by Traci Chapman, staff writer
Even before she became a nurse, Courtney Gritz knew healthcare was where she was meant to be. She says that belief has grown ever stronger each year.
Now 36, Gritz has worked with Integris Health System all her adult life. Starting in emergency room registration at Southwest Medical Center when she was just 20 years old, Gritz said she found she loved the fast pace, the people she worked with and those she was able to help start on a journey that she hoped would bring them recovery, renewal and better health.
“We had so many different people coming through the doors, and I could see such a range of emotions as they checked in to the hospital,” she said. “It was yet another inspiration for me to be able to do more for them, to care for them.”
While her job inspired her, so too did members of her family – both directly and indirectly, she said. Her aunt was a doctor and one of Gritz’s mentors, she said, spurring admiration from the young girl with her dedication, skill and care when dealing with her patients.
“Then, when I was older, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer,” Gritz said. “He was surrounded by the most compassionate and loving nurses – from the start of treatments and surgical procedures to the hospice nurses who cared for him through the end of his life.
“I could see the difference they made in a very difficult journey, and it further fueled the fire in me to go into healthcare,” she said.
That fire was a driving force for Gritz as she worked toward an Associates of Applied Science in Nursing degree from Redlands Community College. The new RN then never looked back, she said.
“I’ve had various positions at Integris since my start in ER registration, but my current position is just amazing,” Gritz said.
That position is as endoscopy team manager at Lakeside Women’s Hospital. The first Oklahoma City healthcare facility to offer women’s services exclusively, Lakeside for many years was known for its mammogram and yearly examination services, opening in October 1997 with 14 rooms and nine doctors.
Today, Lakeside has moved far beyond its beginnings, with 48 doctors and hundreds of nurses on staff, much of that thanks to, officials said, a 2013 partnership with Integris Health Services. With the strength of Integris behind it, the north Oklahoma City hospital now offers everything from bone densitometry, breast surgery and childbirth and parenting education to hormone replacement therapy, laser/cosmetic/reconstructive surgery, massage therapy, neonatal intensive care, cardiology, oncology and endoscopy.
The facility also features a Level IV OB-GYN emergency room and staffs physicians and nurses who perform robotic surgery, hernia repair, appendectomies, gallbladder surgery and more, officials said.
The endoscopy treatment area is comprised of six pre- and post-op rooms, treating about 75 to 80 patients per month, Gritz said.
Most of the team’s treatments are colonoscopies, scheduled each Monday, Tuesday and Friday and one Saturday per month. Patients approach the procedure in many different ways, but she and her nursing team – Gritz, one full-time and two per diem nurses and a scrub tech – work to make sure a procedure that involves anesthesia and screening for cancer and other issues as positive as possible.
“Let’s face it, no one wants to have a colonoscopy – some dread the prep, some are nervous about the sedation, some are scared to have a procedure done, whether it is because they have had problems and are scared we might find something or just aren’t fans of the whole hospital environment,” Gritz said. “We take the time to walk them through what to expect from prepping before the procedure, what to expect upon arrival and, once they get there, we can explain the next steps in the process.”
Gritz, who helps process scopes, manages staff and doctors scheduling, posts charges and more administrative duties, said her daily patient care is the most important face of and her favorite part of her job – a position made even better because of the nursing team she works with, she said.
“The team I work with every day is made up of the most amazing people who truly know the definition of teamwork – we have each other’s backs, which makes for a very successful department,” Gritz said. “It’s so great taking care of patients and easing their fears, and it’s wonderful when they wake up (from the procedure) and tell us they can’t believe that it is over, that it was far easier than they expected and the prep was truly the worst part.”
Gritz lives in Mustang with her husband of 15 years, John, and two small daughters.