by Bobby Anderson,
Growing up in Purcell, Mark Howard figured one day he would be an economist out working in the financial world.
Fast forward 20 years and the Oklahoma City firefighter, EMT, and Oklahoma Heart Hospital South registered nurse and cath lab manager is saving it instead.
Growing up in the quarter horse capital of the world, Howard had a head for finance and the stock market.
But with a dad who was a local firefighter the family business came calling.
“I guess it’s always been the adrenaline rush,” Howard said, unfolding the story of his fast-paced career options.
Quick. Fast-paced. Steep learning curve.
Howard doesn’t shy away from challenges. Everything he chooses to do it’s all fast-forward.
For the past few years Howard has manned the cath lab at OHH South as manager. He transferred there from an OHH outpatient clinic just two months after the new hospital opened.
He’s been with the OKC fire department even longer. For the past 20 years he’s served Oklahoma City as an EMT.
Now at Station 35 he’s a staple to the city’s south side.
Just after getting married Howard became a tech working in mental health.
He fell in love all over.
“I just saw what the nurses got to do and what they got paid to do,” Howard said.
But before anything Howard was a nurse. It was while he was attending nursing school at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City that a friend talked him into hiring on with the fire department after he finished his third semester.
Now he literally takes people door-to-door in the continuum of care.
“It helps you can see both sides,” Howard said of the EMT and hospital role. “You can see the emergency side of it and you know what the patient can look forward to when they get to the hospital.”
Howard still calls Purcell home. He and wife Stephanie have raised two kids, a daughter and a son.
His 26-year-old son just hired on with the Norman Police Department after a career as a Marine and a bachelors in criminology.
The couples’ 22-year-old daughter has her sights set on medical school and then a career in oncology.
Four years from now, Howard sees himself retired.
“I’ll probably get into travel nursing,” Howard said.
“It’s probably just finally going on vacation and getting paid for it,” he said.
Vacations are a rarity for Howard. Between the two jobs he estimates he works between 48 and 72 hours each week.
Now and then he and Stephanie take the boat to Lake Texhoma just to hang out.
The cath lab is challenging, for a number of reasons.
“The hardest part is probably just working with the doctors,” Howard laughed. “We have 25 different doctors and they all want to work at the same time.”
The cath lab is where Howard controls chaos.
He runs a staff of about 20 each day who make sure between 25 and 30 patients flow smoothly in and out.
It’s all about flow.
“We’re busy here,” Howard says. “We’ve got a really good group, lots of experience, flexible and hard-working.“
Under Howard’s tenure cath lab volume at OHH South has skyrocketed. Volume went from 10-15 patients per month when the facility first opened to between 600 and 700 each month.
Howard usually gets about one day a week off. He’s already counting down retirement with three years and 10 months to go.
His wife doesn’t seem to mind. Maybe that’s because she works as the day patient manager at Oklahoma Heart Hospital South.
Oklahoma Heart Hospital is Oklahoma’s first dedicated heart hospital, and the first all-digital hospital in the nation.
Opened in January of 2010, the South Campus at I-240 and Sooner Road is a three-story, 163,000 square foot facility with three open-heart/peripheral vascular surgical suites, four cardiac and peripheral vascular catheterization labs, and a full-service emergency room.
OHH South has 46 private patient rooms equipped with critical care technology in comfortable and peaceful surroundings.
The Oklahoma Heart Hospital South Medical Office Building is located adjacent to the OHH South Hospital Campus facility. This $12 million, three-story, 70,000 square foot medical office building was constructed in 2010 and houses diagnostic, clinical and cardiac rehab services on the Oklahoma Heart Hospital South Campus.