by James Coburn – staff writer
Annie Wildes feels privileged to help people facing acute emergencies in life.
A soft opening is set for the new Valir PACE Choctaw Alternative Care Setting on Thursday, September 1, at the new center located at 2411 Main Street. Participants are welcome.
“If they need any nursing care that day, I can triage it immediately to their providers,” said Wildes, RN, alternative care setting center manager at Choctaw Alternative Care Setting, an extension of Valir PACE. “We can arrange transportation and get them downtown to their clinics. We’ll also have a physical restorative aide here that works with participants with any kind of physical needs they have — exercising, stretching, and activities of daily living.” (story continues below)
The official grand opening is planned for September 30. A food truck with refreshments will be provided. The tentative time is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Valir Pace reaches participants across all levels of care and across all environments. It targets the lower socioeconomic patient, age 55 and older. Most of the patients have been without health care or health insurance for years, and so they arrive with multiple co-morbidities.
“This is an opportunity for us to reach out to them and say we have a brand-new facility here. Come check it out. It’s a place you can come during the day,” Wildes said.
The program provides social work and an adult day center for socialization and activities. PACE provides their medicine with the involvement of a primary care provider, mental health specialist, social worker, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and two warm meals a day.
A resident of Choctaw, Wildes was recently recruited by Valir PACE to lead the center’s program. She loves that the center is bringing much needed services close to home for residents in the Choctaw area. So far, 19 Valir PACE participants will be redirected to the Choctaw location. The City of Choctaw has 12,390 residents, based on the latest US Census estimates. The Valir PACE organization has more than 300 participants in Oklahoma City, Wildes said.
Valir PACE discovered this summer that several participants lacked air conditioning. They were extremely hot during record breaking heat and had issues. So, they were invited to come to the day center five days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to have a place that was safe and cool for them.
“This place is a benefit for the Choctaw area because I know our senior population is growing every day,” Wildes said. “Our goal is to keep them safe and in their home for as long as possible.”
Each morning, the care team will discuss the special needs of participants needing to be addressed. There is a continuity of care that Wildes has not seen in her previous experiences before coming to PACE, she said.
Wildes became a nurse out of her love of anatomy and physiology that grew at a tender age. Her nature is to help people, especially those who are less fortunate. She considers her career as a calling.
“In my role here, I’m put here to help those who are most in need,” she continued.
Valir PACE works with Medicare and Medicaid to serve underprivileged Oklahomans during a vulnerable period of their life. Many of them depend on food stamps. They don’t have many possessions or perhaps family members.
“Sometimes we are the only people they are seeing,” she said. “For me as a nurse — that is where my calling is. We have participants that come to the center — sometimes they come in the same clothes that we put them in when we gave them showers the day before or two days before if they’re not coming. And so, I’m able to give them that comfort and that care.”
Nursing for Wildes is more than government regulations.
“For me, it’s going in there and seeing the humanity in them, and also treating them with the dignity and respect that they need.”
Her nursing career has involved seeing patients in hospital beds or at home. Originally from Dallas, Wildes moved to Oklahoma City when her husband was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City. Six years ago, the couple built a house on six acres in Choctaw. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. And she earned a Master’s of Higher Education degree at Texas A&M University.
Her career has introduced her to families who have had hard lives. Some have been homeless on the streets due to drugs. They’ve made difficult decisions while their bodies failed them.
“I’m that person who is able to be there for them and say, ‘That was what happened yesterday. This is today, and you’re in need. You need a warm meal. You need a shower. You need health care.’ They need basic things to make them feel loved and respected, and that there’s still purpose and meaning for them.”
For more information about Valir PACE VISIT: http://www.valirpace.org/