0 1704
Betsy Williams, RN, enjoys the change of pace she experiences in her new home health career after seven years of fruitful learning in hospitals.

by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer


Betsy Williams, RN, is new to Companion Home Health after having always worked in hospitals since she graduated from Platt College in 2008.
“It’s just something different, a change of pace,” said Williams, case manager at Companion Hospice, with offices in Guthrie and Oklahoma City.
“I really like it. You get a lot closer with the patients. It’s different because you’re entering their world instead of them entering yours. It’s a whole new ball game, really,” Williams explained.
She has worked in med/surg and intensive care at a couple of large metro hospitals. Now as case manager, she sees a continuity of care from start to finish with her patients.
“You are the doctor’s eyes and ears obviously since you’re going into a home,” Williams said. “So with a lot of it, it’s good to have the hospital experience because you have seen the disease process. A lot of it is more preventative when you’re going into the homes. I think that’s why I like it, because I can see earlier in the disease process.”
Sometimes a patient might need a little bit of extra care after having a knee replacement or other procedures. And they seem to be a lot more compliant to follow-up care when staying in their own homes for recovery, Williams said.
A home health nurse can tell when their patient is not following medical advice. A patient living with congestive heart failure will develop too much water in their system resulting in feet and limbs that are swollen.
“If they say they’re not eating salt, they’re probably not telling the truth,” Williams said.
Nurses can better control a patient’s diet that is delivered to a hospital room. But most of the time, home health patients remain compliant because they must agree to be on home health, Williams said.
“Patients who agree to be in home health want to get better,” Williams said. “They’re their own advocate.”
A disease process determines the length of stay for a person enrolled in home health, she said. Companion Hospice has had some patients who have been part of home heath for months due to the need for dressing changes every day, Williams continued.
“And then we’ve had patients that were on it for two weeks who wanted that little bit of help once getting home from the hospital,” Williams said. “But the average is five to six weeks.”
Williams chose to work at Companion Home Health because of the people who work there. Guthrie is a small, closely-knit town where everybody knows that Companion is a great company for a career, Williams said.
“I know they’re really good to their employees. I’ve always heard of the great things they do for their employees,” Williams said. “And everybody is super friendly and super nice. You know, it just comes down to being about the patient.”
Williams said she has seen Companion Home Health accept patients who are without insurance and “eat the cost.” Companion Home Health is a compassion-driven business serving humanity, she said. It’s never about quantity of the money. Companion is not about how much money can be made quickly, she said.
“It’s truly about the people,” she said. “They’re great to their employees and their patients. Everybody here is like family. Everybody gets along. There’s no drama. It’s nice.”
She admires the nursing staff for going above and beyond their line of duty for a patient. She has seen that with all the nurses she has met at Companion, Williams said.
“You have to have a lot of knowledge to do home health because you’re it,” she said of working independently. “You don’t have a doctor right behind you that you can look at and say, ‘What do you think?’”
She gathers all the details of patient care when in a home and communicates it to a physician.
“The nurses here are very knowledgeable. I’ve worked in med/surge and ICU and I’m still learning stuff here,” Williams said.
She also learned about nursing from her step mother, who inspired Williams’ interest in the career. Her step mother serves in the ICU as a registered nurse at Kindred hospital in Oklahoma City.
“I always thought it was really neat. She’d come home and tell us stories,” Williams said. Williams is on-her-toes most of the day, but when not working is all about family, she said.
“We like to go to the lake with the whole family, my brother and kids. We all share a lake house and we try to go up there as much as we can in the summer time,” Williams said.

0 2465

What’s the best decision you ever made? Integris Southwest Medical Center – 6th Floor


To become a nurse. Sarah Morris, RN

Going to nursing school at OSU-OKC. Kasey Frazier, RN

Probably going to college to get higher education. Megan Guarnera, RN

Not to drop out of nursing school. It was real iffy there for awhile. Lorna B Caraway, RN

0 1283

So I said to my boyfriend, “How can I be with you when I don’t know how to be with me?”


When Jennifer ended her three year relationship she sat in my office and said, “I have no idea who I am; what I believe in: what I want to do with my life? I haven’t been happy in this relationship for over a year and yet I stayed. I had a serious boyfriend in high school and we continued dating in college. We broke up and I started dating almost immediately. I am now 27 and realize that I have never had a relationship with myself.”
The game plan for Jennifer was the following:
1. She was “grounded” from dating. She had way too much work to do on her herself to share any of that energy with someone else.
2. Buy an awe inspiring journal and pencil or pen.
3. Download some favorite music. (Fortunately Jennifer did know what kind of music she liked).
Now the journey begins. Lets focus on mindfulness. How much of your time do you spend doing “mindless” activities? Have you created a routine for yourself that really leaves you quite unfulfilled upon serious inspection? Being mindful puts the focus on what you are doing and how you make it meaningful.
Have you ever really given thought to your belief systems about life? Consider the following topics:
1. Who are you really attracted to and why?
2. Have you ever made a “deal breaker” list and stuck with it?
3. Do you choose people to make your family/friends happy?
4. Do you develop a friendship based on communication and getting to know each other before having a physical relationship?
5. Do you speak up and have a voice or let someone else talk for you?
6. When your gut speaks, do you listen?
In the movie, Runaway Bride, Julia Roberts lets herself get so involved in a relationship that she plans to marry, then runs away. There is a scene where she has several plates of eggs cooked different ways. She is studying them. She states, “I have no idea how I like my eggs.” She liked whatever her boyfriend liked.

Find you before you find someone else. You will be surprised how much difference it makes.

0 1997
Pictured: Back row, left to right: George Kurey, Job Coach and Employment Specialist (Francis Tuttle Technology Center), Preston Hibbard, Anthony Sandland. Front Row left to Right: Stella Church, Job Coach (Francis Tuttle Technology Center), Jacob Sampson, Dee Dee Clyne, Instructor (Francis Tuttle Technology Center), Nicholas Leggett, and Austin Bryan.

INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center would like to congratulate the Project SEARCH graduating class of 2015. Preston Hibbard, Anthony Sandland, Nicholas Leggett, Jacob Sampson & Austin Bryan were honored at a special ceremony on May 11th.
Project SEARCH is a program that provides young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the opportunity to learn transferrable job skills and then transition them to meaningful employment within the community. INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City started their Project SEARCH program in 2013. This is the third class to graduate from the program.
“We are very proud of our program, and our students,” says INTEGRIS’ Regional Director of Human Resources and Project SEARCH Business Liaison, Tera Latta. “The interns truly transform and become more confident and independent by the end of the school year. It’s also a rewarding experience for our employees to be able to mentor and work with the interns on a daily basis. We become very attached by the end of the school year and are sad to see them go, but at the same time, we feel very proud when we see their personal transformation and learn about the jobs they’ve earned following graduation.”
The interns follow the school calendar and participate in three non-paid, 10-week internship rotations at INTEGRIS. Interns are given support through on-the-job coaching and work site accommodations. They also attend class at INTEGRIS, for additional employability skills training such as interviewing, resume writing, hygiene, nutrition, personal finance, communication, etc.
The program is a partnership between INTEGRIS, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Canadian Valley Technology Center, Dale Rogers Training Center, The Department of Rehabilitation Services, and The University of Oklahoma’s National Center for Disability Education and Training.
INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Health Center in Enid has also hosted a successful Project SEARCH program since 2010, and INTEGRIS Canadian Valley in Yukon, also graduated its first class of Project SEARCH interns this month.
For more information about Project SEARCH, please visit:, or contact Judi Goldston, Project SEARCH Statewide Coordinator, at 405-325-0448.

0 1495

Robert Rader, M.D., has been appointed Chief of Staff for St. Anthony Hospital.
Board certified in Family Medicine, Dr. Rader graduated from pharmacy school at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford and medical school from the University of Oklahoma, completing the program in 1998. He completed his residency in family medicine at St. Anthony Hospital, where he remained on staff as a teaching physician after residency.
Dr. Rader is also currently the Senior Medical Director of the Mark 5 Care Group hospitalist program, and is the Regional Medical Director of Informatics as well as the Medical Director for Clinical Integration where he works with rural hospitals coordinating care of patients.
Dr. Rader will serve a two-year term as Chief of Staff and will be succeeded by Chief of Staff Elect Chad Borin, D.O., in 2017.

0 4135
Scott and Kendra Plafker

Scott and Kendra Plafker have been married for 17 years. But this year marked a milestone that precious few couples ever celebrate: Their first scientific paper co-authored by just the two of them.
“We’ve had plenty of papers with both our names on them, but it was special to be able to publish something on our own, just the two of us,” said Scott Plafker, Ph.D., R.Ph., a researcher in the Free Radical Biology & Aging Research Program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
Together with his wife, Kendra, Plafker works at OMRF studying age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss among elderly Americans. The couple is searching for ways to prevent and improve the treatment of the eye disease.
For many wives and husbands, working together might prove a recipe for disaster. But for the Plafkers, they’ve built a successful partnership in the laboratory by defining what each spouse is responsible for.
He sets the overall direction of the research, designing experiments and writing the grants that fund the projects. Meanwhile, she manages the day-to-day operations of a six-person lab that conducts the experiments.
“The goal is to have somewhat defined roles that complement one another so we can be as efficient as possible,” said Kendra. “We’ve done it long enough now that we have figured out how to strike the right balance. It just took time.”
The pair met in the early 1990s, when she was a lab technician and he a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. They married in 1997 and relocated to the University of Virginia and, ultimately, to Oklahoma in 2003, when he accepted a position to run his own lab and she became his lab manager.
That transition, said Kendra, proved challenging. “We had worked side-by-side in the lab for years but on totally different projects. Once we moved to Oklahoma, everything was the same: the same projects, the same work schedule. That was a little weird to not have our own niches.”
Over time, though, the two figured out how to strike a balance by dividing up responsibilities. It’s similar to how they handle things on the home front, where Kendra cooks and manages finances, leaving laundry and cleaning detail to Scott.
“I’d definitely say Kendra is more in charge of big-picture things at home, and I’m more detail-oriented,” said Scott. “Our roles are completely reversed from how they are at work. At home, you could say I’m basically a teenager with an ATM card.”
In the lab, their successful collaboration has most recently led to the Plafker-and-Plafker-authored paper in the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell. The research study focuses on one of the main molecules they’ve been studying at OMRF.
That molecule, known as NFR2, is a powerful protein that’s in every cell in the body but is unable to operate or move until it’s released by a chemical activator. Understanding how it migrates into the nucleus of the cell and binds to DNA, said Scott, could help scientists gain a deeper understanding of a variety of illnesses, including macular degeneration.
“To use a military reference, the protein NRF2 is like a general that is responsible for keeping the cells in our body safe from stress,” said Scott. “NRF2 orchestrates the troops — the many distinct types of anti-stress proteins in a cell — to work in a coordinated manner so they can effectively neutralize stress.”
Their manuscript has uncovered a new mechanism that regulates NRF2 to work more efficiently and better protect cells. Decreases in the NRF2 defense system have been linked to age-related macular degeneration and to other neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.
While working together 45-50 hours each week might drive some couples to seek “alone time” off the job, the Plafkers also enjoy many joint pastimes, including playing Scrabble, binge-watching shows on Netflix and traveling across Europe. They usually commute to and from work as a couple and can be found just about every day eating lunch together in the OMRF cafeteria.
Spending so much time with each other might not work for all couples, but, said Kendra, “It’s the only way we’ve ever known.” In fact, when Scott changed labs for a brief time, they realized just how much they cherished their hyper-interactive partnership.
“Only seeing each other on the way in to work, at lunch and on the drive home—that was weird and lonely,” Kendra said.

0 2327
Kramer School of Nursing LEAN team members seated from left to right include Gina Crawford, DNP, MS, APRN-CNP; Lauren Riney, BS. Standing are Sara Manning, MSN, RN, CNE; and Staci Swim, MSN, RN, CNE.

by James Coburn
Staff Writer

Kramer School of Nursing has invested time and talent in the quality improvement, said Staci Swim, faculty at Kramer School of Nursing at Oklahoma City University. The LEAN program at Kramer is an across-the-board process that Kramer adopted from INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center as an improvement model.
Lean health care methodology is a strategy for better clinical outcome within an organization. It makes healthier, more efficient and high performing organizations, Swim said.
Dr. Carol Mannahan and Kramer faculty member Swim were invited to go for two days of training at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center to become LEAN certified leaders, Swim said. The LEAN program endeavors to find all of the waste in a process such as down time, over handling and confusion.
Kramer School of Nursing LEAN team members include Gina Crawford, DNP, MS, APRN-CNP; Lauren Riney, BS.; Sara Manning, MSN, RN, CNE; and Staci Swim, MSN, RN, CNE
“Anything like that to get it down to the bare minimum to help that process go smoothly,” she explained. “The maiden voyage was to find the low-hanging fruit in our environment that really needs some help. So what we had identified as a team is that our students in the clinical preparation of vaccination, CPR and other paper work that need to be done is our low-hanging fruit that we chose.”
INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center provided a representative to Kramer to help start the program. Faculty examined the entire process from admission to the first day that students began their clinical work and identified areas that needed improvement, Swim said.
Each step of the process is drawn on a map by a collaborative team that included Student Health, she said. Three areas were noted on the step-by-step map.
Lauren Riney, administrative assistant to the dean, said the program is extremely beneficial.
“I have stepped in to help with the clinical requirements because of the absence of someone in that position,” she said. “It’s hard. There were a lot of gaps in the process and we’re trying to fix it.”
One of the gaps identified the need for a set deadline for immunizations, she said. And, not all of the students have recognized the importance of the immunization deadline, Riney said.
“It’s a big deal. It’s communications,” she explained.
Swim said the problems they identified apply to all schools of nursing as a common theme.
“Eventually, we’ve talked about taking it to NESA,” Swim said. “That’s where all the schools and hospitals come together to try to find clinical sites, and talk to the hospitals about what the hospitals may require, because at this point, everyone requires something different from the students.” Swim said.
Swim can envision a collaborative process that Kramer can work with all the city hospitals to either adopt the strictest criteria, or something in-between of what is required of the students
“Through that, hopefully we can have a well-oiled machine that gets students in clinical, in the proper time frame,” she said. “We’re thinking big.”
Part of the discussion about students getting their immunizations in a set time frame could involve the first week of classes, Swim said.
“Could they come here and get their immunizations?,” she said.
Most of the Kramer students come from out of state and do not immediately have care providers for their health. So simplifying the process for the students to earn their clinical requirements would also make it easier for the school itself, Swim said.
“Same with CPR. Can we do a CPR class here?” Swim said. “Can we do a one-stop shopping and keep up with it?”
The process will continue indefinitely and be refined as needed. Kramer plans to take on a LEAN project once a year and complete it by the time the school year concludes, Swim said.
“In this meeting today, we’re hoping to get some questions answered about what are the ramifications. How would it affect the school, student health, How does it affect us because it is a collaborative project? Change is going to affect everyone involved. We want to make sure that it’s the best change that we can make and be informed about the ramifications.”
Swim said the process is demanding and overwhelming, But the effort will produce greater efficiencies for the university and hospitals.
“The rewards are that our students will have clinical spots,” Swim said.

0 1744
Amy Milton, BSN, RN, CPN, Nurse Liaison at the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital is inspired by her faith.

story and photo by Vickie Jenkins


Meet Amy Milton, BSN, RN, CPN, Nurse Liaison, working at the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital. After graduating from Oklahoma Baptist University, Milton started working as a nurse where she has been for five years. She has held the position of Nurse Liaison for the past two years. Playing an important role, Milton is the one that evaluates the child that is in acute-care hospitals beginning with the pre-admission process, following through until their release. She is with the child from the beginning to the end, keeping the communication open.
When Milton was a little girl, she always wanted to be a nurse. Growing up with her mom being a nurse, her mom had a great influence on her life. Now, Milton’s mom works as the main OR supervisor at OSU Medical Hospital in Tulsa, OK. Milton always knew that her mom loved her job and loved helping people so Milton followed in her mom’s footsteps. “My mom was my mentor when I was going through school because I always went to her if I had a medical question,” she said with a laugh. “She was the one with the most knowledge and experience. I’ve always admired my mom for everything she has done for me, and all of the things that she continues to do. Because of that, it made the two of us closer in a special way,” she adds.
Asking Milton what her greatest asset is, she replies, “I think it is compassion. I have so much compassion for the children and I love seeing the children get better. I have a lot of hope for the children and it is exciting when it all comes together and the children get to go home to be with their parents.”
For someone going into the medical field, Milton offers this advice. “If someone is interested in a job in the medical field, persue it. Yes, it is going to be hard and frustrating at times, and emotionally draining when you least expect it, and you might even wonder what you have gotten yourself into but stick with it. Nursing school was hard and other jobs in the medical field are even harder but set a goal and reach that goal. Believe me, in the long run, it is well worth it.”
“How would you describe yourself?” I ask Milton. “I am a quiet person and reserved a big part of the time. Being compassionate is a real plus for me and the children here are a big part of my life. I love helping the children and it is a blessing to see them get better. I am a hard worker and put my all into everything I always get the job done.” “What inspires you to keep going?” I ask Milton. Without hesitation, she replies, “Oh, it is definitely my faith. My faith inspires me and keeps me going.” Milton tells me that the most important thing in her life is faith, God, and family. “I love my life and I thank God for everything. I feel very blessed.” Asking Milton what the last book she read was, she replies, “The Bible.”
“What makes a good team-player?” I ask Milton. “I think a good team-player needs to be someone that will listen to everything, no matter what. A team-player needs to do their job and go beyond what they are expected to do, never expecting anything in return. They should set some goals and strive to reach those goals. They need to remember to do what is best for the child. Everyone on the team should continue on. That is success.”
Milton’s hobbies include, volleyball, running, spending time with her family and cooking. “I used to play volleyball so much but now, I don’t really have the time. I have always enjoyed spending time with my family.” “Do you have a favorite childhood memory?” I ask Milton. “Oh, I would have to say it was, camping with my family. We would go camping, fishing and canoeing. It was such a great time.”
“If you were going to give someone some words to live by, what would they be?” I ask Milton. “It would be, ‘Follow God and serve Him in everything you do.’”

0 1228
Megan Spradlin, Advanced practice nurse.

Advanced practice nurse joins Mercy Clinic Primary Care Edmond Memorial


Megan Spradlin always suspected medicine would be a good career fit, but a hospital stay 12 years ago confirmed her suspicions.
“During that confusing, frightening time, there were nurses on staff who answered my questions, assuaged my fears and partnered in my care,” she said. “I thought, ‘How fulfilling that must be to be able to provide such care and comfort to a person in need.’”
The following semester, Spradlin enrolled in the nursing program at the University of Central Oklahoma, graduating in 2009. She obtained a doctorate of nursing practice, with an emphasis on family medicine, from Oklahoma City University in 2014.
She began working as an advanced practice registered nurse at Mercy Clinic Primary Care Edmond Memorial May 11.
Spradlin said she chose family medicine because it allows her to care for people throughout their lives, holistically. She wants to offer her patients “comfort, reassurance and hope.”
“I would like to show that I take the time to consider the many different factors that influence the overall health and well-being of a patient,” she said. “My wish is to have patients reach their goals, and having the ability and training to help them get there is a wonderful blessing to me.”
Spradlin knows many of her patients may not understand the role of an advanced practice nurse, particularly one with a doctorate.
“It is a different path from becoming a physician, which is why we are able to complement each other in the health care setting,” she said.
To schedule an appointment with Megan Spradlin, call Mercy Clinic Primary Care Edmond Memorial at 405-341-7009.

0 1343
Tina Burkhalter combines years of experience in her role as the admissions and marketing nurse at Baptist Village in Oklahoma City.


by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer

Tina Burkhalter is likely to be one of the first persons a patient or family member will meet when choosing skilled nursing at Baptist Village of Oklahoma City. Burkhalter, a licensed practical nurse, is the admissions and marketing nurse at Baptist Village.
“We take pride in what we do. We take care of the patients very well. You don’t have to wait very long when you turn the call light on,” she said.
Twenty years ago after graduating from Metrotech, Burkhalter began her nursing career and was hired at Baptist Village 16 years ago and works in the skilled nursing part of the village.
“I started out as a CNA and graduated up to a CMA here at Baptist Village,” Burkhalter said. “Twenty-five years ago I worked here as a CNA, worked here for two years, quit and did something else, then went to nursing school.”
A lot has kept her dedicated to patient care in the community through the years.
“We’re doing the culture change. We’re trying to make it feel more like home,” she said. “We treat people the way we want to be treated and make it feel more like home than an institution or a spa.”
She receives referrals from physicians who send patients for rehabilitation in her admissions role.
“I go out and do assessments at the hospital, meet with family members and answer any questions,” she said. “I’ll verify Medicare and insurance benefits.
She gets to know some of the families very well. Some patients have come for skilled nursing as far away as Texas and Tulsa, she said.
A new addition has taken place at Baptist Village with it’s new state-of-the-art rehabilitation building.
The rehab center has 50 beds for post-acute patients who have been hospitalized but are not quite ready to return home. The total bed count at Baptist Village is 120.
So the new rehab enables the care center to reach out to a younger population of patients who may have had orthopedic surgeries and other procedures. Skilled nursing involves short-term stays at Baptist Village.
“Their goal is therapy and rehab with the goal to go home,” said Michelle Billings, RN, administrator. The health care center is the home where the residents have chosen to live.
“We are a part of their family in their home,” Boyd continued. “In the rehab side, they have specific goals in mind. They don’t want to make us their home. They want to get to their home wherever that is.”
It is Burkhalter who will do all the paper work when a patient arrives at Baptist Village. She will place all the orders for their medications. Burkhalter will notify the patient’s physician that there is an admission, she said, and update the floor nurse that she has a new patient that day.
Her LPN career at Baptist Village began as a floor nurse on the long-term care side of the spacious community. From there she entered the realm of wound care nursing. She was a skilled nursing coordinator, and handled the minimum data set requirements for each patient.
She said changes in federal law regulations for skilled nursing have caused hospitals to discharge patients too soon. Some patients will enter skilled nursing and a day or two later will have to go back to the hospital for further care, she said.
All of her experience through the years has culminated into her high individual performance standard she adheres to each day.
“What inspired me was watching my grandmother take care of my grandfather,” Burkhalter said. “He was really sick after he retired. And then I just wanted to be a nurse and take care of sick people. I have all my prerequisites done for my RN requirements. I just have to go back and finish.”
Baptist Village tries to keep familiar staff members in a neighborhood so the patients and the staff form a bond, she said. This makes it easier for the nursing staff to notice changes in a patient’s health that could indicate a health problem, she continued.
“I like taking care of people that need healthcare,” Burkhalter said.
Noboby has to live at Baptist Village in order to enter its rehab facility. Baptist Village sets an age requirement of 55 or older, and for the skilled nursing unit, Medicare Part A or private insurance that the village networks with must be in place, she said.
“They come here for rehab. Therapy is Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” Burkhalter explained. “We get a lot of stroke patients after knee replacements, hip replacements and shoulder surgery. You name it, we do it.”
They can stay up to 100 days in skilled nursing. Medicare pays 100 percent of the cost for the first 20 days of admission. Medicare will pay for 80 percent of the cost for the remaining 80 days, she explained.
“Depending on what kind of Medicare supplement they have, most of them pick up the other 20 percent,” she said. “And then we take Medicaid, too. Medicaid pays for skilled.”
Outside of work, Burkhalter has a 5-year-old son at home. They play ball together outside.
“I like to read science fiction. I like to do crafts.”
Burkhalter said she takes pride in the nursing staff for their listening skills. Nurses visit and at times will eat their meals with their patients.
She has witnessed a lot of positive outcomes as a nurse.