Cheyenne Gutierrez, RN, and manager of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at OU Health University of Oklahoma Medical Center, located in Oklahoma City, is grateful to be part of a thriving healthcare team saving lives.

Cheyenne Gutierrez, RN

Manager of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at OU Health University of Oklahoma Medical Center.

story and photo by James Coburn, Staff Writer

The Comprehensive Stroke Center at OU Health University of Oklahoma Medical Center has a strict time frame when responding to stroke patients, said Cheyenne Gutierrez, RN.
“Everything is very rapidly moving. As soon as that patient hits the door, we have our team waiting for them,” said Gutierrez, manager of comprehensive and telestroke programs.
Emergency services usually alert the University of OU Medical Center within 10 minutes of arrival time. Every lifesaving professional at the hospital is mobilized and ready to go with rapid imaging and medication.
One treatment involves a clot-busting medicine. The intravenous medication breaks up clots in the body with the hope of dissolving the brain clot causing neurological damage.
Providing a rapid response to stroke is part of OU Health’s community outreach of saving lives.
“We can only administer that medication within four and a half hours from the time of symptom onset,” Gutierrez said.
Additionally, endovascular treatment for stroke involves removing a clot from the patient’s brain to restore profusion.
Ischemic strokes comprise the majority of general strokes at a rate of 87 percent. The other 13 percent are hemorrhagic strokes caused by the rupture of a vessel or an aneurysm. The size of a clot and where it lands dictates the severity of a stroke.
“It’s very sporadic and there’s nothing that’s predictable about stroke,” Gutierrez explained.
Strokes occur with a sudden onset of symptoms without pre-notification. Suddenly, a person may not be able to speak, move their arm or leg. Vertigo may induce balance issues with an inability to walk. Facial movements may falter.
During her year with OU Health Gutierrez has discovered the nursing staff’s ability to provide care for patients in areas where other facilities have challenges, she said.
“We have neuro/surgical manpower here that is not readily available to everyone else throughout the state,” she said. “And we have such a strong team that is dedicated to taking care of these patients.”
Gutierrez commended the collaborative effort of nurse navigators, neurosurgical and neurology teams who know what is best for the patients.
Gutierrez became a registered nurse in 2014 after graduating from OSU/OKC. Afterwards, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
Gutierrez had an innate calling to become a nurse since caring for her younger siblings.
“I knew I wanted to be in a profession where I could make a difference,” she continued.
Her career began by working in an oncology unit before working in a large intensive care unit in Oklahoma City.
“That is where I discovered a passion for neuro and stroke patients. Since 2018 I’ve been working primarily with stroke patients,” Gutierrez said. “Since the beginning, I have had an opportunity to see the recovery process for patients.”
The window of opportunity afforded her the time to observe and learn about the advanced procedures available for stroke.
“When hearing about the recovery of the patient and knowing that they walked into their follow-up appointment I said, ‘Wow, we made a difference for that patient.’ And I’ve been hooked since then,” Gutierrez said.
She has seen very sick patients in critical care improve or decline further in their health. Her experience in providing support during critical times has helped her navigate conversations with families.
“I felt that it was very rewarding to be able to provide that support when something detrimental is happening and people are needing it,” she said.
Patients and families welcome direct, open, and honest information spoken in a way they can understand. And, she tries to provide the same compassion and empathic care she would need if a member of her family became hospitalized. Nurses support one another, too.
“I think if you’ve been nursing long enough and you’ve been in any organization with a team of nurses — you guys just kind of bond,” Gutierrez added. “It’s just kind of a natural thing that happens, even if you are not working with that person every day, the people we work with in the ER for example, I may not see them every day, but we have bonded over different.”
Today, Gutierrez feels enriched in life for having a career balanced with her personal life. She has a 2-year-old daughter at home providing a lot of play time. Gutierrez also loves to read books, especially one that provides an escape when she has had a harder day.
“When it comes to my role here, I want to express my gratitude for how proud I am of the team we have developed and the work we are doing. I feel that OU is changing the comprehensive stroke care that Oklahomans get. And I’m really excited to be involved in that opportunity.”

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