CAREERS IN NURSING
ALWAYS A NURSE – RN ASPIRED SINCE CHILDHOOD TO BECOME NURSE
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Cynthia Flatt’s nursing career allows her to see how her home health patients’ lifestyles interact with the care they receive, she said from her office at Innova Home Health, located in Oklahoma City.
Innova Home Health is a nationally accredited Medicare certified and state licensed home health care agency. Home health allows her the time she needs to get to know everyone on a personal level of care.
“You’re not in and out like in a hospital,” said Flatt, a nursing school graduate of Rose State College in Midwest City.
She began her nursing career 13 years ago. She has been in home health for the last four years. Her nursing career also encompasses pediatrics, long-term acute care, hospice and medical surgical at Norman Regional Hospital. Flatt came to Innova in 2015 where she was warmly welcomed, she said.
“I’ve done everything else,” she said. “And this is the only thing I’ve found where you can actually get to know the patients. I see them in their environment where they are more relaxed. They divulge more information when they are in their own home.”
Being a home health nurse provides ample time for her to sit down with her patients to learn more about their health care needs.
“I love that part,” she said.
Flatt has always identified herself with nursing, even as a child in the small town of McCloud. She is the first nurse in her family.
“If someone had a (problem), I was always the one they came to. It was just never a question that I was going to be a nurse,” she said. “There was never a deciding factor. I was going to be a doctor until I found out how much it would cost at the school I was going to go to.”
Flatt said she has worked for several home health agencies, but Innova is different because it instills a team effort among its nursing staff. She appreciates that the physical therapists at Innova are in-house without being under contract.
“Everywhere else had no idea what was going on with their therapy, but here they sit down with us every week during a case conference about every patient,” Flatt said. “Even patients they don’t have, they still know what is going on with them. I like that about them.”
The nursing staff is small enough that every nurse knows every patient. Flatt said she is able to be updated about the progress of patients that she does not see on a regular basis. She never attends a patient that she knows nothing about.
“We’re always interacting and talking about what’s going on with the patients and that’s not something every agency does,” she continued. “The nurses will ask about your patient and that’s something that’s rare because at bigger agencies, you’re too busy.”
Flatt said one of her patients is a man who recently lost his wife. The other nurses asked how he is doing since his wife passed away.
Flatt has only been with Innova for a few months and never had an opportunity to meet his wife. So the other nurses told her about how they were doing when his wife was alive.
“I thought that’s good to know; that they could tell me about stuff like that about a patient I have never even seen,” Flatt said. “I really like that about them. They take time to care about how your patients are doing.”
All of her nursing experiences in other fields carries over to home health care. The knowledge she gained is indispensable, she said.
Her experience working with acute long-term care patients afforded her time to become proficient in wound care.
“That’s helped me a lot,” Flatt said.
When she’s in a home and sees a wound, Flatt is alone to begin mending the wound.
Her experiences in hospice care galvanized her empathy to communicate with patients and family members in grief.
“And hospital care, I can tell my patients about what’s going to happen when they go to the hospital,” Flatt continued. “If a procedure is coming up and they want to know what’s going to happen when they get there — I can tell them.”
She giggled when asked how she likes to spend her time when away from work.
“I have three daughters and grandbabies,” she said. “That’s basically what I do is play with the grandbabies. I don’t get a lot of fun or things like that because I am busy a lot.”
“So when I am down, it’s either sleeping or playing with grandbabies.”
She didn’t go to nursing school and wanted to raise her kids before attending college so they could attend school first.
“That helped me a lot. I knew I would eventually go and when they got a little bit bigger I did,” she said.