developmental needs, neurology, oncology respiratory and other types of therapists, wound care specialist, the heart wound bypass coordinator and even the housekeeping staff.
“It’s a whole village and they round multiple times a day and invite the parents to be included in that round,” said Jaye Robertson, RN, director of Pediatric Intensive Care Services.
The nurses without asking bond together by helping each other, the patients and families. Micah Thompson, who is not related to Grant, works as an RN supervisor in the unit.
“We’ve definitely evolved over the years,” Micah said. “We provide care here in the PICU and in this hospital that no where else provides. The sickest of the sick kids come to Children’s.”
The unit offers all kinds of specialities that are unique in the state. Micah said it is fun and interesting to relate to the children and be with their families.
“It comes as a package deal. The families are our patients as well,” she said.
Communication with the family members is ongoing. Most of them stay over night with their child at the bedside. The bedside nurse converses with them sometimes on a minute to minute basis depending on how the patient is doing.
“And then us, the supervisors and leaders, we’re rounding on the patients and their families. We round on the nurses to see how we can help them,” Micah explained.
She finds the nursing staff to be compassionate and steadfast. They stay the course because they have an inner strength to take care of the kids and their families. Nurses are quick on their feet, well organized and have a passionate desire to serve their patients.
“Kids are the strongest set of patients, I think, that exist,” Micah said. “They are very resilient. They overcome a lot of things in their lives. And most of them get well.”

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D. Gregory Main

St. Gregory’s University President Emeritus D. Gregory Main passed away at home on Sunday, June 4, surrounded by his family.
“Greg was a tremendous leader and advocate for St. Gregory’s University; he genuinely gave heart and soul to the mission of our University during his tenure,” said President Michael A. Scaperlanda. “I remain forever grateful for his mentorship and he will be deeply missed by everyone in the St. Gregory’s community.”
President Emeritus Main was appointed to his position as the 15th president of St. Gregory’s University on July 1, 2011. He had the opportunity to oversee a variety of successful initiatives during his tenure. His work led to the creation of St. Gregory’s Nursing Program in Shawnee, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. He also led a record fundraising effort to restore Benedictine Hall after being tragically damaged by an earthquake in November 2011.
Main came to Oklahoma in 1991 to serve as the Secretary of Commerce, where he created the job creation incentive program called Quality Jobs, called the most aggressive such program in the nation by U.S. News and World Reports. After his service to the State of Oklahoma, Main worked in venture capital investments and led the highly innovative i2E business investment program in Oklahoma.
In 2009, he was named the President of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, where he worked with Michigan’s leaders to save the nation’s auto industry. As lifelong devout Catholics, Greg and Barbara Main decided to accept the invitation of St. Gregory’s University for Greg Main to become its 15th President.

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There’s no better place in the realm of nursing than long-term care, says Karen Hicks, RN, MDS coordinator at Grace Living Center NW 10th Street in Oklahoma City.

Brighter days: RN brings joy and understanding to long-term care

story and photo by James Coburn

Karen Hicks has spent her entire nursing career of 23 years serving patient care at Grace Living Center NW 10th Street in Oklahoma City.
“It was my first job when I got out of LPN school — the first place I applied for,” said Hicks, RN, MDS coordinator. When I came in Grace Living Center had just taken it over from the previous owner.”
They were not looking to hire anyone at the time, but somebody caught her as she was walking out the door, and asked her to fill out an application.
“I was hired and I’ve been here ever since,” she said.
Hicks earned her degree in nursing at Rose State College in Midwest City. She received her LPN license in 1994 at Metro Technology Center in Oklahoma City. When she was doing her clinicals at Grace Brookwood in Bethany, she knew that long-term care was the focus of her nursing trajectory.
“I guess it’s just the residents, she said. “They need somebody to make their day a little bit brighter for the eight hours I’m here.”
She began working nights as a floor nurse. Since then she has participated in a number of area. Hicks has been a wound care nurse, assistant director of nursing, and coordinated Medicare assessments.
“I am mostly a paper work and computer nurse now,” she said.
Still she gets to work on the floor which pleases her. She has gotten to know many of the residents through the years She loves being able to make them a little bit happier. Many of them don’t have families that visit them regularly.
Nursing is something that Hicks has been close to throughout her life. Her mother worked as a nurse aide in a nursing home. Hicks would accompany her to work as a young girl. So she figures that might figure in to what motivated her to pursue a nursing career.
“When I was young I wanted to be a veterinarian and that didn’t happen,” she continued with laughter, mentioning her dogs.
Nursing was her next best option. If she couldn’t take care of animals, she would take care of people, she said.
“All of my residents are special,” she said. “The Alzheimer’s unit is probably one of my favorite places to work. You go back there and every day is like a new day to them.”
Anything she does to brighten their day makes them happy, she added.
“They are so grateful and so happy. I mean I’ve had special residents throughout the years, but it’s all of them,” she said.
She also credits the certified nurse aides for their hard work they contribute to the Grace Living Center team.
“It’s a hard job to do, so I really admire them for that,” Hicks said. “They put in a lot of hard working hours.”
Hick knows of numerous occasions when she has observed the nursing staff as a whole going beyond their call of duty.
“They’re all busy and I know that, but anytime they can stop and take a little extra time to do something that’s out of their way is great,” Hicks said.
Not only do they have the satisfaction of helping humanity, being a nurse provides a lot of stability, she said. But working in a nursing home is a proclivity not designed for everyone’s individual talents, she said.
“There are different settings for different people,” she said. “So I think this setting wouldn’t be for everybody as hospitals can’t be for everybody. I don’t want to work in an emergency room and save lives. I would rather be here and make the life that they have happy now. But some people wouldn’t be happy doing this either.”
Serving the geriatric community in a long-term care setting requires compassion and patience, Hicks explained. Sometimes the residents living with dementia may say or do some things that might not be appropriate, she said.
“You have to be forgiving and understanding,” Hicks said.
She meets them where they are in life. When a resident living with dementia believes they are still living on a farm and need to feed the horses, Hicks goes with their frame of mind by redirecting them.
“OK, let’s eat breakfast and you go take care of the horse afterwards,” she will tell them.
Hicks’ love of life carries over to her career. When not at work, she loves going to the race track.
“I’m a dirt track junkie,” she said. “My daughter races race cars. Her husband races race cars and my son races cars.
“And then the rest of the time I watch the grandkids playing baseball.”

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Teddy Dagnachew, a CNA and CMA at the Nova Center in Edmond, says each of the intellectually disabled residents there have much to offer in life.


by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer

Everyone has value at the Nova Center. The Nova Center is a 16-bed specialized intermediate care facility in Edmond for adults with intellectual disabilities. There are a lot of folks with physical disabilities as well.
The staffing pattern is a one to four ratio on the day shift. A nursing facility by license, its main focus as an ICFID is the training they do with the residents to help them develop the skills they need to be more independent.
“That’s what separates us from the typical nursing home,” said Bonnie Wells, executive director of EARC (Employment and Residential Centers)
EARC’s mission is to provide a better quality of life and encourage greater independence to individuals with developmental disabilities.
Some of the residents have been able to graduate to a home group setting in the EARC group homes, but this is rare at the Nova Center due to the severity of physical problems coinciding with intellectual disabilities. Several of the individuals have been at the Nova Center since it opened in 1989.
“So it is their life home, and we hope that if they go anywhere it would be moving to a more independent group home,” she said. “We hope we are able to keep them for as long as possible because this is a very home-like setting, a family-like setting,” Wells said.
The residents have known their roommates for many years. Turnover is usually when a resident passes away due to their medical condition.
“All of us want to stay in our home forever. And change is really hard on this population, especially since the majority of folks have some type of communication deficits,” Well said. “Many are non-verbal, so it’s difficult for those to communicate their needs.”
A stable staff is vital for the residents at Nova Center, someone they recognize and feel comfortable with, so that their needs can be met, Wells continued. Thirteen of the 16 residents are able to go to work at the work center The Trails and enjoy the opportunity.
It takes a lot of preparation to get them to work every day. Many of them have special diets. In another center these residents might be considered as total care, Wells explained.
“They take a well-prepared special meal to their work place, and if they need assistance eating there they get that there,” Wells said.
The Nova Center employs a registered nurse, CNAs, CMAs and advanced CMAs.
Teddy Dagnachew is a certified medication aide and a certified nurses’ assistant at the Nova Center. He is the kind of guy who will do whatever he is asked to do for the care of the residents, Wells said.
“He’s really good with the residents, very observant.,” she said. “If there’s any changes with behavior or anything like that, he’s going to be reporting that and making sure all his residents are taken care of.”
She said the residents love him. All of the staff is loving and caring with the residents, Wells added.
“Working here is more than work, it is a passion,” said Dagnachew, who has worked at the Nova Center for nearly five years. “We have a lot of interesting clients to work with. It’s a great environment to work in. And the experience I’ve got here with this community is kind of interesting in what you learn from them by helping them every single day to achieve in their life.”
Residents offer unconditional love, Dagnachew said. They are welcoming in their own ways.
“If you deeply go into their world and try to learn about them, get to know them, they have their special ways that they communicate with you,” Dagnachew said. “And you’ll be very amazed what they will be able to do. They can be able to advance, and that’s what I love about them.”
The residents teach how to love, Dagnachew said. It does not matter how stressful life can be outside of the Nova Center. Once he walks into the facility and is welcomed by the residents, he finds a piece of their communication that lightens up his day.
“You want to do more and more every day,” said Dagnachew, who also works as the activity coordinator for Brookdale Village near Hefner and May in Oklahoma City.
He said that the Nova Center gives him a peace of mind when returning home. The residents do a lot of things to help him help them.
During his leisure time, Dagnachew love spending his time with his family. He has a daughter and a fiancé. He met his fiancé when she previously worked at EARC.
“We come up and visit on the weekend. So it’s more like a family,” he said.

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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

Q. I told a co-worker that I think I am getting dementia because I can’t remember things, simple things like how to do everyday charting on the computer. Sometimes it seems difficult to process my thoughts. I would rate my stress level most days a 10 with 10 being so much stress I want to flee. I do not feel this way when I am away from my job.
What can I do? —- Jenny

A. Jenny here is some information that you might find very helpful:
Your body’s stress response is perfect in the short-term, but damaging if it goes on for days, weeks or longer. Raised levels of cortisol for prolonged periods can compromise your immune system and decrease the number of brain cells so impairing your memory. It can also affect your blood pressure and the fats in your blood making it more likely you will have a heart attack or stroke.
So, does stress kill brain cells?
The answer seems to be yes. Stress causes the release of cortisol. This hormone has been shown to damage and kill cells in the hippocampus (the brain area responsible for your episodic memory) and there is robust evidence that chronic stress causes premature brain aging.
Without cortisol you would die — but too much of it is not a good thing.
It’s quite clear that chronic stress is related to depression due to an excess release of cortisol into
the blood.
So with all this cortisol surging through the bodies of stressed out people and the truly damaging results; we need to make some changes.
These lyrics to Bob Dylan’s song, Things Have Changed give you something to think about. Is your job “potentially dangerous,” and “your mind can only stay healthy for so long,” and if you “are in a job that does not work for you”……………..YOU CAN’T WIN.

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

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What’s your routine after a shift? Integris Canadian Valley Hospital House Supervisors

Long commute home and then I play with my puppies. Megan Gorham, RN

I don’t have time for a routine. My bedtime is 8 p.m.  Christine McMurray, RN

I go home to see my four kids. Carrie Ellis, RN

I help my 23-year-old in pharmacy school and my 17-year-old in high school. Tina Fobes, RN


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Scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation need the help of minority volunteers to help expand their collection of human blood samples for research. Healthy individuals ages 19-90 are encouraged to participate.
“Our sample collection is a priceless resource that helps us learn more about diseases and identify better ways to treat and even prevent them,” said OMRF physician-scientist and Vice President of Clinical Affairs Judith James, M.D., Ph.D.
The foundation hopes to recruit up to 2,000 healthy African-American, Hispanic and American Indian individuals who are willing to have their blood samples stored and tested for blood markers of lupus, a disease in which the immune system becomes unbalanced and attacks the body’s own tissues. Lupus can result in damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, heart and lungs.
“For decades, we have worked with scientists worldwide to unlock the secrets of autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and others that tend to disproportionally strike minorities,” said James. “By donating these samples for research and further study, these generous people can help us learn more about lupus and other autoimmune diseases.”
The samples collected will be stored in OMRF’s Biorepository, an ultra-cold facility that houses more than 1 million coded biological samples gathered from research subjects over the past three decades. The biorepository serves as a resource for many clinical studies, as well as for multiple research projects around the globe.

If you are interested in participating or would like more information about the study, please call (405) 271-7221 or email

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OU Nursing-Alyssa Peterson
OU Nursing- Lisa Bailey
OU Nursing- Clara Edwards

From the moment they begin working toward a doctoral degree in nursing science, students at the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing at the OU Health Sciences Center learn about the importance of research to their careers.
To continually improve the profession and uncover new answers for the care of patients, nurse scientists conduct research in a multitude of areas, from cognitive effects of chemotherapy to depression in older adults.
Several students conducting research excelled at this year’s conference of the Midwest Nursing Research Society, a 13-state regional organization that promotes nursing science and supports the next generation of nurse scientists.
OU students won first place with their research posters in all three categories of competition: at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree levels.
“We have amazing students who are dedicated to the pursuit of research,” said Barbara Holtzclaw, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, associate dean for research at the OU College of Nursing. “Everything that nurses do for patients should have research evidence for it, and our students are being prepared to make a significant difference in their professions.”
Winners at the recent conference are:
* Alyssa Peterson, honors graduate, first place at the bachelor’s degree level, for her poster “Reminiscence Therapy to Improve Depressive Symptoms and Low Self-Esteem in Older Adults.” Her mentor is Dr. Barbara Holtzclaw.
* Lisa Bailey, first place at the master’s degree level, for her poster “Cognitive Effects of Chemotherapy on the Aging Woman.” Her mentor is Dr. Melissa Craft.
* Clara Edwards, first place at the doctoral degree level, for her poster “Assessing Dysphagia in Older Adults.” Her mentor is Dr. Karen Rose.
* Norma Hennen, honorable mention at the doctoral degree level, for her poster “Coercive Control and Suicide Risk: What is Known?” Her mentor is Dr. Janet S. Wilson.
Presenting their research at conferences is only one benefit of the experience. Students develop mentors within the MNRS community of scholars who serve as guides throughout the educational journey.
“We are very intentional about helping students develop mentoring relationships,” said Melissa Craft, Ph.D., APRN-CNS, AOCN, who is director of the college’s Ph.D. program and the Clinical Nurse Specialist program. “The mentors are doing research in their fields that is very exciting for the students, and they learn what it’s really like to incorporate research into their careers. It makes it real for students in a way that we can’t accomplish in lectures.”
The OU College of Nursing is the only doctoral program in Oklahoma that educates nurse scientists. The program is full of people who love the clinical practice of nursing and want to contribute to the field with research. In both research and practice, the patient is at the center of everything they do. Nurses may see 15 people a day in a clinical setting, but with research, findings may translate to benefit 1,500 people.
“Research is taking our knowledge and passions and working with patients in a way that will make a difference,” Craft said.
Nurse scientists don’t just work in academic settings. Hospitals and medical centers across the nation have research positions, which are attractive for nurses who want to stay in a clinical setting.
Lisa Bailey, who is working toward her doctorate, said her first-place award at this year’s conference was gratifying because of her topic and the recognition of its importance. She investigates the cognitive dysfunctions experienced by women who have undergone chemotherapy.
“While a diagnosis of breast cancer is overwhelming within itself, the struggles do not end when treatment is complete,” Bailey said. “Many of these women are dealing with alterations in their mental functioning while trying to adjust to life as a cancer survivor and maintain their role in life. I am driven to better understand this phenomenon, effective coping mechanisms and interventions that preserve quality of life for those who are effected.”
Knowing that her mentors, both at the OU College of Nursing and across the nation, will guide her education is exciting, she said. “Meeting and interacting with others in the profession provides vital connections to those with a similar research focus with whom I may be able to collaborate as I advance in my career,” Bailey said. “I left the conference with the feeling that I am moving in the right direction, and I have a high level of confidence to continue my research endeavors.”

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Pragatheeshwar Thirunavukarasu, M.D. (known as Dr. Prag).
Huan Nguyen Vu, M.D.


Cancer Treatment Centers of America® at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa (CTCA) announces the addition of two new surgical oncologists – Pragatheeshwar Thirunavukarasu, M.D. (known as Dr. Prag) and Huan Nguyen Vu, M.D. In addition, Dr. Vu also serves as Medical Director of Surgical Services.
In his new role at CTCA®, Dr. Prag focuses on tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, liver and pancreas and peritoneal surface malignancies. He employs advanced techniques and practices to treating a range of cancers, with a particular focus on advanced and metastatic disease.
While most of Dr. Vu’s focus will be on breast cancer surgery, he also provides surgical care for patients with colorectal, gastric, thyroid, melanoma, liver and pancreatic cancers.
Dr. Prag studied medicine at one of the leading medical colleges in India, completing a bachelor of medicine/bachelor of surgery (MD) degree in 2005. He then came to the United States for extensive postgraduate training. He completed a surgical internship and general surgery residency at the University of Pennsylvania and then at the University of Pittsburgh, respectively. With a research scholarship from the American College of Surgeons during his residency, he undertook a two-year fellowship at the Hillman Cancer Center, part of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, where his research focused on developing oncolytic viral gene therapies (for example, using genetically modified viruses to infect and kill cancer cells).
Dr. Prag also completed two clinical fellowships, first at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in complex general surgical oncology and then at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he trained specifically in hepatopancreaticobiliary surgery.

Dr. Prag is board certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery. He has made many presentations at the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology and the Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association, has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the
Annals of Surgery, JAMA Surgery, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and has served as an editor of a surgical oncology textbook.
Dr. Vu holds a doctor of medicine degree from Texas Tech University School of Medicine. His postgraduate medical training spanned more than 10 years. After completing a residency in general surgery at the University of South Alabama, he was a surgical oncology fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. He then spent three years as a senior research fellow focused on cancer angiogenesis at the National Cancer Institute.
During and following his training, Dr. Vu also held several teaching positions in surgical oncology at Texas Tech University and later was named Associate professor in surgical oncology at two large hospitals affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University, including the NCI-designated Massey Cancer Center. He has received numerous teaching awards throughout his career and has led several specialty courses for advanced medical training. He has also served as both a mentor and an advisor to medical students and surgical residents.
Dr. Vu is board certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery. He is certified in robotic surgery through Hunter-McGuire Veterans Administration Hospital.
Dr. Vu is a member of the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology, the Society of Surgery of the Alimentary Tract and several other professional organizations. He participated in laboratory research and also contributed to the latest edition of Oncology for the Primary Care Provider, a seminal reference book.
“We are excited to have Drs. Prag and Vu join our team and look forward to the capabilities they bring while helping to expand the surgical services we offer patients,” said Dr. Daniel Nader, chief of staff at the Tulsa hospital.

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For the ninth consecutive year, the United Way of Central Oklahoma has earned a 4-star rating – the highest possible – from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest charity ranking service. Acknowledged for its commitment to donor accountability and transparency, the United Way continues to effectively execute its mission in a financially efficient manner.
“It’s always very gratifying to receive such a strong endorsement from Charity Navigator,” said Debby Hampton, United Way of Central Oklahoma president and CEO. “Donor stewardship and accountability continue to be a top priority at United Way, and this rating reinforces that we are doing a good job in these two important areas.”
Using publicly available financial information, Charity Navigator promotes intelligent giving by providing report cards for more than 8,000 worldwide charities. The nonprofit organization measures charities on financial health, accountability and transparency to predict how efficiently a charity will use financial support. It then assigns each charity a score from zero to four stars. Only about a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of a 4-star rating.