Denise Geuder, CNO, RN, MS, CNOR, is the vice president of patient care services for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and is chief nursing officer at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa.

Nurse guided by mother standard of care

by Mike Lee, Staff Writer

Sometimes a transition in jobs gives you some time to think about what’s important.
Am I happy with what I’ve been doing?
Would I be happier doing something else?
Denise Geuder, CNO, RN, MS, CNOR, found herself asking those same questions almost 12 years ago.
“It was one of those things where it was a perfect match,” says Geuder, now the vice president of patient care services for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and chief nursing officer at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa. “The patient focus here was really what drew me to CTCA. I thought it was too good to be true.”
More than a decade later, Geuder understands even better.
Since 1988, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) has been helping patients win the fight against cancer using advanced technology and a personalized approach.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America is headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., and is a national network of five hospitals that serves adult patients who are fighting cancer. CTCA offers an integrative approach to care that combines advancements in genomic testing and precision cancer treatment, surgery, radiation, immunotherapy and chemotherapy, with evidence-based complementary therapies that support patients physically and emotionally, enhancing their quality of life while reducing side effects both during and after treatment.
Four of the CTCA hospitals have maintained the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ coveted Five-Star Quality Summary Rating based on patient experience, a reflection of the Patient Empowered Care model and Mother Standard at the heart of operations.
Admittedly, Geuder entered her role not fully understanding the difference her nurses were going to be able to make.
“Today we are managing cancer like a chronic disease. I had the misperception in my head that oncology was always terminal disease. It’s not these days. There are many cancer diagnosis that are curable and many that we manage.”
New data from The 2015 Cancer Experience: A National Study of Patients and Caregivers reveals that overall satisfaction among cancer patients and caregivers with the care they received has improved significantly since the study was first fielded in 2012.
Sixty-two percent of cancer patients say that having a specific individual coordinate their care is important; however, only 32 percent experienced this type of coordination while undergoing treatment. Among patients who currently have coordinated care, the majority (74 percent) were ”completely satisfied,” suggesting a direct correlation between the delivery of coordinated care and the overall patient experience.
That’s where CTCA excels.
“They’re looking to us for hope,” Geuder says. “They’re looking for a different alternative. Honestly, most of our patients come to us for a second opinion. What they find is a wholly-integrated model where everything is under one roof. We have complementary services … where we really focus on their quality of life.”
A 1979 nursing graduate, Geuder is now in her 36th year of nursing. She landed in Tulsa via New Jersey. From there she went to Oral Roberts University and then earned her Master’s through the University of Oklahoma.
She began her career in the operating room, a rarity for a young nurse. That success snowballed into other areas including cardiovascular services, orthopedics, lab, emergency room and into radiology.
Many things have changed around her but Geuder likes that one thing hasn’t: nurses go into nursing to help people.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America takes that one step further.
“One of the most important things we hire for is heart,” Geuder says. “It’s the mother standard of care. We treat everybody like it’s someone in our family. The most important things we look for is the person who will treat our patients in the way we would treat our family. We can teach anybody to treat an oncology patient but we can’t teach them the right heart. That’s something the right person just has.”
At 58, Geuder still plans another decade in nursing.
“I certainly want to continue doing what I’m doing as long as I’m relevant, where I feel like I’m adding to it in a positive way to the work that I do and the the place I work,” she said.
It’s no coincidence that both of Geuder’s daughters are helping people. Ashley, RN, works in labor and delivery.
Daughter Kate is a new patient advocate at CTCA.
“I feel good about that,” Geuder says. (CTCA) is the best place I’ve ever worked.
It’s the patient focus. Everywhere I’ve worked talked about how important patients are.
“Here we live it every day.”