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Carol Garrison, RN, BSN, IBC/LC serves as the OB Director at AllianceHealth Clinton.

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

For the life of her, Carol Garrison, RN, BSN, IBC/LC still can’t figure out what she’s doing as the OB Director at AllianceHealth Clinton.
“Dumb luck,” Garrison laughed. “Somebody must have made a mistake.”
One thing the second-career nurse is sure of is that no matter what the reason, she’s not leaving anytime soon.
This January will mark two years since Garrison hired on in Clinton.
It’s been a culmination of one twist after another, several leaps of faith and a willingness to pursue her own happiness.
And it’s also been a result of leadership recognizing Garrison has something special that she’s able to share not only with patients but everyone around her.
Garrison left home early and had a child. She quickly realized raising a daughter, earning a living and going to college didn’t really go hand in hand.
So she became a hairdresser.
She was talking with her husband one night when he asked her the question that would change her life.
What would you do if you weren’t cutting hair?
A few weeks later, the answer bubbled up in the 34-year-old from somewhere deep down inside.
“I remember saying to my husband ‘guess what I did today,’” Garrison said recalling a later dinner conversation when she broke the news that she had enrolled in nursing school. “I remember thinking, what if I don’t pass. He’s going to be investing in me all this money and that thought process continued with me until graduation day.”
Garrison graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University School of Nursing in 2011.
“I had no idea what I was getting into but I loved it,” she said. “I loved school.”
Her first job was at Great Plains Regional Medical Center in Elk City working OB.
She spent five years there and “loved every minute.”
“Being in OB, I realized that in nursing school they don’t teach you about lactation,” she said. “The nurses in Elk City were great but nobody really knew about lactation.”
That’s when she decided to take her career a step further and earn her IBC/LC certification and became a lactation nurse.
That transitioned into being a PRN lactation consultant in Elk City. For two days a week she taught new mothers how to breastfeed.
But she really missed labor and delivery.
With no full-time role available in Elk City she set her sights back to Clinton
“I had lived there. That’s where my salon was,” Garrison said. “People were so good to me when I was doing hair and I felt like people there were my family.”
So she interviewed for a PRN position at AllianceHealth Clinton.
The night before her interview she got cold feet and almost picked up the phone to say she wouldn’t be showing up.
“I didn’t think that was a very nice thing to do,” she said.
So she came to the interview and Chief Nursing Officer Kim Todd had a proposition.
There was a director position available.
“I was truly floored,” Garrison said. “I told her I didn’t think so but she asked me to think about it.”
The opportunity was too good to pass up so Garrison accepted but only on an interim basis.
She wound up lasting longer than the “interim” title did and moved back full-time to Clinton.
“There were only two full-time nurses when I got here. The rest were agency,” she said. “It was a pretty big assignment to transition out our agency nurses but I’m proud to say all of my positions are now full-time staff.”
Garrison has 13 nurses to cover three LDRP beds, four postpartum rooms and one triage room. The hospital delivers anywhere from 17 to 30 babies each month.
And her staff continues to amaze her each and every day.
“I couldn’t make it without them,” she said. “We’re very small and rural but these girls are awesome. They have faced more challenges than any nurses I’ve ever encountered. Everyone of them stepped up.”
Attracting OB nurses to a rural hospital is a constant challenge, maybe because of what many think rural medicine is all about.
“When I bring people on the unit, even one of my old coworkers they all have the same response – ‘Wow, this is really nice,’” Garrison said. “I don’t know if they think it’s going to be a MASH unit here in Western Oklahoma or what.”
What it is, is a group of dedicated nurses.
It’s a CNO that scrubs in when there’s three mothers trying to deliver at once.
It’s CEO Cameron Lewis standing at the nurses’ station and asking if there’s anything Garrison’s nurses need when they’re stretched thin.
“We all just kind of jump in and help each other out and do what we can,” she said. “It’s a great environment and great teamwork.”
And with all that Garrison realizes that it’s more than just dumb luck she’s where she’s at.

AllianceHealth Clinton
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AllianceHealth Midwest’s Kim Peterson ran the Boston Marathon earlier this year.

story and photos by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

A few years back, Kim Peterson faced the classic mid-life crisis.
Bad marriage, bad health, altogether bad outlook on life.
So she truly had reached a crossroads.
Option one was to continue down the path she knew for what she already had.
Option two was make some radical changes and roll the dice and see what happens down the road.
Peterson quite literally sprinted down that road and hasn’t looked back, finishing the Boston Marathon earlier this year and securing a new lease on life.
“(Running) has improved my health, my mood and every part of my life,” Peterson said. “I have more patience, more tolerance. I feel better and when you feel better you interact with others better. You see the world more optimistically. I can turn any negative into a positive.”
That’s a plus for anyone but particular someone in her line of work. Peterson is a licensed alcohol drug counselor with a mental health endorsement who has worked for AllianceHealth Midwest more than five years.
She’s the longest-tenured mental health counselor in the building.
Searching and hoping for change she began running.
She started with 5k runs for the first couple years.
Her sister, who worked for 7-11, called to ask if she wanted to run in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
The options were 5K, 10K and half marathon.
“Being a smart aleck I said ‘I’ll do the half marathon if you will,’” she said. “She signed us up so I had to start training.”
Peterson had no idea how to train for a distance of 13.1 kilometers, which translates to slightly more than eight miles.
She just ran it. And she’ll be the first to tell you she botched it.
“I hit the wall,” she said. “I didn’t get anything to eat or drink and that is an amazing experience. I think it might be worse than a heart attack. I finished and I remember laying on the asphalt … I was crying and I thought I was going to die.”
She had depleted pretty much every electrolyte in her body.
And she almost depleted her will to ever run again.
It took her a couple months for her mistake to really set in.
She thought maybe she could prepare differently.
So she decided to try another run.
“Then I got addicted to them,” said Peterson, who was an All-State runner at Western Heights growing up. “I started getting pretty decent then I ran a full marathon.”
Coalgate was the site of her first marathon.
The mud-covered course was laid out over a mustang ranch.
She’ll never forget the herds of wild mustangs that ran beside her. For nearly two hours she was as free as they were.
She’s been hooked on the adrenaline ever since.
Earlier this year she tackled the vaunted Boston Marathon.
The trip resulted in a personal record time.
“Probably one of the things that stood out to me was the amount of Olympians that were there … it was just amazing,” she said.
Running hasn’t been the only change she made.
She decided to enter a bikini contest.
“I just get craziness in my head,” Peterson laughed. “I want to practice what I preach to patients. I always tell them not to limit themselves. If you want to set your mind to do something do it. Every day things happen that I don’t believe. I never would have believed I could have run a half marathon.”
“You couldn’t have told me I would put on a bikini and get on a stage and I got a fourth-place trophy.”
Now Peterson is a fit, fabulous and fetching woman in charge of her life who inspires others every single day.
She’s become the official health mascot among hospital employees. Everyone wants to know what she’s eating for lunch that day or what she’s going to do after work.
It’s no strange occurrence for Peterson to get up and run eight miles. She averages 30 miles a week. Her next goal is to run first place in her age-group at next April’s Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
“Anybody in the hospital who wants to get on a health kick, whoever wants to do it I’m more than willing to help them,” said Peterson, who is also a certified equine therapist.
And Peterson is living proof that sometimes a crossroads in life can be the opportunity for something amazing.

AllianceHealth Midwest
Small but BIG.
Small enough to care about you,
big enough to care for you!
We are hiring!
· Clinical Educator – Master’s in nursing and critical care experience required
· Emergency RN’s
· Med/Surg RN’s
· Telemetry RN’s
· Surgery RN’s
· Psych RN’s
We’re interviewing December RN graduates for our new grad nurse program!

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Stephanie Harris has changed countless lives in her career as a public health care case manager. The Oklahoma City RN works to encourage patients to get breast and colon cancer prevention screenings.


by Traci Chapman – staff writer/photographer

For Stephanie Harris, choosing a nursing position at Oklahoma City Indian Clinic was all about honoring her heritage and how much it is a part of everything she’s done.
“I wanted to get back to why I became a nurse,” Harris said. “I watched my grandmother and how important our heritage was, how much that was a part of who she was and everything she did, and I wanted to honor that and reach back into my native roots.”
Harris didn’t begin at OKC Indian Clinic. First, she began working as a nurse at Oklahoma City Public Schools. For two years, she tended to students’ everyday health issues and challenges. It was something she said she enjoyed, but it just didn’t fulfill what she wanted to do in her nursing career, she said.
“I think a lot of people don’t really know what school nursing is all about – it’s not like you’re sitting there waiting to put a band aid on a student or calling their parents because they have a fever,” Harris said. “You really are monitoring what can be life-threatening conditions, and there’s a lot of education that goes into it, too.”
But, that still didn’t fulfill the vision Harris had for her career. Then, one day, the young nurse learned of a position that was everything she’d dreamed of – something that could help people in what she felt was a significant way, while honoring her own native heritage.
That job was as a public health breast care case manager at Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. Working to assist women with mammograms was only the start of what she did.
“A lot of it is about educations, to encourage women to get screenings, to let them know how important it is to follow through with that,” Harris said. “Our goal is to have 1,400 women a year get a mammogram.”
That’s more challenging than it might sound – and it takes Harris’s nursing far beyond anything she ever expected, she said.
“There is a ton of outreach – we do things like going to health fairs, we work with the Indian Alliance for education and resources, and we have a grant through Avon’s Pink Glory program,” Harris said.
Pink Glory is a $48,000 grant awarded to the Central Oklahoma American Indian Health Council Inc. – which oversees Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. The grant is part of a massive breast health outreach effort by Avon, which provides millions of dollars in grants to help fund breast cancer research, prevention and education.
“It’s an invaluable resource for us,” Harris said. “It allows us to do so much to make sure Native American women are taking care of their health – and this is certainly one of the most important things they need to take care of.”
Harris and her fellow committee members meet monthly, brainstorming on ways to improve and expand their efforts, not only in breast screenings, but also in other health issues. Recently, a major focus for Harris and the group is colorectal cancer screenings, she said.
“The Native American population has a higher incidence of colorectal cancer, and we encounter multiple late-stage patients who are finally diagnosed at the emergency room,” Harris said. “We are working to really increase prevention or, at least, early detection, to we are working to increase knowledge about home testing, when possible, or colonoscopies.”
Unfortunately, Harris said many people are resistant to this type of screening, for some reason. Close to 3,000 OKC Indian Clinic patients at any one time are aged 50 to 75 and are due – or overdue – for a colonoscopy or home colorectal cancer test.
“This is an area where we’re really looking to increase awareness, where we really can make a difference,” Harris said. “It’s all about patient interaction, getting to know the patients.
“They get so they consider us their medical home,” she said. “It’s so nice to see them, to know they’re doing what they need to do to keep themselves healthy, and I think they really appreciate having us there for them.”
Like with breast screenings, colorectal cancer prevention entails a lot of work outside the clinic – working to get people in for needed screenings, Harris said.
“We work with them not only to get screened, but also afterwards, and when there’s a patient who does have cancer, we work to get them into support groups and set them up with an oncology case manager, once they’re diagnosed,” she said. “So many people in their 50’s have never been screened before – that’s an opportunity.”
That kind of opportunity, that kind of difference is why Harris became a nurse, she said.
“Being able to help people in a positive way, almost every day – well, that’s what it’s all about,” Harris said.

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More than 70 children from Positive Tomorrows, the state’s only elementary school specifically for homeless children, trick-or-treated at OMRF on Halloween.

Tuesday marked the 11th consecutive year OMRF and Positive Tomorrows have teamed up to bring smiles to the children’s faces.

One day a year at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, the quiet hum of laboratory equipment is replaced with the joyful sounds of little wizards, princesses, space explorers and superheroes.
It’s a stark contrast to the foundation’s normal visitors, but it’s always a welcome change as 70 trick-or-treaters from Positive Tomorrows parade down the halls for an afternoon full of treats, games and Halloween fun.
Tuesday marked the 11th consecutive year the nonprofits have teamed up to bring smiles to the children’s faces—and those of OMRF employees, too.
Positive Tomorrows is a nonprofit school dedicated to the education of the metro area’s homeless and at-risk youth. Positive Tomorrows development officer Rachel Durham said the annual Halloween trip to OMRF is something the kids always anticipate.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our kids are used to hearing the word ‘no,’ and this is a place where they hear ‘yes,’” said Durham. “Yes, you can have a costume. Yes, you can have candy. Yes, you can trick-or-treat. It just lights up their faces, and it means the world not only to the kids but also to the staff. Holidays can be tough for these families, and that makes this annual stop extra special for the kiddos.”
In keeping with tradition, each child’s costume was handmade by theatre students from Oklahoma City University’s Ann Lacy School of Dance and Arts Management.
Positive Tomorrows is the only elementary school in Oklahoma designed specifically for educating homeless children. Homelessness is a significant problem in Oklahoma, with more than 44,000 homeless children. The school takes a three-step approach to addressing the problem by focusing on education, providing family support, and removing barriers such as transportation, hunger and basic needs.
“This is an annual opportunity that we cannot pass up, and we’re delighted to be able to present them with a positive experience they can look forward to,” said OMRF Human Resources specialist Carlisa Curry. “This trick-or-treating tradition means a lot to all of us here, and seeing those smiles is just priceless.”

A Place to Serve and Grow
Nursing Career Opportunities
INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center, OKC
• ECMO RN Coordinator, FT, Days, ECMO (707218)
• Infection Preventionist Manager, (RN), FT, Nursing Quality (708085)
• Registered Nurse (RN), Per Diem 7p-7a, ICU Holds. 7 West Critical Care Stepdown (708023)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT Days 7a-7p, Intermediate med Surg Unit (708094)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT 7p-7a, Intermediate Care/Med Surg Liver Transplant Unit (708276)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7a-7p, Labor & Delivery (708312)
• Registered Nurse (RN), i-Flex Resources Pool $36/hr, FT, 7p-7a ICU Float Pool (706824)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7a-7p, 8 East IMC PCCU, Heart Hospital (707412)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7a-7p, 901 Coronary Care ICU, Heart Hospital (708326)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, Mon-Fri Day Shift, Cardiovascular Surgery (708103)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7p-7a, PICU (708075)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7p-7a, 6 East Orthopedics (707624)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7p-7a, Transplant ICU (708365)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7p-7a, Emergency Dept (708362)
• RN Transplant Associate Coord, FT, Days, Kidney/Pancreas Post Transplant (708258)
INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital, Yukon
• Clinical Nurse Manager (RN), FT, Med Surg Intermediate Care (708294)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT 7p-7a, i-Flex Resource (Yukon primary) $36/Hr (708176)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, nights, Women’s Center (708158)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7p-7a, ICU (708384)
INTEGRIS Health Edmond
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7p-7a, Med Surg (707883)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, Mon-Fri 11a-7:30p, PACU, Pre/Post Op & Endo (708147)
INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center
• Critical Need RN, temporary 16-week $50/hr, 7p-7a, Labor & Delivery (708067)
• RN Clinical Director, FT, Days, Labor & Delivery (708082)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7p-7a, Neuro Stroke & Telemetry (708108)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7p-7a, Oncology Med/Surg (708246)
• Registered Nurse (RN), FT, 7p-7a, Med Surg ICU (708077)
INTEGRIS Medical Group
• Manager of Care Coordination, FT (707879)
To view a complete job description and apply online, visit:
INTEGRIS considers all qualified applicants regardless of protected status as defined by applicable law, including protected veteran or disability status. AA/EOE

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Q. I told a co-worker that I think I am getting dementia because I can’t remember things, simple things like how to do everyday charting on the computer. Sometimes it seems difficult to process my thoughts. I would rate my stress level most days a 10 with 10 being so much stress I want to flee. I do not feel this way when I am away from my job.
What can I do? —- Jenny

A. Jenny here is some information that you might find very helpful:
Your body’s stress response is perfect in the short-term, but damaging if it goes on for days, weeks or longer. Raised levels of cortisol for prolonged periods can compromise your immune system and decrease the number of brain cells so impairing your memory. It can also affect your blood pressure and the fats in your blood making it more likely you will have a heart attack or stroke.
So, does stress kill brain cells?
The answer seems to be yes. Stress causes the release of cortisol. This hormone has been shown to damage and kill cells in the hippocampus (the brain area responsible for your episodic memory) and there is robust evidence that chronic stress causes premature brain aging.
Without cortisol you would die — but too much of it is not a good thing.
It’s quite clear that chronic stress is related to depression due to an excess release of cortisol into
the blood.
So with all this cortisol surging through the bodies of stressed out people and the truly damaging results; we need to make some changes.
These lyrics to Bob Dylan’s song, Things Have Changed give you something to think about. Is your job “potentially dangerous,” and “your mind can only stay healthy for so long,” and if you “are in a job that does not work for you”

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INTEGRIS broke ground Wednesday on the health care system’s first micro-hospital, which will be called INTEGRIS Community Hospital. It will be located at 3391 S. I-35 Service Road at the S. 34th Street intersection in Moore
“We chose Moore as our first such location for a variety of reasons. It is one of the fastest growing, most progressive, most resilient communities in Central Oklahoma,” said INTEGRIS President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Lawrence. “Also, we’ve owned this land since 2002.
We saw this area’s potential for growth and prosperity way back then and invested in 40 acres of land. We’ve just been waiting for the right project to come along and we believe this is the right project.”
Last October, INTEGRIS officials announced they would be working with Emerus to open small-scale, fully licensed inpatient hospital facilities in different quadrants of the metro, to bring high-quality care closer to home.
Each joint venture facility will be open 24-hours a day, seven days a week and will be equipped to respond to almost any medical issue a patient may present with; including those that may be life threatening or require complex, critical care.
Each will house between eight and 10 inpatient beds for observation and short-stay use, and include a similar number of emergency treatment and triage rooms, along with primary and specialty care physicians, diagnostic and other outpatient clinic services.
“What is a community hospital or a micro-hospital?” asked Vic Schmerbeck, the Executive Vice President of Business Development at Emerus. “We believe it’s a transformative concept that allows great health care systems like INTEGRIS to expand their reach further into communities by offering medical care in lower cost settings that are conveniently located where people live, work and play.”
While Wednesday’s groundbreaking was held at the future Moore location, it was meant to signify and celebrate all four of the community hospitals INTEGRIS plans to build in Central Oklahoma.
The three other planned locations are in Northwest Oklahoma City, Far West Oklahoma City and Del City. The Moore facility is scheduled to open in early 2019 and the remaining locations should be up and running by the end of that year. Additional INTEGRIS micro-hospitals could be on the horizon in the future.

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The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit health care ratings organization, today released new Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades. The Safety Grade assigns letter grades of A, B, C, D and F to hospitals nationwide based on their performance in preventing medical errors, infections and other harms. St. Anthony Hospital, including Bone and Joint Hospital at St. Anthony, was one of 832 awarded an “A” for its commitment to keeping patients safe and meeting the highest safety standards in the U.S.
“At St. Anthony and Bone and Joint Hospital at St. Anthony we have created a culture of safety. The safety of our patients is our number one priority, as we are committed to providing exceptional patient care to all who enter our doors,” said Tammy Powell, president of St. Anthony Hospital.
“It takes consistent, unwavering dedication to patients to achieve the highest standards of patient safety. An ‘A’ Safety Grade recognizes hospitals for this accomplishment,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “We congratulate the clinicians, Board, management and staff of St. Anthony Hospital for showing the country what it means to put patient safety first.”
Developed under the guidance of a Blue Ribbon National Expert Panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 27 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public.
To see St. Anthony Hospital’s full grade, and to access patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit www.hospitalsafetygrade.org and follow the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade on Twitter and Facebook.
Founded in 2000 by large employers and other purchasers, The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization driving a movement for giant leaps forward in the quality and safety of American health care. The flagship Leapfrog Hospital Survey collects and transparently reports hospital performance, empowering purchasers to find the highest-value care and giving consumers the lifesaving information they need to make informed decisions. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, Leapfrog’s other main initiative, assigns letter grades to hospitals based on their record of patient safety, helping consumers protect themselves and their families from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.

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A $300,000 donation from Mark Davenport helps bring gamma knife technology to Mercy Coletta Center. Pictured left to right are Mercy President Jim Gebhart, Mr. Mark Davenport, Mrs. Pat. R. Davenport, Mercy Vice President of Oncology Services Dr. Carla Kurkjian, and Mercy Health Foundation Board Chairman Kyle Sweet.

A cancer diagnosis can be a crippling blow, and the effects of the disease extend psychologically beyond the patient.
“I know a lot about the terror of the disease,” said Mark Davenport. “Although never a cancer patient, as a family member and a caregiver I know the emotional and spiritual toll it has on a person.”
So when Davenport saw an opportunity to make an impact for those needing highly specialized cancer treatment, he knew in his heart what to do. He recently made a $300,000 donation in honor of his mother and cancer survivor Pat R. Davenport to Mercy Health Foundation Oklahoma City to help fund gamma knife equipment.
Contrary to the name, gamma knife technology uses not a knife but 201 tiny beams of radiation to treat cancer with pin-point accuracy without damaging healthy tissue.
“We wanted to partner with Mercy because we envisioned bringing the very best in cancer care to one building and the Mercy Coletta Center fit our purpose,” Mark Davenport said. “Paired with Mercy’s exceptional doctors and staff, we feel we are bringing the best-in-class cancer treatment to Oklahoma.”
“Adding the gamma knife to Mercy’s scope of cancer treatment enhances our team-based approach to personalized care for our patients with complex needs,” explained Carla Kurkjian, MD, Mercy vice president of oncologist services. “We bring together neurosurgery, medical oncology and radiation oncology to deliver the best treatment plan with more efficiency and better accuracy.”
“Using gamma knife, many patients are treated in half the time of conventional methods,” Kurkjian added. “Every hour less spent here is an hour more spent with loved ones.”
And Pat R. Davenport emphasized the value of more time with loved ones saying, “It is an honor to have my name associated with a device that will change people’s lives for the better.”

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Pioneer Technology Center

Hosted by Pioneer Technology Center, 2101 N Ash St, Ponca City, Oklahoma 74601 Friday, November 10th at 6 PM – 8 PM. Reception following graduation. Come out and support this amazing class!