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AllianceHealth Midwest Nursing Director Donelle Whiu is helping the hospital celebrate its employees from around the globe.

by Bobby Anderson, RN, Staff Writer

“I really like the people in this hospital. I like the community,” she said. “I could have worked in Edmond but I like working in this community. You feel like you’re making more of a difference. The people in this hospital is really what holds it together.” said Donelle Whiu.

A little more than two years ago, Donelle Whiu, RN, received the news her travel nursing agency was placing her in Midwest City.
The New Zealand native’s first thought was “where in the world” as she Googled the unknown locale.
Even after a few minutes she was still puzzled.
But two years later, the Kiwi and her family have embraced central Oklahoma and the community of Midwest City through AllianceHealth Midwest.
Whiu is now the nurse director of the sixth floor medical-surgical unit at the hospital and she’s not the only one with an accent.
So she decided the Midwest City melting pot with a special luncheon and recognition ceremony this week.
“There’s a lot of girls and guys – including our doctors – that are from all over the world,” she said. “We missed Cultural Awareness day but I’ve only just got up here so I figured let’s make a celebration.”
A nurse in her native New Zealand, the Auckland native came to the states through Avant Healthcare Professionals.
After she finished her two-year contract this summer she signed on as a nurse manager of 6M, a medical-surgical unit.
“I think it’s probably because I am from a different background and we’ve all somehow ended up in Midwest City, Oklahoma,” Whiu said of her idea to celebrate the hospital’s diversity. “This is the community we are committed to serve and we need to celebrate not only people who are here but where we’ve all come from to get here.”
When Avant told her she was coming to a place called Midwest City she immediately went to Google Maps.
“I said ‘where?’ and then went online and still said ‘where is this place?’” she said. “I really had no idea what to expect but I found a little community that was a really neat little community.”
There were a lot of surprises when she brought her husband and children to the states.
Some good, some not so good.
“I think things that surprised me was there were a lot of similarities to the place I worked back home and the community I worked in back home,” she said. “Definitely the hospital and the type of people that come here and the people we look after are very similar to back home even though it’s the other side of the world.”
“Same problems just on another continent.”
Healthcare is universal.
“It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, what religion you are or what country you hail from if you’re sick you’re sick and you need to be cared for,” Whiu said.
Getting her family’s appetite to adjust to American food has been a challenge.
“The food is terrible. American food in general is terrible,” she said. “But that’s a long story. That goes back to sugar lobbyists and things like that. We did take a while to adjust to the food and find local farmer’s markets. Getting used to processed food and places like Sonic – drive-in fast food was not even in our comprehension when we first got here.”
All Whiu has to do is look around her unit to see a representation of healthcare from across the world. Farah Abdollah, RN, hails from the Middle East.
Li Seabourg, RN, is from China.
Muiruri Kamau, APRN, came to the U.S. from Kenya.
Dr. Sheharyar Ali, interventional cardiologist, hails from Pakistan.
Whiu knows that one by heart after New Zealand bested Pakistan in the recent Cricket World Cup.
It’s a fact she continues to remind Dr. Ali whenever she sees him.
Whiu herself loves to travel. It’s part of the reason she’s also co-owner of a travel agency.
She hopes to be visiting Egypt in the near future.
In preparation for the week, Whiu went out and bought a world map and a box full of pushpins.
“The only continent we do not represent – which I’m quite happy about – is Australia,” Whiu laughed. “We have someone from every other continent.”
Along the way, Whiu and her family have enjoyed finding smaller, local restaurants out of the mainstream.
To this day, Whiu still remembers some of the worst foods she’s tried.
“Corn dogs and pickle slushies. That’s not a thing. I don’t understand,” Whiu said.
Whiu’s youngest has almost lost her accent. Her high school senior is trying to decide where to go to college.
Her husband, a psychologist by trade, began working in the oilfield first. Now he works for Pepsi.
Whiu is hooked on Midwest City.
“I really like the people in this hospital. I like the community,” she said. “I could have worked in Edmond but I like working in this community. You feel like you’re making more of a difference. The people in this hospital is really what holds it together.”

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Kristina Flak, RN-CVCU, was recently presented with our first DAISY Award. The DAISY Award is an international recognition program that honors and celebrates the skillful, compassionate care nurses provide every day.
Anthony Jones, her nominator and former patient, stated “From the very beginning, Kristina kept letting me know that I was in great hands. . .She was always available for all of our questions and then there were times when we just talked about life. Having that kind of compassion is nothing short of awesome and I think is what helped me get to the kind of healing I have today.”

Companion Healthcare Hiring Home Health RN Case Manager

· Positive team environment with leaders who value our staff. · Serve to make a difference · Family-owned and operated. · Guthrie, Edmond, Stillwater area

APPLY ONLINE: www.companionhealth.net
Or in person—1320 E. Oklahoma

· Competitive Salary · Medical, Dental & Vision Benefits · Life Insurance · Matching 401K · Paid Time Off · Company Car · Great Staff and Work Environment

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Meagan Bridgforth, RN enjoys working in the ER at SSM El Reno. Her main concern is caring for the patients in the best way that she is able.

by Vickie Jenkins – Writer/Photographer

Growing up in Mustang, OK, life was good for Meagan Bridgforth. She is a graduate of Mustang High School. When it came to careers, she wanted to be a police officer. Little did she know that later on, her mom would be her inspiration to become a nurse, changing her goal of police officer to RN.
Meagan is an excellent nurse. She has been a nurse for three years now and loves her job at SSM Health in El Reno, OK. With the responsibilities of caring for the patients in an emergency situation, she is still willing to do any job around SSM Health if needed. “All of us are actually a Jack-of-all-Trades,” she said with a smile. “From the minute the patient checks in until they leave, they are in our care and we are all going to join in and work together as a team. Sometimes, we have 3-4 patients in a 12-hour work day and other times, we have so many that we get overwhelmed, checking the patients in one after another, non-stop. No matter what, we are there to help these people in the best way we can,” Meagan said.
“When I entered college, I wanted to be a police officer and knew I would make a career out of it. My mom was a paramedic and decided that she would go to school and become a nurse. She got a job in labor and delivery at St. Anthony hospital downtown. My younger sister is an RN at St. Anthony’s and my older sister was a scrub tech there. Shortly afterwards, I got a job at St. Anthony’s as a medical assistant in a float pool, going around to different offices there. I helped wherever I was needed. Then, I had kids and my life changed. I decided that I would take my medical experience farther and become a nurse. I went to OCCC, got my nursing degree and worked at St. Anthony’s also. There was a time that all four of us worked at St. Anthony’s at the same time. So, my initial inspiration came from my family. They were all great supporters. Even though I loved working at St. Anthony’s downtown, I know that SSM Health is where I am meant to be and I love it,” Meagan said.
Asking Meagan what her favorite part of her job is, she said, “Without a doubt, it is caring for the patients. Working here, we never know what kind of injury will be coming through the door. It could be the smallest of things; yet, it makes a big difference in the patient’s life. That is so gratifying and rewarding to know that we are making a difference.”
Do you prefer working in a small place like SSM Health over working in a big hospital? “I actually like working in a rural area like this. Of course, that could be because I grew up in Mustang, OK. Even though it can be hard to get certain resources for the patient, I love the small town feel like we have here. It’s like one big family here we all get along with each other, making a great team. We work together and I think that is very important. I love my job here,” Meagan replied.
When asking Meagan to describe herself. “I really like to be on a personal level with my co-workers and with the patients. When I get on a personal level, the patient seems to open up more, putting their trust in me and knowing that I am going to make them feel better. I also work well with others and I am very compassionate. I am quick at responding and consider myself a leader,” Meagan replied.
What advice would you give to someone going into the medical field? “The best advice I could give them is, don’t ever lose your compassion for you patient and co-workers. Keep a tough skin and always do your best,” Meagan said.
Meagan’s motivation comes from her husband, children and family. Her encouraging words are, “Stay patient all day and breathe!” She looks forward to seeing what lies ahead and what the future holds for her.
On a personal note, Meagan is married to her wonderful husband, John who supports her in everything she does. Her pride and joy are her two children, Maranda, 15 and Hank, 9 years old. Her hobbies include traveling and going to the lake.
If Meagan were to sum up her life with one word, it would be, REWARDING.


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AllianceHealth Midwest Medical-Surgical Unit

I love Singapore, my country, Switzerland and Dubai.

Farah Abdollah, RN

Back to Kenya and Lake Mombasa.

Muiruri Kamau, APRN

I like to travel to my backyard with my vegetable garden and roses.

Li Seabourg, RN

Okinawa, Japan. It’s full of ocean and their dances are beautiful.

Jennifer Sumrall, PCT

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Six eligible Cancer Institute at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center nurses have joined the ranks of Oncology Certified Nurses, passing a very challenging exam validating knowledge and management of patients in adult oncology care.
This designation gives patients confidence the nursing care they receive is evidence-based and best practice-centered on oncology care standards.

We are hiring RNs, LPNs and Charge Nurses!

PRN and Full Time positions available.

Great work environment, excellent benefits!

**$6,000 sign-on bonus for Charge Nurses**

We are seeking a select group of LPN’s and RN’s for renewable 13 week agreements!

12 hour shifts, 7 working days in a 2 week pattern
RN’s at $50.00 per hour
LPN’s at $35.00 per hour

1 year of medical-surgical experience required. CPR required, ACLS preferred.
Apply now at

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There is no better place to earn an RN degree than by attending OSU Institute of Technology and receiving an Associate in Applied Science Degree. The OSUIT Registered Nursing Program is approved by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
“Our nursing labs feature advanced simulation mannequins – enabling practice for a wide range of nursing procedures. OSUIT’s Nursing Program provides: hands-on learning environments, experienced faculty, numerous employment opportunities with excellent salary potential, smaller cohorts, caring faculty, and faculty that want you to succeed,” states Dr. Jana Martin, dean School of Nursing and Health Sciences.
“We’re very proud of our graduates and the quality of our program. Upon successful completion of the degree program, faculty continue to monitor the student and their NCLEX-RN preparation. We guide them for success on licensure,” Martin states.
Upon successful completion of the NCLEX-RN, graduates are eligible for employment as a registered nurse helping people in a lifelong career that provides both personal satisfaction and great income. Dr. Martin said in the last several years OSUIT’s NCLEX pass rate has improved, and the trend seems to be continuing. Our graduates are normally offered a job before they graduate.
“We have a rigorous program. It has to be rigorous— we are dealing with patients’ lives, your family member’s life.” Martin said students who come to the nursing program are almost always surprised by how difficult and challenging it is, even for those who excelled in high school or other college programs. “It’s a new way of learning that they’re not used to. It’s a different type of memorization that adds application of the critical thinking process. There is a large amount of reading required and commitment from the student. It requires organization, flexibility, the ability to make tough decisions and prioritize. As one of our previous graduates, Carolyn Casey stated, “you must make choices to succeed.”
Students need a wide array of support at home as well to be successful. The training and education are tough because the profession is hard work, Martin said, and the faculty in the nursing program are continually working to ensure the program improves while also meeting the needs of the industry. “Our faculty make sure this is a quality program. They make sure we maintain our standards.”
“Everything we have done, and our accomplishments are because of our faculty,” she said. “They stay up to date on best practices and new technologies.” It’s all in service in making sure the students are prepared and knowledgeable when they start their careers. “We believe that our program prepares them for success not only in passing NCLEX-RN but the career of nursing as well,” Martin said.


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Mercy, named one of the nation?s Top 15 Health Systems in 2016 by Truven, an IBM company, is the seventh largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves millions annually. Mercy includes 45 acute care and specialty (heart, children?s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. (PRNewsFoto/Mercy)

Mercy is providing $500,000 in grants to nearly 30 organizations in seven states that serve children, elderly, homeless and uninsured people. Six organizations in Oklahoma will receive a combined total of $114,625 in grants.
Since 1987, Mercy has awarded funds, now totaling more than $15 million, that provide medical care, counseling, housing, meals and more. This year’s grants will benefit more than 48,000 people.
Of the 29 grants, 19 are Mercy Caritas (Latin for “charity”) grants that support community-based programs consistent with Mercy’s mission and vision, as well as align with an identified community health need. The remaining 10 grants were awarded to Sisters of Mercy working in direct service to people in poverty.
“Catherine McAuley, who founded the Sisters of Mercy in 1831, had a zeal to serve those in need and Mercy’s health ministry continues those efforts today,” said Sister Mary Roch Rocklage, Mercy’s health ministry liaison and board member. “By giving back to our communities, we honor our mission of Mercy.”
Mercy Caritas was established to provide funds to health and human services programs that meet unique community needs.
Here is the list of recipient organizations in Oklahoma:
* Compassion Outreach Center (Ada) – The Health Improvement Initiative expands and enhances medical, dental, vision and pharmaceutical services of the center, which serves uninsured Pontotoc County residents. This expansion of services and purchase of needed medical equipment will promote improved health and wellness of patients.
* Good Shepherd Community Clinic, Inc. (Ardmore) – Through the Prescription Assistance Pharmacy Program, the clinic can acquire $3 million in nonnarcotic medications for patients every year. Prescription assistance services are provided to low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients free of charge.
* The Grace Center of Southern Oklahoma (Ardmore) – With a mission to prevent homelessness and increase self–sufficiency for all people, the center provides education and resource assistance in a culturally sensitive, encouraging and Christ-centered environment.
* The Landing Bridge (Ardmore) – The Landing Bridge is a support group for youth who are at high risk for juvenile delinquency, social struggles and academic failure.
* Health Alliance for the Uninsured (Oklahoma City) – The Colorectal Cancer Screening and Prevention Program increases access to screening, early detection and prevention for low-income, uninsured adults who are asymptomatic but may be at risk of cancer. The purpose is to educate patients, provide easy, take home, fecal immunochemical tests and coordinate access to additional diagnostic testing, surgery and treatment.
* Johnston County Kids (Tishomingo) – The program provides weekly nutrition education, healthy food options and hygiene training for elementary-age children. It offers healthy supplemental food in weekend backpacks, school supplies, food for existing school pantries and support for after-school programs for students.

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Macaroni “Mackee”, a 10-year-old Dalmatian therapy dog, walks close by owner Jane Neely and settles on the floor surrounded by children and books at the Midwest City Library.
After a little girl reads a book to Jane, while showing pictures to Mackee, a young boy comes in near the spotted dog and begins reading a book about cougars.
“Children are so open. They just sit down without any inhibitions and pet Mackee or read to him,” said Jane, a Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Central Oklahoma volunteer since 2005. “Sometimes they read to me and sometimes they like me to help them with their reading. Mackee is patient and just loves the kids.”
Jane is an active member of Therapy Dogs International, the leader in training and certifying therapy dogs, and Mackee is a certified therapy dog. She has had a love of Dalmatians for years, having owned nine. When she first began volunteering with RSVP, she gave her time delivering meals, but the love she has for her dogs and sharing them with others blossomed into a new volunteer opportunity reading to children at libraries and visiting nursing homes, where sometimes Mackee performs tricks for the residents.
Laura McPheeters, RSVP of Central Oklahoma volunteer coordinator, said that Jane’s dog is an icebreaker and comfort to children and the elderly, and that people feel no judgment and feel unconditionally supported by the dogs almost instantaneously.
“I think it’s fun to be a volunteer with RSVP and share my dog with people,” Jane said. “Dogs are born to love.”
Since 1973, RSVP of Central Oklahoma has helped senior adults continue to live with purpose and meaning by connecting them with rewarding community volunteer opportunities, including RSVP’s Provide-A-Ride Senior Transportation Program. RSVP is a partner of Senior Corps and the United Way of Central Oklahoma. To learn more about becoming a volunteer, call Laura McPheeters at 405.605.3110 or visit rsvpokc.org. You can also follow RSVP on Facebook at facebook.com/RSVPokc.

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Emily Hebert is a post-doctoral fellow at the Stephenson Cancer Center at OU Medicine.

A post-doctoral fellow at the Stephenson Cancer Center at OU Medicine has received a highly competitive federal grant that will launch her research career focused on using mobile technology for tobacco cessation.
Emily Hebert, who holds a doctoral degree in public health, was awarded a K99 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. She is completing her post-doctoral training at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, a program of the Stephenson Cancer Center. Her research involves using smartphone technology to help people stop using tobacco.
The K99 grant plays a key role for researchers as they transition from post-doctoral training to junior faculty member. In order to establish an independent research program, post-doctoral fellows must conduct preliminary research, then use the data from those studies to apply for larger federal awards.
“The K99 award is a great opportunity,” Hebert said. “Most junior faculty are required to split their time across multiple projects and teaching. The K99 award guarantees that 75 percent of my time can be focused on my continued training and professional development, while I prepare and conduct a research study.”
Hebert’s research focuses on using smartphones to understand the triggers that make people want to smoke, in order to automatically deliver tailored messages in real time to try to prevent them from lighting a cigarette. Thus far, most smoking cessation interventions have been based on group-level patterns of smoking lapse – when people are feeling stress, for example, they are more likely to smoke. But Hebert’s aim is to develop a personalized algorithm that identifies each person’s smoking triggers and automatically delivers messages only when they are needed.
Hebert will spend the next two years exploring machine learning – the process by which computers use data to identify patterns. Through working with mentors on OU’s Norman campus and attending workshops and conferences, she will learn more about how machine learning can be integrated into her research. Her project involves sending short surveys via smartphones, several times a day, to research participants who want to stop smoking. Participants will be asked about their mood and environment, such as “Are you with any other smokers right now?” and “How strong is your craving to smoke?” The technology will then be used to “learn” how and when individuals are triggered to smoke.
“This research will help us to identify patterns in each smoker’s behavior, then an algorithm will be used to determine the types of messages that should be delivered, and when they should be delivered, to try to prevent someone from smoking,” Hebert said. “Understanding machine learning also will enable me to use data from other technology, such as a person’s heart rate from a smartwatch or activity monitor, to indicate when smoking relapse is imminent. I believe these methods could be used to help tailor interventions that address other cancer risk factors, like obesity and physical inactivity.”
During the second year of the grant, Hebert will begin interviewing for faculty positions. Once she secures a tenure-track faculty position, the next phase of her research career will begin: using machine learning to develop the actual smartphone-based smoking intervention.
Michael Businelle, Ph.D., Hebert’s primary mentor on the study, said her research is part of a growing field that leverages technology to study and intervene in health risk factors and behaviors.
“Dr. Hebert’s innovative project will contribute to this growing area of research while helping people to stop smoking and decrease their risk of developing cancer,” he said.
The work of Hébert and other researchers at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center is supported by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. An endowment created by state voters in 2000 to improve the health of Oklahomans, TSET is dedicated to reducing the state’s leading causes of preventable death – cancer and cardiovascular disease – caused by tobacco use and obesity.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma (BCBSOK) and INTEGRIS Health are pleased to announce they have reached a new longer-term agreement ensuring all INTEGRIS Health facilities will remain in the BCBSOK network.
“Our goal with this agreement is to impact our state’s overall health, in alignment with Governor Stitt’s bold vision to make Oklahoma a top 10 state,” said Timothy Pehrson, President and CEO of INTEGRIS. “As newly appointed leaders of both INTEGRIS Health, the state’s largest health system, and BCBSOK, the state’s largest health insurer, we came to the table and asked, “what can we do to help improve Oklahoma’s health ranking?” This is a daunting task given our state currently ranks 47 out of 50 in overall health.”
He added, “As we collaborated and brainstormed together, it was decided that a tighter relationship between our two organizations would be critical to create the necessary building blocks to advance the health of Oklahomans”.
“This new agreement obligates both of our organizations to jointly develop new value-based care capabilities that emphasize improving health outcomes of our members and patients. Value-based care is an innovative health care delivery and payment model that incentivizes health care providers and hospital systems to focus on their patient’s health outcomes. The traditional fee-for-service model that is currently used simply pays for the care completed, regardless of the outcome,” explained Joseph R. Cunningham, M.D., BCBSOK President.
“There are no other industries where a consumer continues to pay the same price, regardless of the quality of the service or result of the service they’re purchasing. That’s essentially what value-based care is aiming to change. What this means for BCBSOK members who are INTEGRIS patients is that the care received from these joint efforts will be more collaborative, coordinated and focused on better health outcomes.”
An exciting component of the unprecedented five-year contract is that for the first time, INTEGRIS providers will be included in the Blue Advantage PPOSM. The effective date of that offering is expected to be Sept. 1, 2019. Members in the Blue TraditionalSM, Blue Choice PPOSM, Blue Preferred PPOSM, BlueLincs HMOSM and Blue Plan65 SelectSM will continue to receive in-network benefit levels at INTEGRIS.
This innovative relationship alone will not move Oklahoma to a top 10 state; however, it does lay the foundation to begin a long-term transformational journey. In addition, INTEGRIS and BCBSOK are committed to working jointly with state officials, health agencies, businesses, communities and others to achieve this goal.