Meagan Decher is a charge nurse at St. Anthony Healthplex.

Taking Charge

Nurse relishes ER role

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

Flexibility is a trait Meagan Decher, RN learned at a very young age.
With a family that moved from state-to-state with her father’s job, Decher knew she quickly needed to be able to get her bearings if she was going to thrive in a new location.
She went to school at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford but that was well after living in Texas, West Virginia, Kansas, California and eventually here in Oklahoma.
“I like the people I work with,” she says. “Most definitely it’s a huge part of it and I consider some of them my friends. And I like the atmosphere here. We’re not quite as busy as the main ER downtown but we still see emergencies.”
“It’s a little slower pace.”
Being located just a few feet from a major interstate brings in a fair share of traumas.
But at 31, and in her seventh year of nursing, Decher thrives on it.
Maybe it’s why she was drawn to nursing. That flexibility in the face of whatever is something she’s had to draw on as a charge nurse at St. Anthony Healthplex south.
Decher has a unique charge position. Most hospitals will have multiple units, with varying layers of structure and support.
Most nurses can identify who to call in the hospital when they need something or just need to bounce something off of.
When Decher comes to work at the standalone ER it’s just her and her ED nurses.
“You don’t have the resources you have in other places so it’s more independent,” she said. “You can’t call the pulmonologist. We don’t have physical therapy. It’s a little more independent so you have to make some decisions that you don’t normally make in other places.”
St. Anthony Healthplex campuses feature the state’s first fully licensed freestanding Emergency Rooms. Staffed with board certified physicians, the ER offers 24/7 care for life-threatening conditions as well as urgent conditions just like the emergency room does in St. Anthony’s Midtown location.
Located at SW 134th St. and I-44, the Healthplex draws a number of patients from smaller communities such as Tuttle, Newcastle, and Bridge Creek in addition to residents of Moore and South Oklahoma City.
Decher’s first time working as a charge nurse came at Cordell Memorial Hospital right out of nursing school.
She had just finished orientation.
“The doctors aren’t always in the building because they had offices right next door so it was me, two or three LPNs and a nurse tech,” Decher said. “I remember that first weekend by myself it was very stressful because the first thing that came in was a little seven-month-old that didn’t make it.”
“That’s what I remember and that taught me a lot.”
That day was filled with tears, not just the family’s but Decher’s and her staff.
Decher said everyone took a moment to call their kids to tell them they loved them.
The medical examiner showed up later in the day.
Decher also worked the very next day.
“It was rough. It was heartbreaking,” she said. “We had great staff so we all came back and came together and talked about it.”
“There are bad outcomes but there are good outcomes you come back for. There are people you truly help and say thank you and you save their lives. That’s what you come back for.”
Decher is already in nurse practitioner school, working on completing her second year. She’d like to have a focus in adult acute care in a hospital.
“I originally wanted to go to med school but I took some time for nursing,” she said. “I said ‘I’m in a good place where I can go back to school and it’s good timing for it.”
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Being in the right place at the right time Decher partially credits to her staff.
“They’re great. They’re awesome,” she said. “We have a lot of teamwork out here. They all pitch in and help each other. We have a lot of experienced nurses and I think all of them have had more experience than I have.”
“If I have questions I know I can always go to them.”
At 31, it’s a unique dynamic leading staff that are both older and more experienced.
But she feels good right where she’s at.
“I like working with the patients the best,” she says. “I don’t want to do management because I can’t get away from working with people. I have to work with patients so I would never consider management.”
“I couldn’t sit and do paperwork all day.”