story and photo by James Coburn, staff writer
No matter how great or small the work of a nurse seems, their caring spirit often filters into humanity with love.
“You don’t know how you’re touching someone’s life or what impression you’re leaving,” Yolanda Berry said. “But I always feel like I’ll do the best that I can.”
Patients at the McGee Eye Surgery Center in Oklahoma City often compliment the nursing staff for working well together, said Berry, a registered nurse. A team of nice people works wonders.
“We have an atmosphere here that intertwines with a spiritual aspect that was important for me being a Christian to have that liberty and freedom to exercise,” Berry said. “So sometimes I’ll see nurses and physicians praying with the patient. That really touches me and soothes the patient.”
Berry has been with the McGee Eye Surgery Center since 2016. She is grateful that that the McGee Eye Surgery Center agreed to provide her a flexible schedule that has worked well in raising her son, who lives with high functioning autism.
She spends her days preparing patients for surgery and exiting surgery as a nurse in the post anesthesia care unit. Patients receiving general anesthesia require care until the lines are removed.
“When they go out of phase I to phase II, they’re more awake and alert,” she explained. “Their families are able to come back, and they’re able to eat and drink and get ready for home.”
Nurses see a lot of patients with eye problems caused by diabetes. Procedures often involve surgeries for cataracts, retina, plastic surgery, pediatric surgery and injuries including dog bites and other treatments. They also serve the Oklahoma City Thunder players.
Patients don’t remember going under anesthesia, Berry said. Some of them are surprised at the outcome when waking up from surgery.
“We have patients that have been totally blind from a cataract and then it’s removed. You were blind and you wake up and then you can see,” she said. “They were totally blind and now they can see everything. I’ve had them wake up and they were crying. They couldn’t see before but now they can see.” (STORY CONTINUES BELOW)
RNs AND LPNs
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Berry said her nursing career has been a good one. She will soon be inducted into the Sigma Phi Kappa International Honor Society of Nurses ceremony to be held at Southwest Oklahoma State University.
Patients have motivated her steppingstones of success. She recalled receiving a phone call a patient’s home in 2015. Her patient began crying when hearing the conversation.
“They were so excited and overwhelmed with the news I was receiving,” Berry said. “But I got a call for the March of Dimes. I became a finalist for the Nurse of the Year.”
She only wants her best to be put forth in life because her example is what patients see. Berry felt God’s calling early in life. It was during her childhood that sparked her inevitable road to becoming a nurse. Her mother would take her on rounds to help the elderly. Young Yolanda began caring for family members when they were sick.
“My first job, I was a housekeeper, but I was at the bedside helping the patients. A nurse came in and said, ‘Why don’t you take a class,’” Berry said. “So, the desire was always there, and it’s just been a continuum of that for me.”
She began her nursing career 22 years ago when she was a certified nurse aide graduating from LPN school at Francis Tuttle. Once again, a nurse encouraged her to become a registered nurse. Berry graduated from nursing school at Oklahoma City Community College in 2007. She was able to attain her RN status while working as a coordinator at OU Medical Center.
Today, she is working toward earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Southwest Oklahoma State University.
“I have respect for everybody in the nursing field. It’s been a journey, and that’s why I can appreciate it so much,” she said.
Her personal life is a reflection of good health.
“I love to walk out at the lake,” she said. “I love music. I’m in the choir at church and I teach Sunday school for the youth. I love the youth.”
Berry said her own youth brought the hardest years of her life. But she feels if she can shine the light for others with little nuggets of kindness and inspiration then her time spent has been great.
“Those are the things that I do, spending time with family and taking care of my son with high functioning autism. He’s doing great now,” she said.
For more information on McGee Eye Surgery Center, visit: https://dmei.org/