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OU research shows electrical stimulation delivered via the ear suppresses atrial fibrillation. (Stavros Stavrakis, M.D., Ph.D. shown above)

Have you ever experienced sudden lightheadedness, shortness of breath or heart palpitations? An irregular heart rhythm may be to blame.
It’s a condition known as atrial fibrillation, and more than 2.3 million people in this country have some form of it. Now, researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center have shown a non-invasive treatment that delivers low-level electrical stimulation through a part of the ear can suppress atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart lose their normal rhythm and beat chaotically.
“Atrial fibrillation affects a lot of people – up to 10 percent of the population. And the older people get, the more common atrial fibrillation is,” said lead researcher Stavros Stavrakis, M.D., Ph.D., with the OU College of Medicine’s Heart Rhythm Institute.
The study involved patients with a specific type of atrial fibrillation in which the errant rhythm occurs occasionally and then stops. OU researchers found that low-level electrical stimulation delivered by way of a part of the ear known as the tragus can suppress the irregular heart rhythm. The tragus is that little bump of cartilage located at the front of the outer ear. It doesn’t really do a lot, but it appears to provide a pathway to a specific nerve in the brain stem that appears to exercise some control over atrial fibrillation.
“We found that the time that people were in atrial fibrillation was decreased by about 50 percent after stimulating the tragus for one hour compared to those in the study who did not receive the low-level electrical stimulation,” said Stavrakis.
In previous laboratory studies, Stavrakis and his team showed they could effectively halt atrial fibrillation with low-level electrical signaling applied directly to the nerve.
“So we were trying to find a way to non-invasively stimulate the nerve, in other words, without surgery,” he explained. “We found a study in which researchers had systematically stimulated different parts of the ear and were able to elicit a response in the brain. So we tried it first in the laboratory to see if we could stimulate the nerve through an electrical signal applied to that part of the ear called the tragus, and it worked nicely.”
The next step involved a study of 40 patients referred to the electrophysiology lab at OU Medicine. Under general anesthesia, half received low-level electrical stimulation of the right ear through a small metal clip attached to the tragus. The other half had the device attached but did not receive the treatment.
The patients who received the low-level electrical stimulation saw a significant decrease in the amount of time in atrial fibrillation. In the control group, by contrast, the time in atrial fibrillation actually increased slightly.
“We also found it was more difficult to produce atrial fibrillation after treatment,” Stavrakis said.
He called the results promising and said the next step is to evaluate the treatment approach in patients with this type of atrial fibrillation while awake, since this initial study involved patients with acute atrial fibrillation who were under anesthesia.
The new study involving treatment while awake has recently received funding from the American Heart Association, and Stavrakis said they hope to begin that research soon.
“A preventive approach is the goal. So we hope to next evaluate this approach in patients who could do this at home using an electrical stimulation device similar to those used for pain management,” he said.
The approach is not only non-invasive, it also is not painful. Stavrakis said that’s because the level of electrical stimulation needed to slow the heart rate is well below the threshold that produces discomfort.
“We anticipate that the patients undergoing treatment at home would not even feel the stimulation,” he said.
The research produced another interesting discovery. Stavrakis and his team also drew blood in patients, measured markers in the blood known as inflammatory cytokines and found that low-level electrical stimulation reduced those markers, thereby potentially inhibiting inflammation within the body.
“We think that this is important because it means this technology and treatment method also may be useful in treating other diseases associated with inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis,” Stavrakis said.
The research is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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The FREEZE T-ball team shows a unique photograph from their under 6-years- old category. Back row; from left are: Liv Godwin, 5, Addalyn Wauters, 5; Tinley Roberts, 4; Avery Gregory, (catcher) 5; Pressley Atkinson, 5; Ella Melton, 5, Reese Hobgood, 5; and Olivia Ojeda, 5; On the front, are Kaiser Stout, 5, Khloe Kastner, 5; Kate Nabavi, 5; and Kalle Hays, 5.

by Vickie Jenkins


Look at this fierce team of four and five-year-old T-ball players. They couldn’t be any cuter! They are all friends and play T-ball in Edmond, Oklahoma. Oh, they are typical little girls that love being together; dancing, playing with dolls, tea parties and especially watching the movie ‘Frozen’ as they wear their princess dresses, being ‘Elsa,’ the lead character in the Disney animated movie.
“It all started when three of the girls took dance and gymnastics together and we thought the girls should try T-ball in the spring. The mom that took the end of the season photo that went viral came up with the name Freeze and thought our little girls would be more interested in trying a new sport if they had a Frozen inspired uniform because all 5-year-olds love Elsa and Anna. I think the photo went viral because the girls looked adorable and it portrayed a message that girls can look cute and yet be strong and independent at the same time,” said Alissa Melton OD,FAAO. (mother of Ella)
The girls were told to put their mean faces on for the picture. A combination of trying to look mean plus wearing their princess dress equals one cute picture of their team, the Freeze. Gregory posted the Frozen themed team photo on Facebook, both on her own profile and other pages like Sports Illustrated Kids, where it received over 8,000 views the first day. Gregory said she and the other team parents are humbled and grateful for the overwhelming response to the picture, which they see as Girl Power.
Although the girls are young, too young to understand what’s happening on the field, Gregory hopes that the photo’s message will resonate with female athletes of any age. “I think a lot of young women see the pictures as empowering, empowering from the sense that you can be cute, sparkly and tough, and that’s okay. Beauty comes from the inside and that’s what we want to teach these girls. That you can do things and be pretty, but what is inside is what matters most,” Gregory adds.
The parents of these cute little girls were surprised when actress Lynda Carter, (Wonder Woman) shared the team photo on her Twitter and Facebook page. Gregory hopes that her photo will show young girls that it is okay to try anything and they don’t have to choose between being a princess or getting dirty. They are not tomboys but they are girls that are willing to try something, and not be afraid to step up to a sport.
Gregory states, “We approached it as a way to combine ‘princesses and red dirt’ because that’s what we have here in Oklahoma. At the time of the photoshoot, the temperature was in the 90’s and it was very humid. The girls were getting hot and thirsty but they did well. The girls even have the hats with the fake Elsa hair down the side but they weren’t allowed to wear them in the games. I guess that would be a little distracting.”
All in all, the picture of the team, the Freeze is darling. What a great opportunity to show others that there is nothing wrong with girls playing sports, even if it they get dirty every now and then. What a great memory this will be for the little girls as they get older, seeing what it was like to be in the spotlight for a bit. Starting T-ball at four-years old? What could be better? Perhaps, a nap after the games and each photo shoot.

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Calm Waters Center for Children and Families offers free support groups for children, ages 3 – 18, and their families whose lives have been affected by death or divorce.
Oklahoma continues to rank amongst the top states in the nation for unintentional and premature deaths, leaving single parents raising children. Additionally, Oklahoma continues to have one of the highest divorce rates per capita in the nation. These tragedies leave children feeling isolated, sad, and uncertain.
In Calm Waters Support Groups, children will learn tools to help them through their grief process such as, self-care and support, coping with feelings, communication, and an opportunity to connect with peers who have similar experiences.
· Calm Waters Divorce Support Groups are offered on Tuesdays or Thursdays, and meet weekly for eight weeks from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The first Divorce Support Group will begin the week of August 24th.
· Calm Waters Grief Support Groups are offered on Mondays, and meet weekly for 16 weeks from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The first Grief Support Group will begin August 24th.
To enroll, complete a registration form which is available at For more information contact Calm Waters at 405.841.4800 or Timely enrollment is encouraged due to limited space.
At Calm Waters our mission is to help children and their families in their grief journey caused by death, divorce or other significant loss. Calm Waters is a United Way of Central Oklahoma partner agency.

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Celebrating their 45th anniversary of acceptance into Baptist Memorial Hospital School of Nursing are longtime friends a.k.a. The Dirty Dozen. Standing in front of a picture of James L. Henry (President of the hospital when the nurses started in 1968) L-R Lenora Beckwith, Connie Furrh, Lou Berry, Melanie Hemry, Beverly Botchlet, Linda Jackson, Janet Jamison, Laura Denwood. Not pictured- Norma Williams, Carol Neal and Terry Thurston. Evannah Esadoah (deceased).

by Vickie Jenkins

I had the privilege of interviewing some wonderful ladies that were celebrating their 45th anniversary of receiving their caps. What an exciting time for these 8 women that reunited at Integris Baptist Medical Center. It was the summer of 1968 when these women were accepted into Baptist Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. They all lived in the dorm on the hospital campus except the ones that were married.
At the time, it was a diploma nursing program and their class was small because Baptist was phasing out the school which was then morphed into the nursing program at Central State College (now, University of Central Oklahoma). In the summer of 1969, the 12 nurses were sent to St. Louis, Missouri State Mental Hospital for their psychiatric training. They graduated on June 5, 1970.
Interviewing the women that gathered for the reunion was a pure delight. The conference room at Baptist Hospital was full of hugs, smiles and laughter as each woman shared memories. “It was Dr. John Donnell, a cardiologist that gave us 12 nurses the nickname of The Dirty Dozen,” one woman said. Since then, The Dirty Dozen have held major reunions every five years, getting together whenever possible. In addition to reunions, they also stay in contact by Facebook, email and texts. A few send cards and letters.
After some fun and fellowship, here are some interesting answers from outstanding women telling us what their life is like now.
Melanie Arnold Hemry, RN-“Why did you become a nurse?” “I felt it was a wonderful career and a great way to serve others. It ended up giving me great features for my writing.” Hemry is now a freelance writer and has written for Guideposts and other magazines. She has written more than 50 books.
Laura Bliss Denwood, RN- Describing herself in three words, she says, “Friendly, empathetic and optimistic.” Denwood traveled from St. Croix, Virgin Islands, where she still lives. She is happy to see all of her friends again plus enjoyed taking a tour of Baptist Medical Center.
Janet Pomplun Jamison, RN, Clinical Research Nurse- “What is your favorite memory from the past while working at Baptist Hospital?” “There was a supportive nursing staff and several mentors. The progressive acute care experiences were great.” Jamison worked in Cancer Research at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC before working at the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. She resides in. Delaware.
Beverly Botchhlet, RN, MS-“What was your favorite thing about the reunion today?” “Being a member of a group who are totally nonjudgmental and have only love and support for each other.” Bachlet became a nurse in 1970 and is still going strong. Bachlet earned her Master’s Degree and continues to teach nursing.
Connie Blackburn Furrh, RN-“What is your life like now?” “I work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and work full-time at Oklahoma Spine Hospital.” “Do you stay in contact with the other nurses?” “Absolutely. I consider them my sisters. Time melts away when we come back together again.” Blackburn also helped build the Renaissance Women’s Centers.
Lou Berry, RN-“Describe yourself in three words.” ‘Full of energy!” Berry said her favorite memory of the past is working in the Surgery Center. She spent years teaching nursing.
Lenora Schoenhals Bechwith, RN-“What is your life like now?” “I’m a retired Hospice nurse, mother of two and grandmother of two. I go to Hospice Circle of Love, Enid, OK when needed. Bechwith says she was four years old when she received a nurse kit from her cousin one Christmas morning.
Linda Gossman Hazard, RN- “What is your life like now?” “I am retired and life is good!” Jackson worked at OU Health Science Center in NICU.
Unable to attend the 45 year reunion were Terry Thurston, Norma Aycock Williams, RN, Carol Neal, RN. Evannah Esadoah, RN (deceased)
After catching up on just a glimpse of the past years, the women planned on taking a tour of Integris Baptist Medical Center. A big thank-you to these fine women that have given their time and dedication to helping others provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support.
Perhaps, one of the women at the reunion summed up the countless hours of nursing the best. “When did you become a nurse?” I asked. she answered, “1970”. “When did your nursing end?” I asked. “Never!” she replied. I am sure The Dirty Dozen will meet again.

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Dr. Womack (left) has been practicing with Deaconess Family Care for 10 years and is currently located at Deaconess Family Care.

The Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP) has named Charles Womack, MD, the 2015 Family Physician of the Year at its Annual Scientific Assembly. The award honors one outstanding Oklahoma family physician who provides patients with compassionate, comprehensive care, and serves as a role model in their community, to other health professionals, and to residents and medical students.
“I am deeply honored and humbled by this award. I focus on doing what every family physician does, care for my patients,” Dr. Charles Womack said. “I feel it’s not only important have a positive impact in my practice, but also in the community in which I live and practice.”
Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Dr. Womack has been a practicing family physician for nearly 40 years. He served as a physician in the U.S. Army for two years before starting his private practice in Oklahoma City in 1976.
Dr. Womack has been practicing with Deaconess Family Care for 10 years and is currently located at Deaconess Family Care – North Portland in Oklahoma City. Dr. Womack is an outstanding physician and leader within Deaconess Hospital and we are proud that the OAFP has honored him with this award. Dr. Womack serves as the Chairman of the Board at Deaconess Hospital and provides leadership that his peers describe as “quiet confidence that speaks to his years of serving people in healthcare.” Dr. Womack has served in many positions within the OAFP, including President in 1988-89.
As the 2015 Oklahoma Family Physician of the Year, Dr. Womack becomes a candidate for the 2016 American Academy of Family Physicians Family Physician of the Year.
Deaconess Hospital, located in northwest Oklahoma City, is a 238-bed facility. With almost 500 providers on the medical staff, Deaconess is a full service, acute-care, medical/surgical hospital with a wide range of services including, cardiology, orthopedics, oncology, pulmonology, urology, general surgery, obstetrics and inpatient rehabilitation. Deaconess also operates 21 clinic locations with 45 providers across the Oklahoma City metro area. We work hard every day to be a place of healing, caring and connection for patients and families in the community we call home. Deaconess Hospital is directly or indirectly owned by a partnership that proudly includes physician owners, including certain members of the hospital’s medical staff.

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Charla Thomas loves her job working with the children at the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany, OK. Her bright smile and cheery disposition is proof.

by Vickie Jenkins – Writer/Photographer

“I’m living my dream,” said Charla Thomas, RN at Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany, OK. Charla works with the children in rehab. It is her bright smile and her genuine happiness that seems to shine through as she talks about the children. “Ever since I was a little girl, I had the dream of being a nurse when I grew up. All of my baby dolls were my patients as I took care of them with my TLC and my doctors’ kit,” she laughed. “I knew I wanted to work in Pediatrics or work with children. It’s as though I knew I would be a nurse when I grew up.”
After graduating high school, Charla’s first job was a CNA here at the Children’s Center. She went to Redlands College in El Reno, OK and became an LPN and then a RN and has been a nurse for 8 years. “Children make everything better, and to me, children are the true meaning of life.” “Did anyone influence you to become a nurse?” I ask. “No, I am the only one in my family that has gone into the medical field. It was always my dream so you see, I really am living my dream,” she replied.
If Charla gave advice to someone going into the medical field, she would say, Follow your heart. Wise advice coming from someone living their dream. Asking Charla what qualities make a good nurse, she told me that they would need to be well rounded in all aspects, not just one specific thing. When asking Charla what her greatest and strongest asset is, she answered, “My biggest asset is being caring. I try to treat everyone in the same way that I would want to be treated. I always think of my two little girls and I would want others to treat them that way.”
“Do you have any hobbies?” I ask. “My husband and I do scuba-diving and I just love it,” she answers. “It was kind of funny how I started scuba-diving,” she says. “It was actually a wedding gift from my in-laws when my husband and I got married. I had never been scuba-diving and after I tried it, I realized how much I enjoyed it. We’ve been married for six years now. I also like to spend time with my family. My husband and I have two daughters, one and three years old. I spend as much time as I can with them.”
A typical day for Thomas consists of checking the schedules when she arrives. Rehab gets everything ready for the children and their therapy. When the children arrive, she works with them according to their needs. “Each child is different and each child needs a specific form of therapy. The most rewarding part of my job is when I see a child improve from the work they have been doing all along. It gives me a good feeling,” Charla said.
Asking Charla what a perfect evening would be, she answers, “It would be dinner with my husband and daughters and then spend time watching a Disney movie on T.V.” Charla listens to KLOVE and country music. “If you were on a TV show, what show would it be?” I ask. “Oh, it would definitely be Family Feud,” she answered with a laugh. “I love that show,” she added.
“What is something most people don’t know about you?” I ask. After a pause, she replies, “I think it is the fact that I am extremely sensitive, it gets in the way sometimes. I always try to hide it but that doesn’t work too well,” she says with a laugh. If her co-workers could describe Charla in so many words, Charla thinks they would describe her as: Fun, creative and hyper.
“What are some of the challenges that you deal with working with the children?” I ask. “I have a really hard time when I get attached to a problem and I need to keep it all together,” she replies. “If you were to give others some words of wisdom to live by, what would those words be?” I ask. “Live each day like it was the last day and make it count.”

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If there were no nurses in the world then … Integris Canadian Valley Hospital – Outpatient Surgery

Then there would be no patient care advocates. Jennifer Donihoo, RN

My husband wouldn’t have anyone to take care of him. Vicki Cantrell, RN

I would be out of a job. Erin Baker, RN

Then there would be a lot of dirty hands. Stephanie Goodson, RN

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Everyday we are reminded how fragile and uncertain life can be; as we lose loved ones in the blink of an eye. As we lose opportunities due to unexpected health issues. As our finances are drastically altered due to lay offs and salary cuts.


Life is very uncertain. We have a tendency to believe that tomorrow will always arrive and life will carry on as planned.
What are some of the things that you are WAITING to do? Here are a few of the things I frequently hear:
1. I have always wanted to go back to school and finish my degree, BUT
2. I have always wanted to visit Italy; Rome, Florence, Venice, BUT
3. I have always wanted to live near the beach, I love the water, it is so peaceful and relaxing, BUT
4. I will start eating healthy and lose these 40 pounds RIGHT AFTER
5. I need to call friends that I have not talked to in months, BUT
6. I need to lower my stress because I know its going to kill me, BUT
7. I need to work less and enjoy more time with my family, BUT
8. I am going to plan a 3 day getaway, RIGHT AFTER
Now the reason for these BUT’S and RIGHT AFTER’S are as follows:
1. When the kids are grown
2. When I have more money saved (how much?)
3. I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem realistic.
4. Once I get some new shoes. (to walk…what about healthy eating? no shoes needed)
5. I am just so busy, no time to call people.
6. I have to work all these hours to pay for everything (what is everything?)
7. It just seems to take so much money to pay for everything (again, what is everything?)
8. Once all my projects are completed (projects are never all completed)
How much time do you have to live a healthier life and do the things that bring quality to your life?

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Emily Ardoin, winner of 2015 OKALA Caregiver of the Year award.

Emily ArdoinThe Oklahoma Assisted Living Association recognized Emily Ardoin as the winner of 2015 OKALA Caregiver of the Year award. Ardoin serves as an Advanced Certified Medical Aide at Jefferson’s Garden.
“Emily is truly a team player. She’s willing to fill in wherever we need her,” said Donna Kilgore, Residence Director at Jefferson’s Garden.
The award indicates Ardoin has shown excellence in the care of Oklahoma seniors since August 2010. It also proves the exceptional performance of her duties within Jefferson’s Garden Assisted Living.
Emily is respected and admired by her fellow associates and she can always be counted on to help where she’s needed.
“Emily pays great attention to residents and details. I’m so glad to have her on my team,” said Adrian Carpenter, Health Care Coordinator at Jefferson’s Garden.
Everyone says Ardoin’s smile and cheerful spirit is infectious. Residents adore her and she adores them.
Jefferson’s Garden is a Legend Senior Living residence. Legend Senior Living is a privately owned company founded in 2001 by Timothy Buchanan and is dedicated to providing quality services and housing to senior adults. Legend Senior Living owns and operates Senior Living Residences in Kan., Fla., Colo., Okla. and Texas.

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INTEGRIS announces offering an Integrative Medicine Clinic every Tuesday at the Wellness Center at ICIO. Integrative Medicine is an intelligent combination of conventional and complementary therapies. It is healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the whole person (body, mind, spirit) including all aspects of lifestyle. It combines conventional Western medicine with alternative or complementary treatments, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, biofeedback, yoga, nutrition, and stress reduction techniques—all in the effort to treat the whole person.
INTEGRIS also introduces Integrative Medicine practitioner, Juli Johnson, APRN. She is an advanced practice nurse in adult acute care focusing on oncology/hematology/integrative medicine. She received her Master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2008. She is nationally certified through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation and has practiced at INTEGRIS since 2000. She currently practices as a midlevel provider in the medical oncology/hematology clinic at the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute. She graduated from the Fellowship in Integrated Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 2014. This is the Integrative Medicine Fellowship that was launched in 1997 by IM pioneer, Andrew Weil, M.D. This fellowship is a 1000 hour, two year program for physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. For more information go to: