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Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists Tim Griffin, Ph.D. and Yao Fu, Ph.D.

Research from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has identified new culprits that may be responsible for the development of arthritis.
The study found that growing older increases the production of a pair of inflammation-producing proteins. It suggests that targeting these inflammatory proteins might provide a path for future development of arthritis therapies.
The new findings, published in the Journal of Gerontology, provide a snapshot of age-related changes in a crucial area of soft tissue in the knee.
A team led by OMRF’s Tim Griffin, Ph.D., and Yao Fu, Ph.D., examined the knee joints of rats as they aged. In particular, the researchers studied the animals’ infrapatellar fat pad, the soft fatty tissue that lies beneath the kneecaps of both rodents and humans.
Scientists have known that these fat pads are a source of inflammation in osteoarthritic knees. And they’ve believed that this inflammation contributes to osteoarthritis, which occurs when cartilage breaks down and wears away.
“It’s actually the most common form of arthritis, often affecting the hips, hands and spine, in addition to the knees,” said Griffin. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis.
Griffin and Fu wanted to look specifically at how aging affects inflammation in the fat pads. Griffin says he anticipated that as the animals grew older, the amount of inflammation produced by the fat pad and the size of the animals’ fat pads would increase.
“But our findings were not quite what we expected,” said Griffin. Specifically, the fat pads actually shrunk while producing higher levels of two inflammatory proteins.
“Our study suggests the fat pad is a contributor to a general increase in knee inflammation that occurs with age,” said Fu. This points toward future treatments to limit the inflammation, which might then prevent osteoarthritis from developing.
However, the researchers did find a benefit to aging in biological conditions that simulated an acute injury—such as a fall that causes damage to a joint. In this condition, the older fat pads decreased their production of leptin, a protein secreted by fat that also contributes to the break down of cartilage.
“We know there is acute inflammation that occurs after injury and can have long-term consequences,” said Griffin. “This study taught us that under certain conditions aging can actually limit the amount of leptin produced by the knee fat pad. This might help us develop new strategies to reduce post-traumatic osteoarthritis, a common cause of the disease in younger active adults.”
Janet Huebner, Ph.D., and Virginia Kraus, Ph.D., of Duke University also contributed to the research, which was supported by grants from the National Center for Research Resources (number RR018758), the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (number GM103441), the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (number AR066828), and the Arthritis Foundation.

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St. Anthony’s annual Celebrity Chef series turns the spotlight on Oklahoma, featuring local Celebrity Chef Kurt Fleischfresser. Chef Kurt is well known in the Oklahoma restaurant scene, as he’s been involved in ownership and overseeing 25 restaurants right here in Oklahoma City. To name a few, Chef is currently Executive Chef/Partner of Western Concepts Restaurants, The Coach House, Sushi Neko, Musashi’s, Will Rogers Theater, and The Lobby Bar. He is also the Director of Operations at another popular Oklahoma City Restaurant, Vast.
Wednesday, January 13, Chef Kurt will demonstrate his love for food and the state of Oklahoma by blending the two together. Featuring some of his favorite recipes with some delicious local produce, Chef Kurt will be serving up a delightful menu with some great local shopping tips.
Chef will take the stage Wednesday, January 13, at the Rapp Foundation Conference Center in the Saints Medical Plaza building for a keynote dinner and demo at 7 p.m. Ticket sales start Tuesday, Dec. 8. Tickets are $20 each, to purchase just go to

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Time is flying by and The Salvation Army Angel Tree deadline is just seven days away! As of today, The Salvation Army in Oklahoma City has approximately 800 Angels who have not been adopted off of the Angel Trees. There are almost 3,000 Angels who have not been returned with their gifts.
Anyone can adopt The Salvation Army’s Angels by visiting the Angel Trees located at Quail Springs Mall and Penn Square Mall. Once the Angel is selected, the fun begins! To help you shop, there is information for your Angel included on the tag such as clothing sizes and gift suggestions. After the gifts are purchased, the Angel is returned to the mall.
“Every Angel tag represents someone in our community who is in need,” said Major Charlotte Gargis, Associate Area Commander of The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma. “The Angel Tree is an amazing opportunity for us all to share the blessings we have received with others who are lacking this Christmas.”
Please help The Salvation Army make sure that no child is forgotten this Christmas by adopting and returning your Angel today at Penn Square or Quail Springs Malls. The deadline to return the Angels is December 10th. For more information, contact Major Charlotte Gargis at 405-246-1113.

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Carey S. Hill, M.D., has established her surgical practice with OU Physicians.
Hill is board certified in surgery and surgical critical care. She will provide general and trauma surgical services at the OU Medicine Trauma One Center.
Hill completed her general surgery residency and a critical care fellowship at Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland. She earned her medical degree at Albany Medical College, Albany, New York.
Hill is a member of the American College of Surgeons, Society of Critical Care Medicine and Reserve Officers Association, having served as a surgeon in the military.

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Erika Ward, RN, case manager, Innova Home Health in Oklahoma City, likes to provide holiday cheer to her patients she sees on a regular basis.

by Mike Lee
Staff Writer

The comfort level of people being at home helps patients recover better says Erika Ward, RN, case manager, Innova Home Health in Oklahoma City.
“They’re not as stressed out as they are in hospitals,” she said. “Their families seem to be more comfortable because they can be there and more involved with what’s going on with their family member.”
Ward earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing two years ago at the University of Oklahoma where she was in the accelerated BSN program. Being a registered nurse is a great career because of the numerous opportunities nursing affords, she said.
“I happened to have chosen home health, but there is a litany of other things that you can become,” she said. “You can specialize in wound care. There’s a variety of certifications that you can pursue.”
She had been an industrial hygienist before making the transition in her career. She also holds a masters degree in public health.
“I always had an appreciation for nursing, especially after my son’s illness, Ward said. “It was a nurse practitioner that finally diagnosed him properly and got him the help that he needed. It made me appreciate nurses a lot.”
She discovered Innova from a friend who works there. She came on board and worked part time for a while. She found that she liked working in the friendly environment with people she likes. There’s not a lot of micro-management, Ward said.
“You do your job. Patient care is first and they allow us to take care of our patients without a whole lot of unnecessary things going on,” Ward explained. “So being here, I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”
The nursing staff at Innova is patient oriented and understand the importance of the continuity of care, she said. They are conscientious caregivers. Ward loves that Innova has in-house therapists and does not have to outsource. The therapists join the nursing staff in case conferences. So it’s good to have people representing all disciplines of home health to discuss patient care together, Ward said.
She chose home health because during her rotations, she found hospital work to be too rushed, Ward said. She will see an average of four to five patients a day.
“With home health, people are sick; they’re at their worst and are most vulnerable,” she continued. “With home health, they are at home and are more comfortable. With that environment, you have an opportunity to establish a relationship with patients.”
“They’ll come in and we’ll visit. They’ll ask me about my son and I’ll talk to them about their grand kids or whatever they have going on. You develop a friendship with them in the process of caring for them.”
People considering a career in home health need to be flexible, organized and a compassionate type of “people person,” she said. Some of her patients are very appreciative of having someone like Ward visit them during the holidays.
“Some of them are lonely, so it helps,” Ward said.
She gets to meet their dogs and cats. Some of the cats have also taken an affinity for her. They will jump in her lap. There is also a dog that always tries to investigate her bag, no matter where is.
Patients learn from her expertise in many fields. She teaches them about disease management and wound care, among other items.
Ward said that her former career as an industrial hygienist lends itself to nursing. She worked with the State Department of Labor in the OSHA department. She would venture to different businesses to make sure they were compliant with federal regulations that protect workers in the work place.
“So I did a lot of teaching not only with employees but with upper management to make sure things were being done the way they are supposed to,” Ward explained. “The skills that I honed there as far as interacting with people — as far as teaching — comes into play with what I do now because I do a lot of teaching.”
Being an effective nurse also means taking care of one’s own holistic health. Ward describes herself as a basketball mom when away from work.
“My son plays basketball. I enjoy going to the games, going to the practices,” she said. “I video games and edit them for my son. So that’s kind of my big release.”

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Q. I do not have family to celebrate holidays and this used to depress me but now I realize family of choice is a joyful gift. Why did it take me so long to realize this?

A. Family is not always about blood. It’s about who is willing to hold your hand when you need it the most.
This Thanksgiving my daughter and I spent the holiday with six people that I did not know. She knew four of them. They invited us into their home, shared their amazing food and loved us as if they had known us forever. I sat at the table holding hands with these strangers while my daughter said the Lord’s Prayer in french. The man who owned the house, Dain, asked us what we were grateful for in 2015.
The responses ranged from good health, successful jobs, new friends, back to good health. I was grateful for my daughter who inspires me. I was also grateful for this blessed moment in time when I was sharing Thanksgiving with these wonderful people who two hours before were complete strangers.
When family of origin is not available for whatever the reason, do not feel despair, make a new family. It is pretty cool when we can create a family of choice. Some of us have not really known a blood family that was there to hold our hand when we needed it the most. The longing for this family can create despair if we believe they are the only people who can give this to us.
I attended a workshop and the speaker was talking about holidays and depression. Some people experience depression because they don’t have a family and others experience depression because they do. He advised people who were flying home for the holidays to buy two sets of tickets. One for the planned 7 day visit and one for the emergency departure when the family drama becomes too much.
There comes a time in your life when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy.
So this Thanksgiving I was blessed to learn from Kathy how to do restorative yoga, Cameron’s wit was contagious, Paige was a delightful story teller, Mary and David were a married couple who made my heart happy to feel their love and Dain…….what can I say…..except thank you for sharing your warmth, humor and putting up with me calling you Dean.

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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– Leading Nursing Journal Explores Effects of Marijuana during Pregnancy and Best Practices for Care –

With the recent legalization of both medical and now recreational cannabis in states such as Colorado and Washington, marijuana consumption is seen by many as more socially acceptable and its use during pregnancy is steadily increasing. Approximately 10% of women in the United States use marijuana while pregnant. Exposure to cannabis during pregnancy can pose health risks to both women and newborns, such as anxiety or heart problems in women. It can also be associated with complications with childbirth.
In the October/November 2015 issue of Nursing for Women’s Health, the clinical practice journal of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Cheryl K. Roth, Lori A. Satran, and Shauna M. Smith published “Marijuana Use in Pregnancy,” which examines the prevalence of cannabis use among women who are pregnant. The authors also provide best practices for nurses and other clinicians providing care to pregnant women who use cannabis.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 4.4% of more than 67,000 people surveyed reported using illicit drugs while pregnant, with marijuana being the most commonly used substance. Additionally, studies show that up to 50% of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, which means many women may use marijuana without even knowing they are pregnant.
Consuming marijuana in large doses can result in acute marijuana intoxication, with symptoms including rapid heart rate, anxiety, paranoia, and even hallucinations. Marijuana can enter the bloodstream within seconds, the brain within minutes, and cross the placenta to reach the fetus. Repeated marijuana use can also alter receptors in the brain during fetal development as early as two weeks after conception, leading to problems with attention, memory, and problem solving. Marijuana exposure can also affect an infant’s birth weight, decrease length of gestation, and increase risk for preterm labor.
Nurses should be prepared to care for women who are using marijuana while pregnant. Women should be screened for drug use, including marijuana, during their first prenatal visit. Not performing this routine screen, along with a lack of awareness among nurses and clinicians about the risks associated with marijuana use, can lead to women not receiving the best care.
“With the increase in marijuana use by women of childbearing age, it’s important that women are informed about the potential risks of marijuana exposure during pregnancy,” wrote the authors. “Nurses must feel comfortable screening women upon admission. Asking every woman relevant and sensitive questions regarding any drug use, and doing so within a health context, lessens the stigma associated with the topic.”
“Drug use during pregnancy is a serious issue that can have harmful maternal, fetal and neonatal effects,” said AWHONN’s CEO, Lynn Erdman, MN, RN, FAAN. “If we hope to reduce the risks associated with drug use during pregnancy, nurses must be knowledgeable on how to screen pregnant women for drug use at an early stage in order to provide appropriate care.”
Nursing for Women’s Health is a bimonthly refereed clinical practice journal of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. The journal circulates to more than 25,000 nurses who care for women and newborns and is available online at
Since 1969, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has been the foremost authority promoting the health of women and newborns and strengthening the nursing profession through the delivery of superior advocacy, research, education, and other professional and clinical resources. AWHONN represents the interests of 350,000 registered nurses working in women’s health, obstetric, and neonatal nursing across the United States. Learn more about AWHONN at

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Jennifer Tucker

Jerry Steward and Jennifer Tucker have been elected to the INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center board of directors. Tucker, who resides in Yukon, is the general manager of the Marriott Courtyard Oklahoma City Northwest property and Steward was recently installed as the tenth president of Oklahoma City Community College in south Oklahoma City.
Steward received his bachelors from the University of Central Oklahoma and his doctor of jurisprudence degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He served as vice president of Oklahoma City Community College before being elected president by the board of regents.
Tucker received her bachelors in business administration and hotel/restaurant administration from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. She has served in the hospitality industry for 16 years and came to her current position from The Intercontinental Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she served as director of operations.
Both Tucker and Steward have been elected to initial three year terms as members of the INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center board of directors. Southwest Medical Center is the second largest hospital in the INTEGRIS Health system. INTEGRIS is the largest Oklahoma-owned health care system.

Jerry Steward
Jerry Steward

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Amanda Poling, LPN, Director of Nursing enjoys seeing her residents every day. “Here at Fountain Brook Assisted Living and Memory Support, it is like one big happy family,” she says.

by Vickie Jenkins – Writer/Photographer


The happiness shines through as Amanda Poling, LPN, Director of Nursing takes care of the residents at Fountain Brook Assisted Living and Memory Support. Her love and compassion is present as she carries on a conversation with each individual.
Poling has been a nurse since 2006. She was a nurse in several hospitals and doctor’s offices before coming here to Fountain Brook. She worked in geriatrics, obstetrics, the cancer unit and pediatrics. “Geriatrics was my favorite and I fell in love with taking care of the elderly,” she said. “It almost seems like it was my calling.”
When asked if she wanted to be a nurse when she was little, she replied, “My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was in the 6th grade and my grandmother had cancer too. That’s when I learned a little about the medical field and caring for others. From then on, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life and take care of others. I know that sounds a little cliche but I pursued a career in nursing and I’m so glad I did.”
Poling graduated in New York in a small town in the mountains, a back country area. With her husband in the military and moving to Oklahoma City was quite a change for her. “This is like a big city to me,” she said. “At first, moving to Oklahoma City was a big change, but it has really grown on me. If fact, when my husband gets out of the military, I think we plan on staying here,” she said with a smile. “Everyone here is so nice and friendly. I really like Oklahoma,” she added.
“What is your greatest asset?” I asked Poling. “I think it would be the fact that I really care about others. The residents are people, not patients. Each person is a human being and each one has their own story to tell. I am going to fight for whatever I have to, getting help for the residents. I want to help others any way that I can, no matter how big or how small. I want to be that person that makes a difference.”
Asking Poling if she had any mentors in school, she replied, “I guess most of my teachers were my mentors while I was going to school. I grew up doing my own thing and continued doing that through school. I was my own person and knew it was up to me and me alone to do what I needed to do. I went to school and had a full-time job and got through on my own. I’m my own person,” she says.
Poling’s opinion on what makes a good nurse? “A good nurse needs to actually care for the residents. Residents can’t always defend for themselves so we have to be an advocate for them and be their voice. A nurse needs to be compassionate and know that it’s not just a job, it’s a real concern for others from within their heart.”
“What is your biggest challenge in the medical field?” I ask. “It has to be the insurance issues,” Poling comments. “The residents need the insurance coverage and the residents can’t really afford it, yet, there is nothing we can do about it because it is all about the insurance. I always want to do more to help,” she adds.
“What inspires you to come to work every day,” I ask Poling. “Oh, it’s definitely my residents,” she says with a firm tone in her voice. “I love them all and I love seeing them every day. We are like one big happy family. I bring my 2 year old daughter here to visit and the residents love talking to her. My daughter loves all of the attention.”
When asked how Poling would describe herself, she says, “I am an honest person, extremely honest. I am compassionate and my feelings come from within. I enjoy helping others and have always been that way. I am persistent and there is nothing I won’t do if someone needs my help. I need to stay focused and sometimes, I have to tell myself that. I love my job and love the staff here at Fountain Brook. Like I said before, it is like one big happy family here.”
Poling’s hobbies include spending time with her husband and daughter. She enjoys crocheting, reading and traveling. Poling and her husband also foster Pomeranians and are a part of ‘Groovy Paws Rescue.’
“Any words to live by?” I ask Poling. “I would say, be true to yourself. Be honest and don’t change your life for anyone else.”

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If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Golden Age Home Health, Inc.

“I would travel to Rome to see the Vatican City.” Angie Jeffers, LPN

“I would go to Europe because I have always wanted to go there and I’ve never been.” Jenny Greggs, RN

“I would go to Israel and Jerusalem and see the Jordan  River.” Rhonda Wedington, LPN

‘I would go to Italy to see all of the history and the beautiful architectural designs.  I have always wanted to ride in a gondola.” Dana Brown, RN