by Vickie Jenkins, Staff Writer
The Oklahoma City Indian Clinic was established in 1974 and is a nonprofit organization that provides a wide variety of behavioral health and pharmacy related services primarily for Native Americans.
Kathleen Gray, RN has been a nurse for over twenty-two years. She is the Oncology Case Manager at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. She was also the first American Indian Nurse Navigator in Oklahoma. She is the only nurse that works in Oncology at the OKC Indian Clinic. “I go through the whole cancer process with the patient; From the minute they come in to have tests done, to hearing the news, good or bad, to being with them through to the end. If they need medications or going through radiation treatments to chemo, I am here for them and I know that I am a big comfort to them in so many ways,” she commented.
Born in Oklahoma, Kathleen went to school at Rose State College. Her first job as a nurse was at OU Trauma Center. “I couldn’t believe that was my first job as a new nurse. There were so many critical things going on. We would listen to the news about a shooting, etc. and the next thing we knew, we were working on that patient. I liked the unexpected, never knowing who or what we would see. I am so glad that I was at OU Trauma Center because it was definitely a learning hospital. I didn’t realize at the time, that job prepared me for my job in Oncology. I look back now and think to myself, how did I manage all of the chaos and that trauma?” Kathleen laughed.
Kathleen told me why she likes working at the Indian Clinic. “My mother is full blood Muskogee Creek Indian and my dad was Caucasian. Since I am half Creek Indian, I can relate to the patients and they can relate to me. They trust me.”
“When I was a little girl, if my dad got a splinter, I would help him take care of it. My dad always said, Kathleen, you are my little nurse.” Asking Kathleen what she wanted to be when she was little, she said, a nurse. “I loved playing with dolls and taking care of them. Believe it or not, I actually tore apart the dolls, doing my version of surgery, only to put them back together with tape, glue and Band-Aids. My younger brother had a Stretch Armstrong and as he stretched it out as far as it would go, I grabbed my scissors and cut it right in two. I just had to find out what was on the inside and how did Stretch Armstrong stretch that way? I’m sorry to say, good ole Stretch Armstrong did not survive. It’s really funny how l was so into dolls. Literally.”
Asking Kathleen to describe herself she said, “I like to take care of people. I love adventure and I am not afraid to try new things,” she replied.
What qualities make a good nurse? “A nurse has to be compassionate and be able to multi-task. They need to be sensitive to their patients’ feelings and expect the unexpected,” Kathleen said.
“The biggest challenge for me is explaining to the patient that they have some kind of cancer and telling them how to take care of themselves; a lot of them don’t fully understand how to follow the steps to getting better or not showing up for their appointment. Sometimes, it can be such a struggle,” she said.
Kathleen is married to her wonderful husband, John and they have two sons; Tyler – thirty and his wife Kelly, and son Elliott who is twenty-four. They also have two grandchildren, Kyson – ten and Ava -three. Their four-legged family friends consist of a Chinese Pug named Luther, a Rottweiler, Roxy, a terrier named Bella and a cat that goes by the name Wahoo.
When not working at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic or spending time with her family, Kathleen likes to garden. “I love to plant flowers, watching them blossom from nothing into something beautiful. With me working in oncology, I see a lot of death. I feel like if I plant something it is my way of showing new life beginning,” she said with a smile.
Kathleen’s favorite Bible verse is: Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20 NIV
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Nurses Week to Be Celebrated May 6-12
By Jane Nelson, CAE
Nurses need to celebrate! May 6 – 12th is the week that is designated to recognize and celebrate the work Nurses do every day, 24/7. We hope you will begin the week off wearing your “RN pin” on May 6th in honor of RN Recognition Day and finish the week celebrating Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12th. Nurses need to celebrate! May 6 – 12th is the week that is designated to recognize and celebrate the work Nurses do every day, 24/7. We hope you will begin the week off wearing your “RN pin” on May 6th in honor of RN Recognition Day and finish the week celebrating Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12th. This year’s theme is 4 Million Reasons to Celebrate, giving a nod to the sheer numbers of nurses that enrich the world we live in. I realize that there is much to do in the way of safe staffing, patient safety, workplace violence. However, it is important to look back and see what has been accomplished and enjoy it. Let’s take a minute, step back and think about what you do have to celebrate, consider the following:· Let’s celebrate nurses’ commitment to addressing many public health challenges to transform health care to focus on health and wellness, in addition to illness care. · Let’s celebrate nurses’ commitment to delivering culturally competent care and increasing diversity and inclusion in nursing.
· Let’s celebrate nurses’ ground-breaking work as researchers, executives, educators and innovators on national and global initiatives. · Let’s celebrate nurses’ ground-breaking work as researchers, executives, educators and innovators on national and global initiatives. · Let’s celebrate nurses’ influence in shaping health policy decisions that ensure all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage. · Let’s celebrate nurses’ role as a trusted advocate to ensure that individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations receive quality patient care and services. · Let’s celebrate nurses’ voice on important issues like immunization, health behaviors, natural disaster preparedness, education, and violence prevention.· Let’s celebrate nurses’ leadership in their organizations, on boards of directors and as elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. · Let’s celebrate nurses’ stories of strength, resilience and determination while navigating an ever-changing and complex health care landscape. · Let’s celebrate nurses’ ranking as the professionals with the highest honesty and ethical standards for the last 17 consecutive years. These results underscore the deep trust that the public has in nurses. So this week as you celebrate Nurses Week consider how you can make a difference in your life and in the life of your patients. Let ONA know how we can help you and other nurses advocate for change. ONA works to advocate for nurses, the profession and your patients, but we need to hear from you to know your needs first hand. Let’s Celebrate Nurses Week!About ONA’s Chief Executive Officer—Jane Nelson, CAE was named the CEO of the Oklahoma Nurses Association in March 2002. She has more than 30 years of association management and marketing experience with a variety of organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a master’s degree from Michigan State University. Nelson is a member of the American Society of Association Executives and the Oklahoma Society of Association Executives.