by Vickie Jenkins
What a pleasure to meet Connie Furrh, RN Risk Manager at The Spine Hospital in Oklahoma City, OK. Connie has been a nurse for 45 years. Walking into Connie’s office, is a beautiful picture hanging on the wall, with the scripture, Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10. “This scripture has a very special meaning to me and it has ever since I became a nurse,” Connie said. At the tender age of 8, Connie remembers helping her Nanny when it came to caring for others. “My Nanny was a kind and gentle woman that was always thinking of the other person first. She was such a loving person and I wanted to be just like her; helping others. It was at that time that I knew that I wanted to be a nurse.”
“It was in 1982, I started the PRIDE (Parents Responding to Infant Death Experience) organization. Initially, I learned more from the parents whose babies had died, than from books. I helped plan the first International Walk to Remember program in Washington, DC on the Capitol Steps for Parents whose babies had died. We had parents from all over America attend. Two of the nurses I worked with, Linda Moxley and Joyce Lung wrote the lyrics to the song, From Miracles to Memories and a PRIDE parent, Patti English, wrote the music. The song was performed on the Capitol steps,” Connie said. “The most sobering memory of that time was viewing all of the baby blankets made by those precious parents covering the entire steps to the Capitol.”
Connie attended school at Baptist Memorial School of Nursing. “I graduated with 12 awesome nurses whom I still have regular contact with, most of them to this day. I have worked in and consulted with a lot of hospitals over the years and each time, I learned as much as I could. I have always pushed myself a little farther, striving for excellence and thought continuing my education was a treat. Patients are extremely important to me and I strive to hold standards of care, patient safety endeavors and best practices as a continuing process,” she said.
It was in 1990, that things took an unexpected heart breaking turn. There was an infant abduction at an Oklahoma City Hospital. Going through such a traumatic incident in the hospital, Connie became ill and couldn’t function as before. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue to be a nurse,” Connie said. “My dad was a wise man. He called me and told me to come to Stratford, OK where he lived. When I arrived, he drove me to a small acreage he owned in the country, miles from town. He unloaded a lawn chair and an ice chest. What are you doing? I asked. My father replied, I have asked you to find the time to visit with the Lord and let Him heal you. You haven’t listened to me and now you have no choice. With a kiss on the cheek, he drove off, leaving me there for 6 hours, to have my alone time with God. I listened. I began to heal. I continued my nursing.”
In the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children book, “For health care professionals: Guidelines on prevention of and response to infant abductions”, Connie is one of the contributors with Prevention of Infant Abduction for Healthcare Professionals. She also appears in the Safe Guard Their Tomorrows training video for healthcare professionals. “Prior to the first publication of this book, there was no instruction for hospitals on infant security. I am an authorized trainer for the National Center and teach all over America on how to protect babies in hospitals. It has been 40 months since there has been an infant abduction in a hospital, Connie commented.”
Connie enjoys spending time with her five grandchildren. “I have another one due next month. Both my children chose professions for services to others. I am so proud of them,” Connie says with a smile.
“What are some words you live by?” I ask Connie. “That would be honesty, integrity and good work ethics. My dad nailed a little mirror to my first office wall and told me to look in that mirror when I arrived and promise to give 100% and to look at it at the end of the day. If I had not done what I should have, he told me to sit my purse down and get back to it. I told my dad once, ‘I found a job that is an 8-4 job.’ He said, haven’t you figured out you are the one that makes it longer? I think he taught me great work ethic.”
Connie will always be thankful for her loving parents for many reasons. “I will always remember the time my father took me to the small acreage in the country and the 6 hours I spent all alone, talking to God, beginning to heal. I love my job as a nurse and I love helping others. I will always live by the scripture, Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46.10.”