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Sudheera Perera, RN, has found his nursing home at Community Hospital south.

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

A long time ago Sudheera Perera’s father gave him a piece of advice.
“Whatever you do, make sure you like it,” Perera said, recalling his father’s words. “It doesn’t matter if you’re sweeping the streets or washing bathrooms.”
Years later the registered nurse has added a bit to that to pass along to his children: Work with people you like.
He calls himself blessed to have the best of both worlds at Community Hospital south.
Friends like Kristi Gates, RN, who serves as a night supervisor, have helped him in his nursing career.
Perera says Gates has mentored him along the way and has always been there with whatever he needed.
“Kristi has been there for me since the day I started,” Perera said. “She helped me finish my degree. It’s just a different world over here.”
When he comes to work he knows there are people willing to pour into him. He knows there are people at Community that will support him in his nursing career, even if means helping out financially.
He’s humbled by that.
“I do everything I need to do and if I can do anything extra – no problem,” he said. “Luckily, I fell into a place that was full of wonderful people. My managers, house supervisors – not one person I can complain about it. They’ve always helped me. I’m married and my brother is there but beside those two most of these people are involved in making me who I am today.
“I’m very, very blessed.”
Perera works night shift at Community Hospital South.
It’s been seven years now but he hasn’t always felt this comfortable.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Perera came to Oklahoma in 1996 to study business administration at Northwestern Oklahoma State.
Four long years later he came to a realization.
“I didn’t have a lick of business in me,” he laughed.
He went into wholesale for a rustic furniture store. He quickly burned out.
The plan was become a nursing assistant, then become an LPN and finish strong with his RN.
He became a tech in 2004. RN wouldn’t come until 2015.
“That was a long time,” he said.
Perera took the unusual route traveling as a nursing assistant from 2006-2010 in Montana with an agency.
He worked long-term care and rehab, holding down a 25-30 patient load each night.
“I liked it but you know you don’t see the end result,” Perera said. “Working here you get to see the patient walking out. Over there I just didn’t like the end result.”
A friend worked in radiology at Community and told him it was an amazing place to work.
He agreed.
“When you become an RN you can’t point fingers, it’s you and you only,” he said. “When you’re a tech you could always go back to the nurse. Now you don’t have that luxury.
“I have that sense of pride now. I like what I do. This hospital has been really, really good to me and I want to do the little things I can do for them.”
He tried ICU for a short period at a large metro hospital just to try to pick up some extra shifts.
It didn’t compare to what he already had.
“Two patients, out of that 12-hour shift I had two patients. Ten hours of that time I was in front of a computer trying to catch up on my charting. That scared me,” he said. “It didn’t click with me.”
Community Hospital actually has two campuses featuring a comprehensive range of medical services and high quality care.
Perera’s Community Hospital south campus is a full-service hospital serving Southwest Oklahoma City and the surrounding communities including Blanchard, Moore, Newcastle, Norman, Mustang and Tuttle.
Community Hospital’s north campus celebrated the opening of its new facility in 2016 and offers inpatient and outpatient services, including diagnostic imaging and direct access to physician offices.
The north campus in conveniently located along the Broadway Extension near Britton Rd. and provides easy access from north Oklahoma City, Edmond, Piedmont, Guthrie, Jones, Luther and Wellston.
A unique strength of the hospitals is the strategic relationship developed with The Physicians’ Group (TPG) and OSSO physicians.
This partnership between the hospitals and the medical staff allows for new resources for continual growth.
It also strengthens the ability to expand hospital services and to add new medical specialties that meet the needs of the Oklahoma City metro area and surrounding communities.
Perera feels that backing. He enjoys working largely with a post-operative population.
“I just love it,” he says. “This place is small enough the management has a handle of what’s going on. Here if I have any concerns it’s easy for me to tell somebody. The hospital takes care of its employees.”

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Small but BIG.
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big enough to care for you!
We are hiring!
· Clinical Educator – Master’s in nursing and critical care experience required
· Emergency RN’s
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· Telemetry RN’s
· Surgery RN’s
· Psych RN’s
We’re interviewing December RN graduates for our new grad nurse program!

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Models from the CMSA Christmas Charity Fashion Show along with Santa at The Tulsa Country Club on Dec. 14.

by Lindsay Morris, CMSA of Eastern OK Board Secretary

The Case Management Society of Eastern Oklahoma (CMSA) raised $4,486 for The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges during its annual charity fashion show and Christmas luncheon on Thursday, December 14 at Tulsa Country Club.
CMSA of Eastern Oklahoma, a group of local case managers, social workers, nurses and other professionals in the healthcare field, is in its seventh year of hosting the charity fashion show. Sponsors of the local chapter provided models to showcase clothing from Dillard’s during the event. Every attendee donated at least $20 for entrance and gave dollar bills to the models as they “walked the runway.” All money given at the event was donated to The Center, a non-profit community-based recreation center providing health, wellness, fitness, recreation, adaptive sport and support services to persons with physical disabilities.
“We are so grateful to be selected as the beneficiary of this year’s holiday event from CMSA of Eastern Oklahoma,” said Lori Long, Executive Director of The Center. “Being able to bring awareness about The Center’s programs and activities to those who can get it in the hands of direct service recipients is invaluable to us! And add to it they have selected us to receive monetarily as well – that’s a win-win situation for sure!”
Over the past seven years of holding the charity fashion show, CMSA of Eastern Oklahoma has raised a total of more than $19,000 for nonprofits such as Meals on Wheels, Tulsa Area United Way, Clarehouse, and Shriners Hospitals.

CMSA of Eastern Oklahoma is a local chapter of the Case Management Society of America, an international, 501(C)(6) nonprofit association for case management professionals. Our membership is comprised of case managers, care managers, nurses, social workers, rehab specialists, physicians, students, and corporations as well as suppliers that support the case management industry.

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Military Veteran Alex Hughes is the new president of the Oklahoma Nursing Student Association

by Bobby Anderson
Staff Writer

Two deployments overseas as a combat medic. A marriage, three kids and a job as a nursing assistant at Mercy Hospital Logan County.
Alex Hughes is more than ready for his next assignment which happens to be president of the Oklahoma Nursing Student Association.
Hughes will lead Oklahoma’s largest body of student nurses after his election a few weeks ago at the organization’s annual convention.
Growing up an Army brat, Hughes moved often, traversing the U.S. and the globe with stops in Germany and Okinawa, Japan along the way.
Moving every year and a half taught him the importance of family and flexibility.
It was no surprise that he would later enter the Army after graduating from a military high school in Oklahoma.
Initially, Hughes served as an engineer in the reserves. He quickly learned his body would pay the price long term in that specialty so decided to change when he moved over to active duty.
The field of healthcare specialist didn’t exactly catch on. But when the recruiter told him “combat medic” he was hooked.
“I loved it,” Hughes said. “I had a blast with it.”
Hughes started off attached with some of the same engineers he went through training with.
Basing out of Fort Carson, Colorado Hughes spent one year serving in Iraq, moving from Kirkuk to Mosul.
He returned home and married before shipping out to the Arghandab River valley in Afghanistan.
Coming down from the guard tower one day during a base security rotation he heard one of his fellow soldiers yell “Hey doc, by the way you’re a dad now.”
He hurried into the communications tent to talk to his wife, who had minutes earlier delivered their first child.
For the last couple of years Hughes has worked as a nursing assistant at Mercy’s 25-bed critical access hospital which offers both acute and skilled care (swing bed) services in Guthrie.
His focus has always been on getting his BSN at the University of Central Oklahoma. Now just one semester stands in his way.
He’s put the skills learned in the Army to good use.
“It helped a lot in the clinical side of it,” Hughes said. “I was already used to doing some of the skills and was used to doing hands-on patient care. However, the rest was complete opposite.”
As a medic it was Hughes’ role to diagnose and prescribe. Stepping back from that was tough.
“It took me a little time … to manage their care,” he said.
And working part-time now Hughes wants to devote more time to growing the student association.
“The main thing I would like to really see happen is more involvement from other schools,” he said. “We have a lot of schools that have delegates but never show up to events. I’d like to see more schools that haven’t been involved.”
Hughes encourages students from more schools to get involved and eventually run for office. Right now just four universities are represented on the board with only people from five universities running for office.
Nursing students preparing for Registered Nurse licensure or RN to BSN completion programs are invited to join ONSA. By joining ONSA you are also becoming a member of the National Student Nurse Association.
Hughes said by joining you can take advantage of leadership opportunities and product discounts that ONSA and NSNA have to offer.
Hughes now leads the Board of Directors which is the policy-making body of the Oklahoma Nursing Student Association between meetings of the House of Delegates held annually.
Each board member has responsibilities in various program areas of the association and must also function as part of the organizational board of directors, sharing equally in the fiscal and decision-making responsibilities. Each board member is expected to serve the association as a whole and to represent the needs of all members.
Hughes previously served on the board as the marketing director.
There are twelve members of the Board of Directors behind Hughes including: 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Director, Newsletter Editor, Legislative Director, Breakthrough Director, Community Projects Director, Public Relations Director, and Marketing Director.
The association will begin the year on January 20th at Tulsa Community College with a leadership summit.
A panel of nurses from various fields will be doing a question-and-answer session with attendees and a guest speaker will address the event.
In February the group will partner with the Oklahoma Nurses Association for the group’s annual Nurses Day at the Capitol.
To find out more about the Oklahoma Nursing Student Association go online to oknsa.net.

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What do you hope to get out of your nursing career? Oklahoma Nursing students

I love helping people and feel like I’m doing something to make things better. Alex Hughes

I want to be able to help people and ensure they can live the life they want to live. Timi Branum

I don’t really look to get anything out of it. I just want to put into it and help people. Charlee Tompkins

I want to be the best part of someone’s worst day. Jessica Veach

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Q. I work in health care. I am a nurse. I am disillusioned. I love being a nurse. But I am faced with so many huge challenges that take me away from nursing that I looked into the curriculum for being a hair stylist. I need suggestions on how to decide the fate of my career.
— Brittany

You included in your question that you have made the following list of all the good things about nursing:
**Bedside nursing — I love taking care of my patients. I learn so much about their disease process. I see how much they need me.
**12 hour shifts — Sometimes the 12 hours can be very demanding and tiring but it helps me have more time with my family.
**Flexibility and Opportunity — There are many different facets of nursing. Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, rehab centers, etc.
**Education — In my current position in med-surg I have the opportunity to learn about many disease processes. The patients come and go, so always something to learn.
**Benefits — The insurance appears to be good even though my co-pays have gone up.
The Negative (I Need to be a Hair Stylist) list:
**Unappreciated — I can count on one hand the number of times in the past few months that I have ever received a “good job” except from other tired co-workers. Is management blind?
**Understaffed — When I arrive (in a good mood) and find out that we do not have enough nurses and I will now have 7 or 8 very sick patients to provide quality care and keep my attitude pleasant, I again think, “what am I doing,” “how long can I keep this up?”
**MY HEALTH — I was not taking any medication when I started this job. I am now taking medication for anxiety and I have gained weight. “What is happening?”
**Finances — Are nurses really paid well for what they do? Corporations are turning hospitals into big business. i see changes all the time. We currently have a new bathing soap for our patients……..one that does not lather well. The other one did, but apparently cost more. So if hospitals are cutting costs with cheaper products, less staff……I haven’t seen more money in my paycheck.
**Secretarial Duties — I did not go into nursing to spend so much damn time in front of the computer.
So as i look at what I need to do to change careers I am sad. And frustrated. And angry. I just wanted to be a nurse and provide healing and comfort to patients. I am sad.

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

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Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Scientist Judith James, M.D., Ph.D.

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has started the first-ever lupus prevention study.
The clinical trial, known as the SMILE trial, will seek to identify individuals at high risk for developing lupus and treat them with an immune-modifying medication before they ever transition into the disease. The goal is to delay the onset of lupus, lessen its symptoms and potentially prevent it altogether.
Lupus is caused when the immune system becomes unbalanced, leading to the development of antibodies and chronic inflammation that damage the body’s organs and tissues. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. are living with lupus.
The disease also disproportionately affects healthy relatives of lupus patients.
For this reason, OMRF Vice President of Clinical Affairs Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., and a team of researchers launched a project where they looked at relatives of patients over an eight-year period to see if they could discover a way to identify those at high risk before the disease ever begins.
Once a person has a lupus diagnosis, many times the damage has already started, said James, chair of OMRF’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program. “For some time, our lab has been interested in understanding the first things that go wrong in the body that lead to lupus. That fed into our work of trying to develop a better diagnostic test, as well as work in understanding how flares happen. Now we want to find ways to identify people at high risk so we can offer help before the damage starts.”
By studying relatives of lupus patients, James discovered that 89 percent of family members stayed healthy, while 11 percent developed the disease. Of those who transitioned to lupus, all displayed autoantibodies—inflammatory proteins that the body mistakenly unleashes against its own cells and tissues.
For the trial, James and her team will test participants for these specific autoantibodies in the blood and place them on a test medication.
The trial is still actively recruiting new participants who are at risk for developing lupus. In order to qualify, an individual must have a positive ANA test and at least one other lupus symptom. Symptoms of lupus include skin rashes, joint pain, joint swelling, anemia, extreme fatigue, mouth sores or sunlight sensitivity.
“As a physician, I find this trial incredibly important because I have seen the damage and destruction that happens with lupus,” said James. “Even when patients come to the doctor and get all the best medicines we currently have, the disease still leads to deformities, shortened lifespans and things we just can’t fix. Now, we may have the ability to dial this back and prevent people from moving into full-blown lupus.”
James said the ultimate goal is to prevent the disease altogether. But even if an individual still transitions into lupus, they would have had early intervention and therapy to allow doctors to get started on treatment much earlier to mitigate damage and improve outcomes.
A native of Pond Creek, Okla., James earned her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and joined OMRF’s scientific staff in 1994. A pioneer in the field of autoimmune disease prediction, she holds the Lou C. Kerr Chair in Biomedical Research at OMRF.
To participate in the trial or receive more information, please call (405) 271-7221 or email Virginia-roberts@omrf.org.
“This is a trial of enormous importance that could prove life-changing for everyone involved,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “This work is expansive, new and holds a great deal of hope. We are extremely proud of Dr. James’ brilliant work and excited for what lies ahead.”

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A relentless pursuit of excellence in cardiac care has once again earned the Oklahoma Heart Hospital (OHH) a national ranking as one of 50 top cardiovascular hospitals by IBM’s Watson Health study, previously known as the Truven Health Analytics study.
“Although this is the fifth time OHH has been ranked one of the top heart hospitals in the nation, it’s our patients who are the real winners,” said Peggy Tipton, RN, OHH’s chief operating officer. “We set the bar extremely high – aiming to lead the nation in all areas of cardiac care. Our physicians and co-workers work together as a team to provide the best heart care.”
The 50 hospitals in the Watson Health study scored higher than their peers on clinical outcomes for heart attack and heart failure treatments, as well as coronary bypass and angioplasty surgeries. The hospitals performed better on mortality and complications, as well as 30-day mortality and readmissions. On average, their procedures cost less and patients had shorter hospitals stays.
For results, Watson Health uses the most recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data from the Medicare Provider Analysis and Review files, CMS Hospital Compare and Medicare cost reports. With the data, the company produces the only study of its kind in identifying the best health systems in the nation. Health systems do not apply for consideration, and winners do not pay to market their award.
“While there are many published rankings of hospitals, the Watson Health survey is one of the most highly regarded by the health care industry,” said Dr. Brook Scott, OHH’s chief medical officer. “Being named one of the 50 top heart hospitals, and one of only 15 community-based hospitals, is a tremendous achievement.”
Oklahoma Heart Hospital, a physician-owned hospital, partners with Mercy and operates two hospitals with a combined 143 beds in Oklahoma City and many clinics throughout Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma Heart Hospital cares for Oklahomans across the state, and we are committed to providing the best care anywhere,” said Dr. John Harvey, OHH president and chief executive officer.

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Stockings will soon be hung by the chimney with care. But will healthy gifts be tucked in there?
If you’re looking for stocking-stuffer ideas for the health or fitness junkie in your life, or you just want to jumpstart a healthy 2018, researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have a few ideas you might want to add to your shopping list:
1. Ho-ho-H2O
Water is always a good beverage choice. A high-quality, reusable water bottle makes it even more convenient to have water right at your fingertips. Stainless steel and glass options can help avoid traces of harmful chemicals that can be found in plastic bottles, and with many options in the $10-35 range, they won’t empty your wallet.
Most of us are on the go, so the convenience of having a water bottle nearby might keep you from reaching for sugary sodas or juices. Plus they reduce waste, so you’re also helping save the environment.
2. Toss in a super vitamin
Wintertime brings with it more hours of darkness and often leaves people deficient in vitamin D, so consider slipping a little bottle of sunshine in pill form into those stockings. Vitamin D is essential for strengthening bones, bolstering the immune system and lowering the risks of certain conditions from heart disease to Alzheimer’s.
3. Get in step
Top-tier activity trackers can run you north of $200 these days, but simpler options can give you the incentive to get more active without breaking the bank. Amazon sells Cellay’s Activity Tracker for under $15 and the Kimitech Fitness Tracker Watch for $30, and both have five-star ratings. Aim for around 10,000 steps per day—about five miles for most people.
“Trackers can help motivate people to take the stairs or park further away to get in more steps,” said OMRF scientist and avid runner Linda Thompson, Ph.D. “It’s kind of amazing how much it motivates you when you’re aware of your progress. It makes you want to push yourself to do more.”
4. For those holiday smiles
You can’t go wrong by putting a good toothbrush or two in everybody’s stocking. Taking proper care of your mouth not only helps maintain a bright smile and fresh breath, it has also been linked to better overall health.
Research shows good oral hygiene may lower your risk of heart disease, infections and provide even better blood sugar control for diabetics. Research at OMRF has found poor mouth maintenance can be a factor in autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
“Brush your teeth and floss regularly,” said OMRF scientist Umesh Deshmukh, Ph.D. “If nothing else, at least you’ll have a healthy mouth.”
5. A tasty tradition
Pieces of fresh fruit or handfuls of unshelled nuts are traditions that date back to St. Nicholas himself. The idea of giving fruit or nuts as gifts really took hold in the U.S. during the Great Depression when money was tight and luxuries were few, so finding an orange and other healthy fruits or nuts in a stocking was a real treat.
It’s also great for you today and a much healthier option than candy. Fruits contain a plethora of nutrients: minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants that the body needs. “Oranges, apples and bananas are ideal, because they are easily portable and are jam-packed with flavor and nutrition,” said OMRF immunologist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D. “Nuts are a good choice, too, because they’re high in healthy fat and protein. Just don’t over-indulge. They’re also high in calories, especially in large quantities.”
So this December, be a good elf. Instead of raiding the bargain bin and candy aisle at your local megastore to fill up your family’s stockings, add some of these useful—and healthy—items.
“These tips may seem simple, but they might help instill healthier habits in the long run,” said Chakravarty. “They also might help keep you or your loved ones from yielding to the temptation to overdo it on holiday treats.”

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Mind Body Essentials is a series of educational sessions offered through the INTEGRIS James L. Hall Jr. Center for Mind, Body and Spirit by local professionals with experience in providing services in mind, body therapies and/or integrative medicine practices. The sessions are designed to educate our community on how to INTEGRATE these practices into daily life.
These sessions are offered on the fourth Tuesday of the month from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Raymond A. Young Conference Center at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center. There is no charge for our Mind Body Essentials classes; however, reservations are required. Call the INTEGRIS HealthLine at 405-951-2277 or 888-951-2277 to reserve your spot today. Topics to be covered through our Mind Body Essentials for January and February include the following.
* Jan. 23, 2018 – Charging Your Inner Battery: The Value of Living a Resilient Life
In this session, Diane Rudebock, Ed.D., RN, will help us explore our inner landscape, looking at where we focus our time and energy and the importance of resilience as we navigate the ages and stages of life. This session will also introduce participants to a six-week series we will offer beginning in February called The Science of Self Care: Moving Toward a Healthy Resilient You!
* Feb. 27, 2018 – Mindfulness: Resilience in the Face of Life’s Challenges
Resilience is the ability to adapt well to change and bounce back from adversity. We know all too well “life can be like a box of chocolates. We never know what we are going to get.” The practice of mindfulness cultivates our potential to be present each moment with kind, open and non-judgmental awareness, and effectively manage stress and change. We discover we can stay steady and at ease in the face of life’s challenges and still enjoy life’s sweetness. Marnie Kennedy, a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction instructor, will share what mindfulness means for resilient living.