by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
Small hospital. Small community.
It’s been that way for close to a decade now for Sara Garcia, RN, as she’s worked for AllianceHealth Midwest in multiple roles
Even though at nearly 60,000 residents Midwest City is the eighth-largest city in Oklahoma.
Even though AllianceHealth Midwest is more than 1,500 employees strong and pumps some $70 million into the local economy through salary and benefits alone.
Even despite all that, what matters to Garcia is the feeling of providing quality care to a small community in a smaller hospital setting.
Garcia is closing in on four years in the cath lab but has worked at AllianceHealth Midwest “forever.”
She began her career on telemetry some nine years ago spent a time as a manager and then transferred downstairs.
She firmly believes there’s no other place for her than AllianceHealth Midwest.
“Probably the fact it kind of feels like family here. Everybody takes care of everybody,” Garcia said of the reasons behind her longevity.
Years ago she went to nursing school at Oklahoma City University. Along the way she would have chosen anything but cardiac.
“I hated cardiovascular in school. I wanted to do peds,” Garcia said. “But I got steered to the telemetry floor and history after that.”
About a year into her career when she started feeling comfortable and things really started to click she realized everything was linked to the heart.
“That’s when I realized this is what I wanted to do,” Garcia said. “I think I just didn’t understand all the different aspects of the heart in school. It didn’t click for me in school so it wasn’t until about a year after when I really started listening to what the doctors were saying and what the patients were saying and correlating lab values and diagnoses and putting the whole picture together.”
The light came on for Garcia and her whole life changed.
“It’s very exciting to realize you actually understand you do what you’re doing,” Garcia said.
It was also exciting to see the cath lab revitalized.
Along the way Garcia has helped the cath lab attain chest pain certification.
“It’s huge at this hospital. All the different departments have their own aspect of chest pain certification and we’ve had to do training throughout the hospital,” she said. “That’s been pretty exciting because everybody has that heightened awareness.”
There’s a huge focus on STEMI and Non-STEMI care now.
It’s helped turn AllianceHealth Midwest into a solid choice for heart care for those in Eastern Oklahoma County.
It’s provided an aging, smaller-community population an alternative to driving into the city receive cardiovascular care.
“I trust the nurses upstairs know how to recognize it and they can call us any time they want and ask questions or get patients sent down here,” she said. “It’s a bigger sense of trust than anything else that I know they’re doing a good job up there as well. We all rely on each other.”
For the first time, the hospital received full Chest Pain Center with PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention) Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care in 2016.
To receive accreditation, AllianceHealth Midwest demonstrated its expertise and commitment to quality patient care by meeting or exceeding a wide set of stringent criteria and completing on-site evaluation by a SCPC review team.
At the time, AllianceHealth Midwest was the only hospital in the state of Oklahoma to receive this level of accreditation.
“This accreditation is another large step in our commitment to providing superior emergency and cardiac care to the residents of Midwest City and Eastern Oklahoma County” said Damon Brown, CEO, AllianceHealth Midwest. “This accreditation was made possible because of the dedicated work and commitment of a multi-disciplinary team that included employees, physicians and paramedics.”
Garcia comes in early and gets her op paperwork ready for each day. Three nurses each day get their own patient load. They go upstairs to retrieve their patients, assist in completion of the procedure and talk them through.
Once they’re stabilized Garcia and her fellow nurses bring them back up to the floor to finish their recovery.
There’s literal hand-holding in Garcia’s job on a daily basis.
“I love it. I love being about to come in the hospital on an emergent cases and wheeling that patient out knowing we just saved their life and knowing I was a part of it,” she said. “It’s that instant. I love it when the patient is on the table in a tremendous amount of pain and we fix them and their first words are ‘My pain is gone.’ It’s so rewarding to know you were a part of that.”
And that’s why she does it again and again.