by Bobby Anderson, RN, Staff Writer
Growing up on the family farm, Brandon Steffens, RN, never saw a contractor’s truck pull up in the driveway.
No plumber, no electrician, no drywall guy and no painter ever set foot inside the house.
“I just grew up always working on the house with my dad. We never hired anything out,” Steffens said. “We did all the electrical, all the plumbing – whatever it was we did it ourselves.”
That work ethic carried the eventual float pool nurse through a seven-year stint with Home Depot and now to his current side business, Brandon’s Home Improvement.
Before he was working in the ICU and the ER, Steffens was plying the knowledge bestowed on him by his dad.
Elbow grease and a passion to make things better would make his dad proud.
Then nursing school and working with his hands took on a new meaning.
“People come to you in nursing in their worst states and it’s an emergency,” Steffens said, taking a break from an apartment remodel in Midwest City. “They’re dilapidated, sick or injured and we get the opportunity to put our hands on them and fix them and make things new again.”
Working nights four to five days a week for the past five years brought Steffens to a crossroads.
“Everyone told me to watch out, you’ll get burned out,” Steffens recalled. “I said ‘No, I wouldn’t’ but you get burned out.”
So Steffens decided to pour more of his time and talents into something else.
Being a contractor was a vocation he held before nursing. That took him into Home Depot, where he oversaw the entire local install business for the big box company.
Whether it be a sink or a door, a microwave or a dishwasher, Steffens was in charge of the contractors who carried out the work under Home Depot’s name.
It taught him even more about the business.
“I realized there is a huge need out there for people who just don’t know how to do home improvements or they didn’t have the time,” he said.
Or too often, they didn’t have a ton of money.
Home improvements are expensive. Steffens knows all too well the retail costs associated with a remodel.
And he knows the sizeable markup that goes with it.
Figuring things out and finding ways to save people a dollar are a challenge for him. Sometimes he challenges himself right out of a bigger check.
He showed up for a recent garage door opener install job one night. The customer had the new opener waiting for him in the box.
Steffens went up to unplug the old wire and noticed an electrical short.
“I saved him $400,” Steffens said. “I like that sense of accomplishment.”
For some reason Steffens’ specialty has always been tile. Projects that most contractors avoid like the plague, Steffens has a certain affinity.
“Most contractors shy away from it because it’s hard, lot of up and down and on your knees. That never bothered me,” he said. “I like the perfection of it, just to lay each piece of tile in a certain way. It’s kind of like art because you can do different things with tile that really finishes a house off.”
For Steffens, the business venture has been a source of freedom. It’s not a straight 12-hour gig, meeting sometimes unreasonable expectations with limited resources.
“I like the sense of accomplishment,” Steffens said. “In nursing, I talk to people all day long and doing home improvement I get a lot of alone time. I get to just lose myself in work for some time and get to be creative.”
“You go in and see something nasty and absolutely turn it around and make it new,” says Steffens, who has remodeled two of his own homes. “I like to touch every surface. I like when people come in to a house I’ve remodeled and every surface in that house has been touched by me.”
He admits he really hasn’t advertised since taking on more work.
He hasn’t had time.
“You do a good job and people tell people,” explained Steffens, who can be found on Facebook under Brandon’s Home Improvement. “People are always asking if you know anybody. It just snowballs from there.”
With four kids, age five, 10, 15 and 22 – Steffens has a full plate at home. But he’s already taken a couple of his kids along to start learning the trade.
“My 10-year-old has shown interest,” Steffens beamed. “He helped with carpentry on a door frame. He had all these wonderful better ideas how to fix it. There’s no science behind it.”
But there’s definitely an art.
And for now, the combination of science and art suits this nurse just fine.
Kathleen Dwyer, PhD, RN, was one of the 2018 Angel Award recipients at the annual Dr. Ruth Joyce Colbert Barnes Foundation, Inc. and the Oklahoma Sovereign Arts Foundation reception on November 3, 2018. The Angel Award acknowledges individuals who are unsung heroes and have given of themselves to affect positive changes in the lives of others. Dwyer was nominated and honored for her work to improve health outcomes in communities facing disparities.
“I’m pleased that Dr. Dwyer has received this well-deserved recognition. She’s widely recognized as an expert in community-based participatory research designed to improve the health of communities,” said Gary L. Loving, interim dean for the OU College of Nursing. Dr. Dwyer’s recent research work included an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funded study to improve health and eliminate urban health disparities in the state. The project partnered with multiple churches and a small urban school district to implement an individualized telephone-based health coaching program. Additionally, Dr. Dwyer has received a research grant as a part of the 2018 Stephenson Cancer Center pilot grants program for Care Coordination for Cherokee Nation Cancer Patients.
Nine Oklahoma hospitals recently received awards for providing excellence in perinatal care from the Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative. The awards were presented at the fifth annual summit of the collaborative in Oklahoma City. Approximately 215 providers of maternal and infant care came together at the event to discuss continued efforts to improve outcomes for Oklahoma mothers and babies, and to celebrate success from their ongoing work.
Hospitals receiving the “Spotlight Hospital Awards” were recognized for participation and sustained improvement in the areas of early elective deliveries (inducing labor and scheduling cesarean births before 39 weeks without a medical reason), education to prevent abusive head trauma (commonly known as shaken baby syndrome), modeling and promoting safe sleep practices, accurate newborn screening, creating an environment that is supportive of best practices in maternity care and breastfeeding, and being prepared for obstetrical emergencies (such as hemorrhage and preeclampsia) through training, guidelines and hospital resources.
Receiving hospital “Spotlight” awards were: Duncan Regional Hospital, INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital, Yukon, INTEGRIS Health Edmond, Lakeside Women’s Hospital, Oklahoma City, Saint Francis Hospital, Tulsa, SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital – Oklahoma City, SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital – Shawnee, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Enid and The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center, Oklahoma City.
Chad Smith, MD, medical director of the Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative, congratulated the hospitals saying, “Patient safety and quality improvement in women’s health have become top priorities nationally and for the state of Oklahoma. You have each demonstrated dedication to and excellence in improving the care of Oklahoma women and newborns. We have achieved momentum through your efforts, and together we can continue to drive change in a positive direction.”
In addition, Tracie Anderson, MS, director of the Perinatal Neonatal Program, OUHSC, Oklahoma City, received the Warren M. Crosby Champion for Maternal and Infant Health Award for going above and beyond to display exemplary effort to improve outcomes for mothers and babies in the local community and statewide.
Partners in the Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative include: March of Dimes, Oklahoma City-County Health Department, Tulsa Health Department, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Oklahoma Hospital Association, Oklahoma State Department of Health and County Health Departments, and University of Oklahoma Departments of OB/GYN and Pediatrics.
by Vickie Jenkins – Writer/Photographer
The Mission of Humanity Hospice is to provide comfort care that enhances the lives of individuals with a life-limiting illness and their families through dignity and compassion.
Meet Keisha Jackson, Owner and Administrator of Humanity Hospice. Outgoing and friendly, Keisha tells me that she has some exciting news to share. What is the exciting news? “Humanity Hospice is now going to have an app called Humanity Connect! This is the first and only app developed for Hospice; created to keep patients in contact with their families,” Keisha replies. “The Humanity Connect was made just for that reason.”
Keisha explained how Humanity Connect will help a patient and their family. “The patient would create a profile, along with a place to journal, posting their health care updates and inviting friends to join the page. This way, instead of a family member making 45 phone calls to update the status of a patient, one post would take care of many. This would relieve some of the burden of the patient’s family. Humanity Connect would allow a one-on-one update, spreading the word to all of those included. Their page will include a photo album, a place to post comments, an encouraging board for the friends and family to leave encouraging words and to wish the patient well. There will be a way to video chat with a nurse, face-to-face, being helpful, comforting and create piece of mind for patient and families. This app might be compared to Facebook and Timehop except this will be private. The only people to be added to the contact list would be added by the patient or a family member,” she said.
“When a patient comes to Hospice, the patient has a terminal illness and has less than 6 months to live. Humanity Hospice is there for the patient 24 hours, 7 days a week. We have three layers of nursing; the primary nurse, the back-up nurse and the administrative nurse. The nurses are available at all times which means faster and personal response,” Keisha commented. “Also, Medicare pays 100% of the hospital benefit,” she added.
Humanity Hospice has several different locations throughout Oklahoma. Humanity Connect will be available in each location; Ponca City, Edmond, Stillwater, Enid, Oklahoma City, Shawnee and Moore. Local team nurses are assigned to local patients for that location.
Let’s face it,…we are living in a world of social media junkies! From the baby boomers to the millennials, we have instant gratification from those devices we call cell phones. We use them constantly! We all want the simple answer NOW. Yes, our technology has changed. How many remember those strange things that came in the mail? You know, they were called letters. People actually sat down at a desk, grabbed their pen or pencil and began writing. Now, we just tell Siri or Alexa to do our job for us. How times have changed!
Caring for the patient and making their life a little better is what inspired Keisha Jackson to think of a vision to help Humanity Hospice. After much planning and the six members of the Hospice team, a new vision was set into motion. Finding the perfect local developer, Paradigm Creative in Stillwater, OK came into the picture. After working on this plan for months, making sure everything was working properly and putting the final touches on everything, Humanity Connect has been was established!
“I am excited for this new app, Humanity Connect. This app will be available with Apple and Android platforms and a desktop version. It will be helpful to all involved; the patient, caregiver and the family members. Another plus is the fact that even after your loved one has passed; the patient’s profile and their photo album will stay. Your loved one’s postings will be reserved, passing on precious memories,” Keisha replied.
Humanity Connect is bringing the patients comfort in their last days, allowing the patient to have that one-on-one conversation with family members, combining the last day of their lives and improving their quality of life.
“A lot of planning and hard work went into Humanity Connect. Our tag line at Humanity Hospice is Because YOU Matter,” she added. “It’s a way to keep the memories alive. Passing on the memories, grandchildren can look back and know a little about their loved ones life. Whatever I can do to make a patient’s journey easier, I’m going to do it,” Keisha commented.
If you have a loved one that is in need of Humanity Hospice, please call our office at 405.418.2530. We are located at 1109 N. Bryant, Edmond, OK, suite 100.
A special thank-you to Keisha Jackson for having a vision and following through! Humanity Connect has arrived!
SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital is pleased to announce Diane Gassett, Division Director, SSM Health Behavioral Health, as the recipient of the 2018 Excellence in Nursing Award.
The award recipient is chosen by the SSM Health St. Anthony medical staff for dedication to providing quality patient care and for adhering to the mission, vision and values of SSM Health St. Anthony.
Nurses follow a code of ethics which requires them to promote health, to prevent illness, to restore health and to alleviate suffering. Inherent in nursing is respect for human rights, including cultural rights, the right to life and choice, to dignity and to be treated with respect. Nurses render care to the individual, the family and the community.
Gassett is division director at SSM Health St. Anthony South; she began her service at SSM Health St. Anthony 38 years ago.
Good oral hygiene prevents cavities. Now, new research suggests it may also make a difference in preventing and managing lupus and other diseases.
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists Umesh Deshmukh, Ph.D., and Harini Bagavant, Ph.D., have found a link between gum disease and lupus, an autoimmune disease.
“Our findings suggest a simple message: If there is good dental care, patients have a good chance of experiencing less severe disease,” said Bagavant. “With further research, we might be able to tell if proper oral health has the potential to help prevent these diseases altogether.”
At OMRF, Bagavant and Deshmukh study the effect of oral health in lupus, a disease that strikes an estimated 1.5 million Americans. The scientists’ research focuses on bacteria commonly found in the mouth that have been associated with gum disease.
“Our study shows that patients who might have been exposed to gum disease causing bacteria show higher lupus activity. Therefore, we expect that a seemingly small change, like brushing and flossing regularly, could benefit patients who are already on a host of powerful medications by allowing them to modify their treatment with fewer drugs or less powerful dosages,” she said. “And fewer drugs can mean fewer side effects.”
Deshmukh said the new findings provide strong rationale for improving dental care in lupus patients as an add-on to traditional therapy. The research could also lead to new methods of early disease detection.
He emphasized that the findings could have implications beyond lupus. “Poor oral health can contribute to a number of diseases,” said Deshmukh. “Taking care of your teeth now could help you avoid type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.”
A husband-and-wife research team, Deshmukh and Bagavant joined OMRF from the University of Virginia in 2013. Since then, they’ve worked with OMRF clinicians to observe the effects of mouth bacteria on disease in different patient populations.
“It needs to be a priority to better educate people on the importance of good dental care,” said Bagavant. “These results indicate that just being seen regularly by a dentist, taking care of your gums and managing plaque can benefit your health in significant ways over time.”
The findings were published in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. Funding for the project was provided by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST).
How do you want your patients to remember you? Oklahoma Nurses Association Annual Convention
Easy, as somebody they can trust, laugh with and someone they know will save their life.
Luke Richardson-Walker, RN
As someone who didn’t just work on them but worked for them.
Marcus Kesler, RN
As someone who cared about them as an individual.
Rhonda Farris, RN
As caring and authentic to them.
Regina Ketts, APRN
Q. I am a health care provider and I am very concerned with all the pharmaceutical drugs being advertised on TV. I worry that people will believe everything they see and hear in the commercial and dump more money into this industry that is failing us in so many ways. These are some of my concerns. —- Rhonda
A. I don’t know how many readers have paid close attention to these frequently run drug commercials. It is crazy to think that drugs are being advertised on TV…..really?
It is highly unlikely that any of these drugs will make you sing,dance or ace a game of volleyball but you would never know it if you fell for the message in the commercial. Notice how the speaker enunciates very clearly until he gets to the side affects of the drug. Then suddenly he has a manic episode, his speech is pressured and barely audible. The last thing you think you heard is something about coma and possible death. But with those butterflies and beautiful surroundings who focuses on being in a coma.
So ok, you think one of these drugs might help you. You talk to your doctor, who also thinks this drug might help your symptoms and he writes a prescription. Now the scary part. You pull into the pharmacy parking lot with your prescription in hand. The pharmacy tech takes over while you wait. Your name is called and you are told you owe $475.00 after insurance has paid their part. Now you have symptoms related to finding out the pharmaceutical industry is raping you.
So what has happened? You watch a commercial for a new drug with people who are smiling big, some are singing, dancing, growing beautiful flowers and don’t forget the butterflies and maybe the ocean. These are happy people taking their new drug. Who wouldn’t want to smile big and grow beautiful flowers.
So now your hooked. Your doctor writes the prescription. The pharmacist tells you the price. You announce he can keep the drug because there is no way you can pay for it unless you stop eating. Or another issue………Maybe your doctor gives you samples of the new drug and you find it does help your symptoms. But when you are told it will cost $475 after your samples are gone, what is the point.
I was personally given a prescription for a skin cream, with a coupon because the doctor told me it might be expensive. When I went to pick up the prescription the pharmacy tech had a strange look on his face when he told me the small tube of cream was $1042 after the coupon!!
Be cautious. Pay attention to the side affects listed for these drugs. If you can make behavioral or life changes, try that first. Your health and your money are at risk.
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at email@example.com