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Jessica Thole, RN,Grace Living Center Edmond, says Grace nurses and residents receive a lot of support from upper management.

by James Coburn
Staff Writer

Jessica Thole, RN, Grace Living Center Edmond, says she has alway had a heart for the elderly. She grew up staying at her great-grandmother’s house every weekend in an independent living center.
“I’d stay the night at her house and I’d go downstairs and play cards with her and all of her friends. I just fell in love with the elderly and knew that was exactly what I wanted to do,” Thole said. “I never really wanted to work in a hospital or any other field. I knew exactly what I wanted.”
She knew she wanted to do something in the medical field. At a young age she considered becoming a physician, but quickly recognized her calling to have a nursing career.
Her first job came 11 years ago when she was a dietary aide in a nursing home at age 16.
“Probably between 13 and 16 I might have seen the other nurses and wished I could do more for residents,” she said. “I still enjoy giving them their drinks and dinner, and being able to talk to them in the dining room, but I always wish to do more.”
She has been with Grace for almost two years. She and her husband moved to Oklahoma from Kansas in 2015 as a career move for her husband.
“I was new to the area when I came here. Grace seemed to be the best rated in the area,” she said. “What I really like here is our Director of Nursing Tracey Brian. She is amazing. She’s caring and gets to know you on a personal level.”
Thole became a registered nurse in 2013 after graduating from Pratt Community College in Kansas. She had been an LPN since 2011.
“I just like to hear their stories. They are all very sweet and treat you like family if you treat them like family,” Thole said. “They’re fun to be around. They always make you laugh.”
She said it’s a fun job when she can laugh everyday with Grace residents. Residents with memory loss touch her heart, she said. Her other great grandmother lived with dementia in her later years, she continued.
“It breaks your heart at first when they don’t remember you, but you can’t let it get to you, and you have to make them feel as comfortable as you can,” Thole said.
Treating them like family makes them more comfortable, she said. Even though they might not remember her name, they remember her face, Thole said.
“They are glad to see you even though they have dementia,” Thole said.
It is important not be become frustrated as a nurse when communicating with somebody living with Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes she will gently remind them about multiple types of things.
“Sometimes you just have to play along with them and not let them get frustrated because you’re trying to tell them something different than what’s in their head,” Thole said. “You just have to play along with them and keep the conversation going whether it’s true or not.”
Her goal is to have residents’ families come to Grace Living Center Edmond and be happy when they see she is on the floor working to take care of their loved ones. Residents will tell her at time, “I love you,” Thole said.
“They look at me when I come in and say, ‘Oh, it’s you today.’ They are happy that I am their nurse that day. That makes me happy that I can make them happy.”
Families feel confident when noticing the team spirit among the nursing staff. Working together brings progress.
“We’ve got a lot of good nurses here,” Thole said.
Seeing a new nurse always makes Thole happy on the floor doing what is the job of a CNA, she said. They are on the floor doing full care, going above and beyond their call of duty by cleaning up a room.
Grace nurses enjoy the people they work beside and share compassion blended with fine skills, Thole said.
“I think the main thing is loving what you do,” Thole said. “I think it’s hard to be a nurse unless you really love what you do.”
Nurses must not only take care of other but themselves, too. Thole loves her career and family life. She and her husband like to travel a lot, she said. Her dad has a lake house in Missouri.
“I love to spend time there,” she said. “I love to take our dog there fishing.”
The couple just got their golden retriever puppy six months ago.

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Dawn Watson, RN and nurse consultant, educates nurses to make sure residents and patients have the best quality of care.

Seasoned nurse shares best practices


by James Coburn, Staff Writer

Dawn Watson loves her work as an RN consultant overseeing six long-term care facilities and two living centers. They are located the metro under the Southwest Health Care Management group.
“We’re actually transitioning to StoneGate Senior Living soon. They will be our new owners and we’re excited about that,” Watson said on a day spent at Meadow Lake Estates in Oklahoma City.
StoneGate Senior Living currently has two facilities in Tulsa, one in Lawton, Norman, and a new one under construction in Oklahoma City.
“That will be five more facilities that Tamera Meadows and I will be overseeing as RN consultants,” Watson said.
Watson began working for Southwest Health Care Management Group in 2002 and travels to all of the facilities.
“I like to teach. I like to make sure that all of our staff is educated. I help them with problems, making sure they are providing the best possible to our residents so they are happy and healthy,” Watson said.
A nursing school graduate of Oklahoma City Community College, Watson supported herself during school as a nurse extern at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center until her graduation. She worked there in the arenas of intermediate care and pediatrics.
Later she was hired as Nursing Director at Ranchwood Nursing Center in Yukon and has been with the management company ever since.
“I’m in each home depending on what’s going on,” she said.
Watson will fill in when a Director of Nursing is absent. She also trains new DONs for management positions. She tries to make sure that she visits each home a minimum of once a week while sharing duties Watson said.
“When you have staff that cares and you can see that they care about the residents and want to make sure that they are happy is what I admire,” Watson said. “They see that they are healthy and taken care of. They go above and beyond to try to make sure those things happen.”
“That’s the most important thing. There’s a lot of staff here at Meadow Lake Estates and all of our buildings are very caring.”
She attributes success of nursing to teamwork of the people she works with and works for daily.
“They care about you and they let you know that,” Watson said.
Longevity abounds among the nursing staffs of the homes she visits. Many of the nurses began their careers as certified nurse aides. As a nurse Watson worked with them 20 years ago. One of them, Leslie Wafer, is the Director of Nurses at Ranchwood Nursing Center.
“It’s neat for me to see these people get to grow and develop their careers,” Watson said. “I’ve watched that over the years and it’s been great.”
Ranchwood has been a 5 Star Nursing facility for quite a while, Watson continued. Meadow Lake Estates also had a federal survey last year with zero deficiencies.
“That’s almost unheard of,” said Watson, who became a nurse simply because she cares about people. She always knew she would have a career allowing her to help humanity.
“I always go back to quality of life,” she said of the primary needs of residents. “We are like their extended family. This is their home and we are here to take care of them and make sure they are happy, that all their needs are being met.”
Overwhelmingly the residents have so much knowledge gained in life. They are a reflection of history, Watson said.
“They love the staff that takes care of them and they are so thankful. I love hearing their stories,” she added. “They always let me know how thankful they are. It makes me feel good and it makes me feel I am contributing.”
Watson gives credit for the residents’ positive feedback to the DON and staff.
Most of her leisure time is spent with her husband Gary. The couple just celebrated 31 years of marriage. She has a daughter and son, both adults. Watson also likes spending time with her granddaughters, ages 4 and 2.
“My 2-year-old was born with multiple heart defects,” Watson said. “She’s been through a lot and will be having another major surgery this year (at Children’s Hospital).”
There are all kinds of nurses and the care her granddaughter receives at Children’s Hospital is excellent , she said. All nurses are specialized and fill a need in the industry.
“There is no job that is more prestigious than another one,” she said. “It’s just all about being in the nursing industry and helping people.”

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Christina Stuart, APRN, CNS spearheads a unique social safety net program at Integris Southwest Medical Center.


by Bobby Anderson – Writer/Photographer

As a little girl, Integris Southwest Medical Center’s Christina Stuart, APRN, CNS always found herself picking flies out of spiderwebs.
There was just something about those helpless creatures struggling to get free.
Stuart felt it was her responsibility to help.
Years later, it’s no wonder she became a nurse.
“I always had the heart to take care of people,” said Stuart, who originally started college on the zoology/pre-med track with an eye on OBGYN.
Then motherhood came and she figured out she needed to balance her love for healthcare and children.
Nursing was a natural option. She spent her first nine years in the ICU and the last three years she went back and got her master’s and then her nurse practitioner.
“I realized in the process that I’m not an individual that cares to focus in on one organ system,” she said. “When I take care of a patient I like the holistic approach.”
Stuart blossomed in the ICU, probably because every day was a challenge.
“I love puzzles and every patient to me was a puzzle,” she said. “I wanted to fix them, put them back together and figure out what was going on. I was very thorough.”
So thorough that she became the department’s educator and also earned on a spot on the hospital’s medical intervention team nurse.
When a nurse on the floor found herself up against a life-threatening problem she just couldn’t figure out then Stuart and a host of others would be paged to perform an assessment and figure out if an intervention or transfer were needed.
And all too often Stuart found herself figuring out exactly what the patient needed but then waiting for the doctor to come verify.
“And you had to try to convince them at times,” she said. “And a lot of them there tends to be ego. I figured out well gosh dangit I’m going to do this myself and I’m going back to school.”
Frustration turned into her future. She worked full-time ICU nights, raising a nine-year-old and a two-year-old while going to clinicals and doing papers during the day for nurse practitioner school.
Sleep equaled three-four hours a night.
It’s one of the reasons she began working with the hospitalist group at Southwest for several years.
“I realized that the consults – the specialists – they were only able to dabble in their specialty area,” she said. “I loved the fact that the entire patient was mine so I wasn’t limited to just the heart, just the lungs and if I saw something else by all means I was going to address it.”
Stuart credits those nine years in the ICU as sharpening her critical thinking skills to a razor’s edge.
It’s a main reason she’s the nurse she is today.
And her background helps her everyday as she heads up an innovative safety net program at Integris Southwest Medical.
Community Care Coordination team or 550 (a number derived from statistics that show five percent of the surrounding population uses 50 percent of Integris Southwest resources) is Stuart’s latest challenge.
The team consists of Stuart, who functions as the interim healthcare provider, Niki Rangel, MWS and Dona Petty, LCSW.
Patients who have significant social issues (substance abuse, homeless, etc.) which exacerbate underlying conditions are the program’s main target.
The Integris Southwest Volunteers program has donated $500 per month for the next year to help buy patient medication, supplies,
Currently, Stuart holds most of the roles in the program from DLO courier to APRN.
“It’s a pilot program,” she laughs.”I’m the everything for every order I write.”
It’s a daily challenge.
The only constant is that the patient population doesn’t have money and the resources are always limited.
“Every day is a different day,” she says.
“The thing about this team that I love is you form relationships with your patients,” Stuart continued. “We’re like family because we’re so close-knit. Every patient needs all of us. They all need medical and typically they all need counseling and they all need social work.”
The needs are so great and, more often than not, Stuart finds herself meeting them all over the south side of the metro.
“I perform wound care in parking lots and in streets because a lot of these patients are homeless,” Stuart said. “We kind of consider ourselves a MASH unit too because we have to find them.”
Bandaging homeless patient wounds at the local 7-11 to helping get patients approved for disability and even finding them housing, the program runs the gamut.
And all those years later, Stuart laughs when she realizes she’s still trying to save those in need tangled in the spiderwebs of life.

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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 news@okcnursingtimes.com

Q. I am trying really hard to manage my stress better but the medical model troubles me. Are pharmaceutical drugs really the answer? I know so many people who rely on their drugs but are missing out on other alternative therapies that might work. Here is what I have learned. —– Mindy

A. A friend of mine recently tried acupuncture for her anxiety and stress that she held in her neck and shoulders. She felt some relief after the first treatment but even more by the second and third. She now goes once a month. She also experienced the calm and relaxation of the entire experience. While laying on the table, the room was dimly light with soft music playing. It was something that she could recreate at home with some re-training.
I have become a big fan of massage therapy. My sister gave me a gift card, so I thought ok what have I got to lose. As it turned out I had everything to gain. It was wonderful. I was immobile for one hour, I was not multitasking anything. When my brain would think about what I was going to buy at Target, I would push it away and try to re-focus.
My friend Susan is a big fan of yoga. She builds it into her weekly routine going at least 3 times a week. It is a strenuous workout but do not fear, you fit it to your body’s ability to do what it can. If the person next to you is twisted into a pretzel and you can only lift one leg, that’s ok, at least you are moving. The “feel good” after yoga class makes it all worth it. Xanax cannot create that feeling. I know I have tried it.
So I am currently working on MINDFULNESS. Now that takes some practice. BEING IN THE MOMENT!!! How many of us can do that? When I can do it I realize just how great it is and how the benefits are even greater. To not worry about a darn thing. To not think about the past or the future. To hear the sounds around you. To really see what is around you. It is the best medicine ever. To just be in the moment.
Another non-pharmaceutical stress reducer is being in the company of people who share your energy and truly make you feel good. Don’t waste it on people who leave you more stressed. Take inventory of who you enjoy being around and increase the time. Don’t say lets get together sometime. Get your planner and make a date.
Want to save all that drug money?? Try laughter. It is amazingly good for the body. AMAZING!!! There is not enough of it. Seek out funny people, watch funny shows, go to funny movies. Add more laughter.
There are many choices for stress relief, pharmaceutical drugs is only one option, and probably not the best one. Try some of the above suggestions. Be open minded. Namaste

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Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D.

The National Institute on Aging has awarded a $9 million grant to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and three other institutions to study age-related muscle loss.
This collaborative effort is headquartered at the University of Michigan and includes OMRF, the University of Liverpool (U.K.), and core facilities at the Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Over the five-year grant, OMRF scientist Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D., will receive $2.1 million to research mechanisms of sarcopenia, a disease in which the body loses skeletal muscle mass.
“Every institution involved is using the same model system and has the same basic questions about sarcopenia, but each of us has our own expertise and our own toolbox, so to speak,” said Van Remmen. “By combining different approaches, we can hit a problem from several directions.”
In her laboratory at OMRF, Van Remmen will study mice that exhibit muscle wasting and weakness. ”We believe that neurons and muscles play a coordinated role in age-related muscle loss, and that this process may be initiated by certain highly reactive oxygen radicals,” she said.
Van Remmen’s hope is that by pinpointing the triggers for sarcopenia, researchers may ultimately devise ways to disrupt the process.
The new grant is the third five-year grant for the four institutions, who have been working together for a decade to understand why the muscles atrophy as they age.
“We’ve had a good run of publications come out of this partnership, and it’s exciting to have earned a third round of funding. It certainly speaks to the progress we’re making,” said Van Remmen, who holds the G.T. Blankenship Chair in Aging Research at OMRF. “By better understanding these basic mechanisms, we can know where to target interventions. You have to know what is going wrong before you can treat a condition, and we are looking for the answers.”
The grant, 5P01 AG051442-01A1, is funded by the NIA, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

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St. Anthony Nurse Practitioner Talks Symptoms, Dangers and Treatments of Pneumonia

Coughing, sneezing, runny nose- it’s an epidemic this time of year. Doctor’s offices are full of patients, pharmacy lines are long, winter is definitely not known for being the healthiest time of year.
For this very reason people of all ages struggle through the winter season; however, there are some that struggle more than most. Though some winter illnesses are simply an annoyance, for others they can turn into something a little more alarming.
“Generally the peak time of year for pneumonia is winter time. It tends to affect older adults more because they have weaker immune systems, and other illnesses that lower their ability to fight pneumonia off on their own,” said St. Anthony Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Michelle Ellenburg.
Pneumonia is typically initiated by bacteria or viruses, causing inflammation of the lungs, which causes your body to become very tired and worn down. Where just like other illnesses pneumonia is an annoyance to have, it still should be taken very seriously.
The main symptoms of pneumonia are fever, cough which may or may not be productive, shortness of breath, muscle aches, chills, and chest pain,” said Ellenburg. It’s important not to ignore these symptoms as the condition can easily worsen. “The dangers of having pneumonia include developing an aggressive systemic infection, lungs filling with fluid, and a decrease in overall lung function,” she added.
Medications used to treat pneumonia are generally antibiotics and steroids. Recovery depends on the severity of the illness. Some patients can recover in as little as 48 hours, where for some it can take several weeks or longer. So how can we prevent pneumonia?
“Vaccinate! There are two vaccines that protect us from pneumonia. At age 65 all qualify for the Prevnar 13 vaccine, and a year later should follow up with the Pneumonvax vaccine to be fully vaccinated,” recommended Ellenburg. For those under 65, some may qualify early for the vaccine due to pre-existing conditions. “Some patients may qualify for early vaccination if they have for example, Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD) or diabetes. People should also stop smoking; this can greatly reduce risk.”
If you start exhibiting signs of pneumonia, it’s best to see a physician right away. “Your provider may need to do a chest x-ray and request blood work, so they may determine how to best treat you,” said Ellenburg.
St. Anthony Physicians Group Pulmonary & Family Medicine is open Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and is located at 6205 N. Santa Fe, Suite 201, in Oklahoma City. To make an appointment with Michelle Ellenburg please call 405-272-8338 or schedule online at saintsnearyou.com/primarycare.

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Jaime Archer (left) and Jacob Farni (right) at March for Life in Washington, D.C.

On Friday, January 27, several students and faculty from St. Gregory’s attended the 44th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. to participate in the march against abortion.
March for Life in Washington D.C. is the world’s largest annual pro-life demonstration. Several well-known speakers also attended the march, including Vice President Mike Pence as well as Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York Cardinal, and Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson.
Jacob Farni, a senior at St. Gregory’s, made his second trip to Washington D.C. to participate at March for Life.
“My experience at the March for Life was truly a profound, formative, and inspiring experience,” said Farni. “It brought a great hope to those who are pro-life in that it showed us that Christ is with all of us who stand up for the truth. Seeing the great multitude of people brought great joy and pride to my heart.”

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CTCA Hospitals Now Recruiting Patients for ASCO’s Groundbreaking Trial

Trial designed to identify uses of molecularly-targeted cancer drugs outside of the current indications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Cancer Treatment Centers of AmericaR (CTCA) has begun enrolling patients nationwide, across their five-hospital system, to the Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR) Study¡Xthe American Society of Clinical Oncology¡¦s (ASCO) first-ever clinical trial. The study launched earlier this year will evaluate molecularly targeted cancer drugs and collect data on clinical outcomes to learn about additional uses of these drugs outside of indications already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). CTCAR hospitals are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa.
”We are excited to have CTCA join the TAPUR Study. Their national reach allows us to provide access to the trial to a diverse group of patients,” said ASCO Chief Medical Officer Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FASCO. “With TAPUR, CTCA patients have the potential to benefit from targeted therapies that have already demonstrated effectiveness in other cancer types.”
The trial involves broader opportunity for participation than in many cancer clinical trials – with the hope of enabling more patients to participate. Eligible participants include those who have an advanced solid tumor, multiple myeloma, or B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, are no longer benefitting from standard anti-cancer treatments, or for whom no acceptable standard treatment is available. Patients enrolled in the study will have access to experimental targeted cancer drugs at no cost. The study aims to:
„* Learn how approved drugs might work against different tumor types that harbor the drug target
„* Find out how genomic or molecular tests are used to care for people with advanced cancer
„* Use the study results to help inform future studies and aid in the care of people with cancer
“Being part of the ASCO TAPUR Study is an exciting opportunity and allows us to offer eligible cancer patients access to new treatment options under investigation,” said Maurie Markman, MD, President of Medicine & Science at CTCA. “In addition, our unique and robust precision medicine program helps remove both the financial and educational barriers patients experience when accessing genomic sequencing, which determines eligibility for this landmark trial.”
CTCA is the first hospital in the Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa area to offer patient access to the TAPUR trial.
Patients can learn more about TAPUR at CTCA by contacting the Clinical Trials team at clinicaltrials@ctca-hope.com or by calling an Oncology Information Specialists at 888-841-9129. Oncology Information Specialists are available around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to discuss treatment options offered at CTCA.

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The INTEGRIS Foundation is pleased to announce it has received a $45,800 grant from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation’s Wellness Initiative program. The grant will be used to expand the footprint of INTEGRIS’, “Challenge Yourself: Health & Fitness” program into two new locations, Crossing’s Community Center and Fillmore Elementary.
“We are so pleased to have received this grant,” said Anne Clouse, vice president and executive director of the INTEGRIS Foundation. “This will allow us to reach more families in need. We appreciate this meaningful gift from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.”
The “Challenge Yourself: Health & Fitness” program is offered within the Oklahoma City metro area to men and women over a 12-month period. These weekly sessions cover a variety of health topics, combined with an introduction to diverse exercise modalities such as walking, chair exercise and cardio calisthenics. The program has seen tremendous growth since its inception growing from eight to 80 participants, and this grant will continue to strengthen and expand the program’s reach in the community.