CAREERS IN NURSING
EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME: INTEGRIS HEALTH EDMOND
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Kennesha Alexander likes the simple yet complex structure of the heart, she said.
“It is the central location of everything,” said Alexander, RN, manager of the cauterization lab and cardiac rehab at INTEGRIS Health Edmond. “We work on the plumbing but also the electricity part of it.”
She has been with INTEGRIS for nearly four years and has worked in the cath lab since 2007.
“It’s very interesting and something is always new. You just get an adrenaline rush when that pager goes off at 3 a.m. in the morning and you know someone needs your help,” she continued. “So you jump out of bed and you run in here to do what you can to save a life.”
The nursing school graduate of Western Kentucky University found INTEGRIS Health Edmond the ideal setting for her nursing career, she said. The cath lab was brand new in 2007. She had never been involved in anything like it, she said.
“I thought, ‘What a great footprint I can leave in starting my career and also there is the community of Edmond,’” she said.
She was looking for a hospital close to home and wanted to be one of pioneer nurses at the hospital. She is part of the community that she serves. The cath lab has been evolving through the years and a new addition is coming to cardiac care.
“We have been growing and we need more space. We’re completing this process by offering cardiac rehab,” she said of the service that began Wednesday, January 11, 2017. The department has gone full circle, Alexander said.
“We can take care of you when your needs are dire straight, but we can also help you get back on your feet and do the rehab and get back to the work you did prior to your heart attack.”
Cardiac Outpatient Rehabilitation helps to build confidence among cardiac patients, she said. People like to stay in the community where they live. They don’t want to travel far distances for their health care.
Cardiac Outpatient Rehabilitation will allow patients the availability of recovery close to home without having to travel to INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. They are more willing and to come to the center after their heart attacks with the convenience of not having to drive another dozen or so miles down the road.
“After you have a heart attack or open heart surgery or anything heart related, we want to start you off slowly,” Alexander said.
Dietary services will discuss nourishment. An electro physiologist is there to set a comfortable exercise program. Patients during this time are being monitored by nurses and the cath lab staff who will be observing heart rate, blood pressure and making sure they patient is well during exercise to give them that confidence, Alexander explained.
“It’s just a big support system. People come here and they know they’re not the only ones. They are not alone in this,” she said. “There’s other people in the community who have had heart attacks,”
Alexander has seen bonds form at the Pacer program at INTEGRIS Baptist. Patients come to the rehab and know each other by name. They feel comfortable with the familiarity of the staff’s faces, Alexander said. The nurses have helped them in an in-patient setting, too.
“Seeing them in an outpatient setting just makes them feel comfortable and welcome,” she said. “It helps them with the fear of not wanting to come by knowing what to expect.”
Patients and the physicians have been wanting the Cardiac Outpatient Rehabilitation services and are excited about the expansive room with exercise equipment coming to fruition. After all, Alexander became a nurse so she could help humanity.
Her mother was diagnosed with cancer when Alexander was a senior in high school and passed away in 2001. That is when Alexander knew she would establish a career in health care. What she found is a hospital filled with compassionate, caring, kind and selfless nurses.
“They do what needs to be done, no matter what, to take care of patients, their coworkers and even visitors.”
“I can just see that when I open the door. They’ll walk you to where you need to go. Their call is to go above and beyond for everybody and not just the patient,” Alexander said. “They get everybody involved, the family, the patient, other staff members and interdisciplinary teams whether it be respiratory, case management and dietary.”
“I love this facility and this hospital for that fact. It’s a welcoming facility. It’s like “Cheers”. Everybody knows your name.”