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New chief administrative officer, David Whitaker.

With 16 hospitals and more than 80 clinics in Oklahoma, Mercy has announced plans to expand its outreach in the Sooner State.
“Mercy already has a strong presence in north Oklahoma City and Edmond,” said Mercy Hospital regional president, Di Smalley. “We are ready to provide that same level of patient care to those in south Oklahoma City and the surrounding communities.”
Leading that charge will be new chief administrative officer, David Whitaker, who has served as president and chief executive officer for Norman Regional Health System for the last 16 years. Before that, he served as the president and chief operating officer for United Regional Health Care System and Bethania Regional Health Care Center, both in Wichita Falls, Texas. Whitaker was recently elected incoming chairman of the Oklahoma Hospital Association.
“I am excited to be part of Mercy’s identity in Oklahoma City and in our state,” Whitaker says. “I look forward to expanding the excellent care that so many depend on from Mercy.”
Mercy already is well established in south Oklahoma City with the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, which opened at Interstate 240 and Sooner Road in January 2010. “We are always looking for ways to better care for and cater to our patients,” Smalley said. “David Whitaker and our newly created south Oklahoma City division will be a wonderful addition.”
“I am overjoyed to be a part of Mercy’s award-winning team, and I am thrilled to be back in the Catholic health care ministry,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker will join Mercy on Mar. 29.

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The latest clinical guidelines and best practices for physicians and educators

Expert presentations will include updated clinical approaches for diabetes patient management and multidisciplinary strategies for diabetes self-care and education.
The SUMMIT is presented by Harold Hamm Diabetes Center and co-provided by the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and the OU Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing. Up to 8.0 CEUs are available to qualifying participants.
The Summit will be held Friday, april 22nd, 2016 from 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Downtown/Medical Center, Oklahoma City, OK.
Details and registration at

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Susan Barnes, Dean and Professor, School of Nursing at St. Gregory’s University takes time out of her busy schedule to pet her sweet little therapy dog, Tillie Mae.

by Vickie Jenkins

I was fortunate to meet with Susan Barnes, RN, PH.D, CNE, FCN Dean and Professor, School of Nursing at St. Gregory’s University. What an amazing woman! Barnes was at Oklahoma City University for 8 years and began at St. Gregory’s University in January 2014. Starting a new nursing program, she became Dean and Professor of School of Nursing. “I love my job. Starting with a new nursing program, we have some new faculty members and new students and it is exciting to see the new program take off so well,” Barnes says.
Barnes has been a nurse since 1974. “That’s a long time,” she says with a laugh. Barnes graduated from Northern Oklahoma College. “I am very proud of myself for going to that college. I am a third generation from that school. My grandfather went there before Oklahoma was even a state and it is a special feeling to know that I carried on from there. I grew up in Ponca City, OK. I married at a young age and my husband was in the military. We ended up moving to Texas so I continued my education in Texas. I received my Masters and Doctrine at UTR. I received my Bachelors from the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, TX,” Barnes states.
“How did you decide to become a nurse?” I ask Barnes. “Well, it’s kind of a funny story. I went to OU on a scholarship in Philosophy. After a little while, I realized that philosophy was something that I didn’t want to do. I wanted to find something that would actually better peoples’ lives. I knew that nursing would be a profession of helping people and it would also give me a steady income in the future. So, I set my goal on becoming a nurse. Actually, in the long run, the classes I had on Philosophy helped me in nursing,” she replied. “I teach Philosophy of Science, Ethics and Theory so it all worked out,” she added.
Asking Barnes if she had any mentors in nursing school, she was quick to answer. When I was going through school for my Ph.D. I looked up to several people that had a lasting impression on me. One was Maryann Madison. I was with her at UT. She was such an astute and particular person. Barbara Holtzclaw was a big part of my life. Louis Salmeron, Director of Research was also a mentor to me in graciousness and kindness. I will always be grateful to all of them.”
I asked Barnes to explain the new nursing program at St. Gregory’s. “We started a new RN and Nursing in general program here. We accept Freshman, Sophomore and Juniors. Next year will be the first time we will have Seniors graduating. So far, the Trustees are pleased with the success that we have seen. They feel that the program is aligned with the health profession and they only see improvement ahead. I have to add, we have some brilliant staff members and students. Everything is going along so well,” she said.
“How do you feel the nursing program overall, has changed over the years?” “I think that the students are doing more in the nursing program now. When I started out, I was more of a blue-collar worker. Now, there is more respect for the nursing profession. People seem to recognize the genuine love and compassion that a nurse has for their patient and their co-workers. That is a very important factor,” Barnes commented.
Describing herself in 3 words, Barnes replied, “I would rather have someone else do it,” she laughed. “Well, I know that I am flexible. I think I am also very tenacious, or so I’ve been told. I am also innovative. I think that sums up the description of me in 3 words.”
Not only did others influence Barnes’ life but she has had a big influence on others’ lives. She has 4 family members that decided to follow in her footsteps. The first one is her husband, followed by her son, daughter and son-in-law. “If there is any kind of emergency around the house, we just look at each other and ask, What do you think?” she said with a smile.
In Barnes’ opinion, the qualities that make a good nurse consist of the knowledge of hard thinking and their problem solving. They have to take their nursing skills of taking care of a corporal body and truly have love and care for their patients and love for their co-workers.
When I asked Barnes what her hobbies were, her face seemed to light up with enthusiasm. “My hobby, my fun time consists of spending time with my 6 grandchildren, ages 2 to 13. I’ve got another grandchild on the way too,” she added. “I have 2 horses and a mule so when the grandchildren come to visit over the weekend, the time is filled with all the grandchildren riding the horses. They love it and I enjoy watching them have such a good time.”
Barnes wears many hats as Dean of Nursing. She has done 3 Post Doctrine Fellowships on higher education and has had the opportunity to speak internationally in Vancouver, Edinburgh, Scotland and several times in the UK. She will be going back to Africa in March 2016 regarding a graduate study and pursuing a global education. This will also give her a chance to collaborate with other nursing schools. She has also been recognized in Arts Interpretation in Arts Education.
“Overall, according to Barnes, Father Abbott Lawrence Stasyszen O.S.B. of St. Gregory’s University is pleased with the teaching and the new program that has been opened for the nursing students. We put a creative approach on our teaching. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these students and it is something that they can’t get back. In a way, we consider them scrappy which means the students come here and they don’t know what to expect yet they are so teachable in every aspect. They are setting up for the future and it is up to us to help mold them into that special individual that they are meant to be. Everyone starts out as scrappy and it is up to us to see that they believe in themselves,” Barnes explains.
“What is your favorite thing about your job here at St. Gregory’s?” I ask. “I love negotiating with people and I put a creative aspect on it. I love seeing the students take a chance on a new opportunity and I love to watch the blazing trail.”

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Professor Denise Burton, RN, chair of the RN to BSN education program at Kramer School of Nursing and Dr. Liz Diener, RN, chair of graduate programs and are happy to meet with students to explain the options of nursing careers.

Kramer keeps moving on
New nursing programs make dreams come true

story and photo by James Coburn, Staff Writer

New additions are coming to Kramer School of Nursing at Oklahoma City beyond their traditional curriculum with their RN to BSN program. The programs are designed to help many nursing students move forward in their careers.
Kramer will also begin live-streaming of some of their gradate programs, said Dr. Liz Diener, RN, chair of graduate programs.
The RN to BSN program is not new at Kramer but it will be offered at Duncan Regional, said Professor Denise Burton, RN, chair of the RN to BSN education program. Kramer recently had an open house at the hospital.
“For us it’s just merely a change of site,” Burton said. “We’re in Ardmore and will soon be in Duncan in the fall and here in Oklahoma City,” Burton said. “I think we are reaching out to those rural communities. My best example is the work we’ve done in Ardmore.
“You can’t go to any department at Mercy in Ardmore and not see our graduates. So we’ve really strengthened their climb on the education ladder.”
Several Kramer graduates already work in Duncan, including Cindy Rauh, RN, who serves at chief nurse officer at Duncan Regional. The same faculty that teaches in Oklahoma City will also teach in Duncan.
“I think that really strengthens our program,” Burton said.
Most of the RN to BSN students are currently working. They range in age from 35 to maybe 55, Burton added. They gravitate toward the face-to-face nursing classes. However, their general education courses are offered online.
“We’re there to help them if they’ve never taken an online course,” Burton added.
Enrollment is underway for Duncan and the Oklahoma City campus. The RN to BSN program in Duncan will be offered half-a-day a week and the program lasts for two semesters. For Duncan it will begin in August. Ardmore begins in January, she said.
“Oklahoma City starts every August and every January,” Burton said.
Diener said Kramer will begin live streaming in the fall for its nursing programs in education and nursing leadership. This particular program has been offered at the Oklahoma City campus for many years.
“It requires an on-campus presence half-a-day a week, every other week. Or depending on your course frequency or schedule, it could be a half day every week,” Diener said.
This can be a hardship for students living in far away rural areas as they have driven to Oklahoma City University from as far away as Duncan and Ardmore. That can pose a long day for them as it impacts their working schedule, Diener said. So the live streaming will make it easier for students by offering additional flexibility.
“We will have the ability with the courses we now offer to live stream that. We’re going to use Skype for Business,” Diener continued. “Students will be able to join the class virtually through the live streaming. For communities that are rural and are too far to drive, they will be able to work on their masters degree.”
Having an in-class group will always be valued at Kramer as well. It will merely be an online program to provide face-to-face time for students advancing their careers in nursing. They will be able to achieve their dreams.
Kramer is also hiring faculty for a new program in the fall for the BSN to DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice degree) program for the nurse practitioner, Diener said.
“This fall we will be offering an acute care track, and it has a two-fold practice,” she explained. “One is there are a lot of family nurse practitioners or adult nurse practitioners out there, who work in primary care in rural communities.”
They are responsible for going to the small hospitals in the rural communities to see patients or to perform a shift in the emergency room. The Oklahoma State Board of Nursing wants the nurse practitioners to be prepared to handle these acute care challenges.
“So in order for these advanced nurse practitioners to continue, they need to have specific education for the acute care environment,” Diener explained. “So we are offering both a post masters certificate in the acute care track and then the full bachelor’s to DNP program to those who know their primary call to work is going to be in acute care facilities as opposed to primary care in an individualized practice.”
Kramer will be starting with a small group of these nursing professionals this fall. Inquiries about the program have already started for Kramer. Diener expects quite a number of applicants will respond to the program.
“It’s going to be relatively competitive,” Diener said. “But then as we grow, the program will grow as well. But there is a real call for it as we have people already calling saying, ‘Wow. Yes, put me in it.”

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Cynthia Flatt, RN, has a friendly and encouraging spirit that is ripe for home health care.


by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer

Cynthia Flatt’s nursing career allows her to see how her home health patients’ lifestyles interact with the care they receive, she said from her office at Innova Home Health, located in Oklahoma City.
Innova Home Health is a nationally accredited Medicare certified and state licensed home health care agency. Home health allows her the time she needs to get to know everyone on a personal level of care.
“You’re not in and out like in a hospital,” said Flatt, a nursing school graduate of Rose State College in Midwest City.
She began her nursing career 13 years ago. She has been in home health for the last four years. Her nursing career also encompasses pediatrics, long-term acute care, hospice and medical surgical at Norman Regional Hospital. Flatt came to Innova in 2015 where she was warmly welcomed, she said.
“I’ve done everything else,” she said. “And this is the only thing I’ve found where you can actually get to know the patients. I see them in their environment where they are more relaxed. They divulge more information when they are in their own home.”
Being a home health nurse provides ample time for her to sit down with her patients to learn more about their health care needs.
“I love that part,” she said.
Flatt has always identified herself with nursing, even as a child in the small town of McCloud. She is the first nurse in her family.
“If someone had a (problem), I was always the one they came to. It was just never a question that I was going to be a nurse,” she said. “There was never a deciding factor. I was going to be a doctor until I found out how much it would cost at the school I was going to go to.”
Flatt said she has worked for several home health agencies, but Innova is different because it instills a team effort among its nursing staff. She appreciates that the physical therapists at Innova are in-house without being under contract.
“Everywhere else had no idea what was going on with their therapy, but here they sit down with us every week during a case conference about every patient,” Flatt said. “Even patients they don’t have, they still know what is going on with them. I like that about them.”
The nursing staff is small enough that every nurse knows every patient. Flatt said she is able to be updated about the progress of patients that she does not see on a regular basis. She never attends a patient that she knows nothing about.
“We’re always interacting and talking about what’s going on with the patients and that’s not something every agency does,” she continued. “The nurses will ask about your patient and that’s something that’s rare because at bigger agencies, you’re too busy.”
Flatt said one of her patients is a man who recently lost his wife. The other nurses asked how he is doing since his wife passed away.
Flatt has only been with Innova for a few months and never had an opportunity to meet his wife. So the other nurses told her about how they were doing when his wife was alive.
“I thought that’s good to know; that they could tell me about stuff like that about a patient I have never even seen,” Flatt said. “I really like that about them. They take time to care about how your patients are doing.”
All of her nursing experiences in other fields carries over to home health care. The knowledge she gained is indispensable, she said.
Her experience working with acute long-term care patients afforded her time to become proficient in wound care.
“That’s helped me a lot,” Flatt said.
When she’s in a home and sees a wound, Flatt is alone to begin mending the wound.
Her experiences in hospice care galvanized her empathy to communicate with patients and family members in grief.
“And hospital care, I can tell my patients about what’s going to happen when they go to the hospital,” Flatt continued. “If a procedure is coming up and they want to know what’s going to happen when they get there — I can tell them.”
She giggled when asked how she likes to spend her time when away from work.
“I have three daughters and grandbabies,” she said. “That’s basically what I do is play with the grandbabies. I don’t get a lot of fun or things like that because I am busy a lot.”
“So when I am down, it’s either sleeping or playing with grandbabies.”
She didn’t go to nursing school and wanted to raise her kids before attending college so they could attend school first.
“That helped me a lot. I knew I would eventually go and when they got a little bit bigger I did,” she said.

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by Licia McCurdy, B.S. LPN

by Licia McCurdy, B.S. LPN

Affirmation means the existence of something that is true. The word truth is interesting to me because it’s so subjective. We all have our own “truths” when it comes to knowing who we are, deep down. When I write about a “truth,” I’m referring to the tapping into of our deepest honesties. I’ve often heard this expressed as a soul searching process. Being honest with yourself is hard. I recently took a Physics class in college and it was very difficult. When I compare Physics to Social Science, I realize that the difficulties within the Social Sciences are much more complex, yet there are also some helpful similarities. Good research, trial and error and intuition are all significant factors when reaching a conclusion; however, you can’t forget to eliminate the inbred biases.
I believe it’s important for each of us to define who we are instead of allowing our cohabiters or environments to define us. How much do they contribute to defining you as a human being? This is a question I have often asked myself. You see, it’s not about how other people perceive us. Our spirits are trapped within these cultural and social misconceptions. It’s about how we’ve diminished the importance of our own personal “truths.” It’s about forgetting the impact that being self-actualized has on one’s life. Simply put, the problem often exists within the insufficient organization of personal priorities.
Discovering your truth is essential to a human being’s evolution of personal growth. Fixing or improving something in your life does not necessarily mean you’re moving in the right direction. For example, an improvement could be defined as planting some “fake landscaping.” It may look beautiful at the time, it may APPEAR the way you want it to, but it requires little nurturing and the reality is that “this garden will NEVER grow.” When I think about life (in general) I think about that metaphor. Simply put, if you want to grow…don’t be fake. Always seek out YOUR truth and live a life of affirmation built on a foundation of honesty. Avoid making changes just for the sake of change. Listen to what that inner voice is saying. Let it guide you to a fulfillment that will surpass any prolific comforts. Be cognizant of the present moment and accepting of your true reality. Remember that to find your “truth” it takes growth and real growth takes time. Don’t rush it. There’s a beauty in the stillness and the silence. Open yourself up to its possibility. You may wake-up one day, look in the mirror and say “oh…hello…it’s so nice to finally meet you!”

Licia McCurdy has been a Licensed Practical Nurse for the last twelve years. With a Bachelor’s of Science in General Studies from The University of Central Oklahoma Licia’s professional experience consists of Orthopedic Surgery and Cardiology and is currently working as a Clinical Nurse for Access Medical, an urgent care company. Licia is married with two and loves the mountains, cool weather, spending time with friends and an occasional tall vanilla chai tea latte.

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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

Lets get serious and talk about the things that bug us, bug us enough to hold on to them when we need to let them go. Lets talk about the “24 hour let it go” rule.

How many of you can get your feelings hurt or have someone “steal your moment” and make it their own or criticize you unfairly and you ruminate on it for hours, days, weeks or years? If you are saying, yes that’s me, what eventually happens will be far worse for you than the person you keep thinking about.
It is very similar to a disease process that invades your body. Without treatment you will become symptomatic. Count on it. Its like death and taxes, it will happen. This is one time that you really do have the power to avoid this deadly outcome.
Stephanie is a good example of carrying toxic thoughts and feelings for years. When I first met Stephanie she was in a day treatment program. She had initially admitted herself to the hospital for homicidal thoughts. She shared with the group that when she got married her husband would pick out her clothes for the day and lay them on the bed.
At first she thought this was very sweet of him, thinking he was taking a special interest in how she looked. As time went on she tired of his sweetness and found it annoying. But said nothing. So the progression of her feelings went from annoyed, to irritated, to angry, to I can’t stand this anymore.
At that point she found herself in the pawn shop looking at guns. She was planning to kill her husband!! Someone in the group said, “Why didn’t you tell him that you could pick out your own clothes?” Seems like a realistic question. Stephanie replied, “ I don’t like confrontation and did not want to hurt his feelings.” But killing him was an option!!
Here is how the “24 hour let it go rule” works: When someone hurts your feelings, or does anything to create significant discomfort you have 24 hours to confront them or let it go. If you become aware that you are replaying the situation in your mind all day and maybe all night, confront it.
Maybe the confrontation can be through journaling, some feelings can go away if we process them on paper or with a friend or therapist. Confronting the person face to face may not be the best or in some cases the safest. But you have 24 hours to make a decision.
Give it a try. Notice what time it is when you realize you are ruminating about someone who is stealing your energy. You have 24 hours to do something positive for you.

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 do you thing about the intergenerational program at Willow Creek Health Care?

“I think it’s a really great program. And I like to see the little kids up here. They interact really well with the residents.” Timber Scheihing, CMA

“I think it’s great. The residents here love it. They love it when the kids come up to them and hug them and call them grandma or grandpa.” Naomi McManamy, CNA

“When I was a little kid my mom made me go to nursing homes and I was afraid of old people for a long time. So I think this gets them accustomed to loving them and respecting them and not being afraid of them.” Jessica Defiore, CNA

“I think it’s a wonderful program. It brings an energy to our building that we wouldn’t have otherwise. The residents in the summer when the children are gone, even if they’re not verbal you can tell a difference.” Tracy Thornton, social services

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February is Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Month and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is continuing its efforts to increase awareness of birth defects and how to prevent them. Every 15 minutes, an infant is born with a congenital heart defect (CHD); they are the most common birth defect and are the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths.
Melissa Moore is an active member of OSDH’s Screening and Special Services Advocate Group. Her son, Greyson Moore, was born in 2011 and appeared to be a healthy baby. Four days later at a routine weight check, Greyson appeared purple from the chest down with a temperature of 91.7 degrees.
Greyson was diagnosed with a critical congenital heart defect that caused development failure to the left side of his heart; he passed away six months after the discovery of this defect.
Infants with defects like Greyson’s are at a significant risk for disability or death if their condition is not diagnosed soon after birth. Today, these defects can be identified through the newborn pulse oximetry screening, a painless test that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood.
“I don’t know if the newborn pulse oximetry screening would have changed Greyson’s outcome at all,” said Moore. “But had his defect been detected before we went home from the hospital, his body would not have started to shut down. He would have been in a better position to have the traditional surgeries, and we may have had more time with our precious boy.”
Moore is the president and executive director of Greyson’s Advocates, working to provide information and materials to families of children facing significant medical diagnoses or extended hospitals stays in an effort to allow them to focus on being advocates for their children.

All the causes of heart defects are not known, however the CDC’s National Birth Defects Prevention Study has found that women who are obese, have diabetes or smoke during pregnancy increase their chances of having a baby born with a heart defect.
Couples are encouraged to take these important steps before and during pregnancy to help prevent CHDs:
· Plan ahead – Take 400 mcg of folic acid daily
· Avoid harmful substances – Quit smoking
· Choose a healthy lifestyle – Stay at a healthy weight
· Talk to a doctor – Control diagnosed diabetes
OSDH continues to work with healthcare professionals, birthing hospitals and advocate groups around the state to raise awareness of CHD’s and newborn screening.