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SMH Enters Management Contract with NHS

Northeastern Health System (NHS), Tahlequah, recently partnered with Sequoyah Memorial Hospital (SMH), Sallisaw, soon to be re-branded as Northeastern Health System Sequoyah. This agreement will maintain the small-town values and community model that patients have come to love and respect. The agreement will have many benefits for both facilities, including the knowledge and experience of Julie Ward, who will serve as NHS Sequoyah’s CEO.

Ward brings more than 20 years of rural healthcare experience, having worked at Northeastern Health System since 1995, in which time she earned her CPA and worked her way up to Vice President of Finance. Her ties to Sallisaw and the surrounding communities run deep. She lived right across the street from the hospital, graduated from Northeastern State University, and currently lives in Vian.

“I am very excited for this opportunity,” said Ward. “Continuing to remain profitable in today’s environment is the biggest challenge all hospitals face. My heart is in this community and I am excited to bring the knowledge I have gained at NHS to NHS Sequoyah.”

With the change in payment plans from Medicare and Medicaid, as well as higher insurance deductibles, many smaller healthcare facilities are finding it difficult to maintain a positive bottom line. Partnering with larger health systems is often a way to continue offering services in rural settings.

“We want patients in our surrounding communities to have the best care possible,” said Brian Woodliff, NHS President and CEO. “We can help bring new services and specialties to SMH, while maintaining small–town values that are unique to our management style. This is a win for everyone.”

The agreement will allow NHS Sequoyah to maintain full ownership and governance of the hospital, while taking advantage of the many services offered by NHS.

“My goal is to help NHS Sequoyah secure funding, provide access to many specialty services, provide upgraded benefits to employees and save money by purchasing supplies with NHS’s buying power,” said Ward.

In addition to other joint ventures, NHS Sequoyah will be able to take advantage of the close relationship between the Cherokee Nation and NHS, including Cherokee Health Partners (CHP), a joint venture between NHS and Cherokee Nation. CHP offers a variety of cardiac and nuclear medicine options for patients who would otherwise have to travel an hour or more away to receive these services.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

Stout Named NHS Director of the Year

Northeastern Health System recently named Director of Patient and Public Relations, Erielle Stout, as the 2017 Department Director of the Year. Stout was chosen from among more than 50 qualified directors for her strong work ethic and commitment to the health system, as well as for the results of her work.

“Erielle always exemplifies leadership and commitment,” said Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “She doesn’t look to the left or right to see who is with her. She decides that she is all in and welcomes those who want to work on that task with her. If she’s the only one then she is ok doing it on her own.”

One of Stout’s job responsibilities is improving the patient satisfaction, or HCAHPS, scores. Through her work with patients, their family members, and the staff, HCAHPS overall scores at NHS improved by almost 20 percent in the past year and a half.

“We believe this increase is a direct result of the changes we made by creating a Public Relations and Patient Satisfaction position, filled by Erielle,” said Berry. “She works closely with all departments throughout the hospital to make sure we are exceeding patient expectations at all times. She makes daily customer service rounds to speak with patients, their family members and staff, in an effort to manage the expectation of care for patients and talking up the various departments reflected on the survey.”

Stout began her career with NHS, then known as Tahlequah City Hospital, in 2012. She served as a nurse aide on the Medical/Surgical Unit before moving to the clerk position on the same unit. She was then promoted to the Business Development department, serving as an Event and Volunteer Coordinator and later named as Director of Patient and Public Relations.

“Erielle simply has a desire to make things better for everyone involved,” said VP of Patient Care, Donna Dallis. “She is a hard worker and is dedicated to the facility.”

“I feel so honored to be named the director of the year,” said Stout. “I have had the privilege of wearing multiple hats at Northeastern Health System and have always looked up to the leadership of the facility. To think that I am considered to be one of them now, and get this award, is the highest compliment from my peers and administration.”

Stout has served in her current role for only two years, but they have been a very busy two years. In addition to raising the HCHAPS scores, she has successfully implemented the re-branding process of the hospital from Tahlequah City Hospital to Northeastern Health System. She created a social media presence for NHS including the growth of the Facebook page from 17 page followers to more than 7,100 page followers in less than a year and a half. She assisted with the production of commercials that had the opportunity to run during the Olympics, and initiated geo-fencing and re-targeting with YP and Google, allowing online viewers to turn into actual patients (over 1 million impressions a month).

Stout also plans and organizes the Health System’s annual Hearts of Gold Gala, which raises more than $1.2 million to go towards student scholarships.

“It still feels like I need to pinch myself every now and then due to the fact that I get paid to do what I love to do,” said Stout. “We have the best of the best working at NHS and it is an honor to call them my work family.”

Experts Advise Adding Nurses to Hospital Boards

A recent article in “Trustee Magazine,” suggests adding a nurse to a hospital board of trustees is an often overlooked position. With 3.6 million nurses in the United States, only 5 percent of hospital trustees are nurses. Northeastern Health System falls within that five percent with the addition of Nurse Carol Choate, who has served on the hospital board of trustees for 15 years.

“Nurses have a comprehensive understanding of patient care that helps drive decision making, whether it be about quality, finance or outcomes,” said VP of System Clinical Operations at NHS, Amy Williams. “As healthcare continues to evolve, it is important to have a collaborative approach, and nurses must have a seat at the table.”

The contributions nurses make as board members in hospitals are quantifiable. “A University Health System Consortium analysis found a correlation between the number of nurse trustees at hospitals and better performance in both quality and safety. Having a nurse on the board also creates a work environment that leads to higher retention rates for staff nurses.

“Staff level clinical representation is valuable,” said NHS VP of Patient Care, Donna Dallis. “Carol is able to look at it from the board, the hospital, the community and the staff’s perspective.”

The traditional board makeup has leaned heavily on trustees with financial backgrounds, such as bankers and business executives. But that focus on the balance sheet and developing new lines of business has needed adjustment over the past decade as payers such as Medicare and many large insurers have begun demanding quality-of-care information and improvement. Nurses, who spearhead many quality improvement initiatives, are also tied intrinsically to both staff and patient satisfaction.

“I believe Carol’s knowledge and experience influences the decisions that are made by the board,” said Williams. “She is an advocate for patient care and community health.   As chair of our Board Quality Assurance committee, she can advocate for programs that contribute to the wellness of our patients and employees.”

Choate’s fifty years of nursing experience are an invaluable tool to the NHS board, as she has worked for many of the organizations the health system partners with. She has worked for W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital, Northeastern Health System, the Cherokee County Health Department, Northeastern State University where she taught nursing, and now as the Cherokee County Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Healthy Living Program grant coordinator for the Cherokee County Health Services Council.

For Choate, making a difference in the health of her community continues to drive her nursing career.

“Being a nurse for fifty years, I have taken care of patients suffering from preventable diseases due to tobacco use and obesity. The health of every Oklahoman can be improved through preventing and reducing cancer and cardiovascular disease through the reduction of tobacco use, addressing physical inactivity, poor nutrition and obesity,” said Choate. “The only way you can change population health is through changing the environment through policy change. Those policies include Tobacco Free Environments, increased opportunity for physical activity and access to healthy foods.”

Choosing the right nurse trustee, rather than simply filling a spot on the board, is of vital importance.

“Overall Carol is just a great person, who is fun-loving and such a positive influence for others in the field of nursing,” said Williams. “Her service to this hospital has been invaluable and we look forward to working with her for many more years.”

NHS Rehab Helps Army Vet Walk Again

Army Veteran, Dan Lewis, hurt his knee in Vietnam. Since that time he has undergone three knee replacement surgeries and has been to four different hospitals. It wasn’t until he entered the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center at Northeastern Health System, that he was able to get out of the bed and learn to walk again.

“Out of my three knee replacements,” said Lewis, “this is the first to be successful. I can walk now, thanks to this inpatient facility.”

Lewis had maintained an active lifestyle working for the post office, serving as undersheriff, working for the FBI for close to 10 years and serving his country in the Army. When he entered the NHS Inpatient Rehab Center he had not walked in many months.

“I was feeling sorry for myself and got really down,” Lewis said. “When I met the staff they made me believe in myself again. It reminded me of the bond I had with my brothers in the service. The staff truly become like family.”

Lewis’ therapists were hard on him and pushed him daily to progress.

“I pushed Dan hard because I knew he could do it, and he did,” said Physical Therapist Mark Rogers.

Sharon Cox, director of the Inpatient Rehab Unit, and one of Lewis’ physical therapists knew Dan had struggled in the past and was determined to help him regain mobility.

“I showed him tough love, gave him the motivation he needed, even when he didn’t want it, because I knew his end result could be amazing, and it is,” said Cox. “He was able to walk out of our facility with the assistance of a walker.”

Inpatient Rehab is a 24 hour program designed to prepare the patient for returning home after an injury or illness. On the unit, patients re-learn how to function by a staff of nurses, therapists and physicians. In fact, the medical team spends so much time with the patient they quickly feel like family.

“I enjoyed my time working with Dan,” said Rogers. “Seeing him walk for the first time when I knew he hadn’t in over six months; it was inspiring. It was rough to say goodbye to him. We have bonded over so many things, including our time in the Army and stories about that time.”

The goodbye was bittersweet for Lewis as well.

“On the day I left, I had been fighting tears all day because the staff truly became my second family, and it was going to be hard to not see them every day,” said Lewis.

Lewis continually urges the community to visit the NHS Inpatient Rehab Unit.“People need to see this place for themselves,” said Lewis. “I am extremely proud of this hospital and every single employee in the building. I’ve been so impressed with everyone: registration, housekeeping, the nursing staff, the medical staff, and so on.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

Biggest Loser Competition Winners Announced

Congratulations to Nicole Little (left) for winning the NHS 2016/2017 Biggest Loser competition. Hollie Carrol (not pictured) placed second, and Brandi Blossom (center) placed thrid. More than 50 employees participated in the weight loss challenge, losing more than 250 lbs as a group. Awards were presented by NHS Executive VP and Hospital Administrator Jim Berry (right).

Remarkables Resale Store Undergoes Renovations

Remarkables Resale Store, in downtown Tahlequah, has recently undergone a major renovation. The store, operated by the volunteers of Northeastern Health System, is now a beautiful mixture of new construction and historic features.

“The tin ceiling, which had been painted numerous times throughout the years, was crumbling,” said Pamela Coonce, Remarkables manager. “It has now been restored and is a great feature of the store.”

The three-month renovation is almost complete and the volunteers look forward to hosting a grand opening.

“We are still accepting donations,” said Coonce. “They can be dropped off at Remarkables and we will pick them up daily. We accept clothes and house wears and look forward to opening the store with some very nice things.”

All proceeds made from the sale of donated items are used to benefit Northeastern Health System, it’s staff and patients. The Auxiliary currently pays for medications and transportation for patients who need help, as well as provides scholarships to employees and equipment for the hospital.

“We do this work because we know how important it is to offer quality healthcare to our rural city,” said Coonce. “Northeastern Health System has expanded so much that there is hardly any need to travel to a big city to get care.”

Donations may be dropped off anytime at the back door of Remarkables, located at 114 S. Muskogee Ave., Tahlequah.

Renowned Dermatologist Joins NHS Ft. Gibson Clinic

Dermatologist, entrepreneur, teacher and man of God, Dr. Steven Smith, recently joined Northeastern Health System’s Ft. Gibson Clinic.

“I am making a comeback,” said Smith. “After a brief retirement from 32 years of full-time dermatology practice, I am back.”

Smith is restarting his career in Ft. Gibson and is currently taking new patients.

“I am very excited about my new affiliation with Northeastern Health System,” said Smith. “These caring, compassionate and well organized people will make it a joy for my patients to be seen– and worth the 45 minute drive from Broken Arrow.”

Smith graduated from Indiana University Medical School and became board certified in Dermatology and Internal Medicine in the early 1980’s. His philosophy is to combine the healing streams of traditional and natural medicine with prayer, keeping Psalms 103 at the forefront of his practice.

“I am seeking to restore excellence in caring for the patient in a setting of good customer service,” said Smith. “Everyone I’ve met [at NHS] has been so helpful and positive. That is very refreshing in the current healthcare environment.”

In 1985, Smith was employed by Oral Roberts University School of Medicine, where he formed the section of Dermatology in the Department of Internal Medicine. He taught dermatology curriculum to third-year medical students before becoming the Clinical Director of dermatology instruction for fourth-year medical student electives.

In 1988, he opened his own dermatology clinic, which soon became a multi-million dollar company. Two years later he founded Loma Lux Laboratories, known as Plymouth Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which developed and marketed a new line of eight oral over-the-counter products and four prescription products for treatment of chronic conditions. Though he sold the pharmaceutical company, the sales of these unique skin care products are being expanded to this day.

Smith has been a guest lecturer at the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, Russian Dermatology Departments in Moscow, Russia, American College for Advancement in Medicine, H&H Dermatology Seminar, Oklahoma American College of Physicians, Oklahoma State Dermatological Society, and the combined Texas/Mexico Dermatology Societies.

He has developed and sponsored countless clinical trials, holds nine patents and has published seven articles.

Smith and his wife, Lorraine, have been married for 44 years, and have three children and eight grandchildren. In his spare time he says his hobbies include being a good husband, grandfather and son of God, enjoying outdoor living, music, playing the guitar, and the challenges of entrepreneurial business.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, such as Dermatology, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

To make an appointment with Dr. Smith, please call (918) 478-2101.

NHS “Cafeteria Lady” Helps Feed Tahlequah’s Hungry Children

Photo Caption: The NHS “Cafeteria Lady,” Ruth Stell, right, raised nearly $1,000 for the Tahlequah Backpack Program. Here she is seen donating the money to April Bardell, who oversees the backpack program for Tahlequah Public Schools.

In 2003, a little boy in Oklahoma City fainted in his school lunch line due to lack of food over the weekend. This event prompted the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to create the Food for Kids Backpack Program. NHS’s self-proclaimed “Cafeteria Lady,” Ruth Stell, decided to help feed children in Tahlequah by collecting nearly $1,000 for the Tahlequah backpack program.

“If you’ve ever visited the NHS cafeteria, you would remember Ruth,” said Mark McCroskey, VP of Operations. “She is a remarkable woman with an incredibly giving heart.”

The program provides chronically hungry children with backpacks filled with non-perishable, nutritious, kid-friendly, shelf-stable food to sustain them over weekends and school holidays. During the 2015-2016 school year, the Backpack Program served 18,816 elementary school students attending 512 schools across 53 central and western Oklahoma counties, providing more than 2 million meals for chronically hungry children.

“There are starving children all over the world,” said Stell, “and it’s good to work to feed them, but with seventeen percent of all Oklahoma children living in poverty, we need to feed our children right here at home too.”

Stell began taking donations, selling recipes and crocheting items for sell in the NHS cafeteria. Soon she had raised nearly $1,000 to donate to the local backpack program.

“You should always give back. So many people are less fortunate than most of us, so we should help out if we can,” said Stell. “If I can fill one belly, then yay!”

National HIM Week

We want to say THANK YOU to our HIM staff for the amazing work they do every day! Happy HIM week!

Health information management (HIM), an allied health profession, leads efforts to ensure the availability, accuracy, integrity, and security of all data related to patient healthcare encounters. This results in better clinical and business decisions that enhance healthcare quality. They play a key role in the effective management of health data necessary to deliver quality healthcare to the public.

NHS Welcomes New EMS Director

Northeastern Health System is happy to announce Mike Cates as the new Director of Emergency Services. Mike replaces long-time director David Carroll who will oversee the Wound Management Center, as well as maintenance on the ambulances.

Cates previously spent 25 years working for Muskogee County EMS, a job that has prepared him well for this new role.

“I have had several mentors growing up in this business,” he said. “I have worked with some very good doctors, medics and nurses over the years that have all influenced me in my career.”

Cates chose NHS because he was impressed with the size and the family atmosphere.

“I treat everyone the same,” he said. “Ever patient is someone’s family. I treat them the exact same way I would want my family member treated.”

Cates plans to increase the education of the NHS EMS team, which will in turn, provide better health care for patients.

“Patients should choose NHS because we are a caring service,” said Cates. “Our technology is growing with leaps and bounds.   There’s no question that our care at NHS will rival any other hospital our size in the country.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

“I would like to thank Muskogee County EMS for the years of experience and knowledge that I gained while working there, and all the relationships that I built while there,” said Cates, “and I would like to thank Northeastern Health Systems for allowing me to take on this new adventure, and the opportunity to add to my EMS family.”

Colorectal Cancer: The Unmentionable Cancer

It’s not a topic for polite conversation: colon / rectal cancer or colorectal cancer. But, since early detection is the best way to combat the disease, it’s important that people think about the disease even if they don’t talk about it. March has been named National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to draw attention to the importance of early detection and treatment.

“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States,” said Dr. Bill Simpson.   “According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, almost 150,000 people in this country were diagnosed with colorectal cancer least year. Cancer is an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. Colorectal refers to the colon and rectum, which together make up the large intestine. Most colorectal cancer appears first as polyps or abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum. Over time, polyps can become cancerous.”

A number of risk factors have been identified which increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. While some of these risk factors cannot be altered, others can be reduced through lifestyle modifications. Risk factors include:

  • Age – 90% of colorectal cancers are diagnosed in people age 50 years or older.
  • Family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
  • Certain diseases of the intestines – i.e. inflammatory bowl disease – can increase the risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Personal history – those previously diagnosed with colorectal cancer have a greater chance of recurrence. (For women, a previous diagnosis of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer can also indicate an increase in the risk for developing colorectal cancer.) In addition, a history of polyps or bowel disease can also increase risk.
  • Diet – a high fat diet increases risk. A diet high in fruits and vegetables and whole grain foods can help reduce risk.
  • Lifestyle – people who don’t exercise and who are overweight are also at increased risk. In addition, smoking and heavy use of alcohol have been identified as contributing factors in colorectal cancer occurrence.

However, 75 percent of all new patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer have no known risk factors for the disease. In its earliest stages, colorectal cancer produces no symptoms. Therefore, all men and women, age 50 and older, should be tested routinely for colorectal cancer. Those who are at increased risk should speak to their physician about starting screenings earlier or performing more frequent testing.

Several tests are recommended for early detection of colorectal cancer. Often several screening tests are combined to increase the ability to detect any problems during the earliest, most treatable stages.

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) – checks for occult or hidden blood in the stool. Most tests involve a test kit where samples are collected at home and mailed to a physician’s office or lab for analysis. This test is usually performed annually.
  • Colonoscopy – this procedure is similar to the flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the tube used is longer and allows the doctor to see the entire colon. This procedure is often used to follow up on suspicious results from other testing methods. If no problems are found, it is typically recommended every ten years.

“Technologies such as virtual colonoscopy and stool DNA testing may become recognized in the future as good diagnostic tools,” concluded Simpson. “Until then, the best way to protect yourself is to visit with your physician about starting a regular screening program at or before you turn 50. With Early diagnosis and treatment, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is 90 percent.”

Bill Simpson, M.D. specializes in gastroenterology and frequently performs colorectal procedures at Northeastern Health System. For more information on colorectal cancer, or to make an appointment with Dr. Simpson, call (918) 207.0025.

Celebrating our HR Office

The week of March 12 – 18, 2017, has been designated to recognize human resources professionals in health care organizations across
the nation for their important role across the continuum of care. We love our hard-working HR staff! Thanks for all you do ladies!

Q&A with NHS Dietitian Lois Fladie

Happy National Dietitian Nutrition Day to our very own Lois Fladie! National Dietitian Nutrition Day was created in 2008 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association), to raise awareness of the indispensable role that registered dietitian nutritionists play in helping people enjoy a healthy life. Check out our Q&A with Lois:

How long have you worked for Northeastern Health System?

I have worked here for 20 years. I am currently the Director of Dietary here at the hospital.

What type of education is required for this profession?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, followed by an internship. I also successfully completed the national exam which is required to be licensed and registered.

Why did you decide to become a dietitian?

I found when my children were little that their health improved greatly depending on the foods they ate. They had continuous ear infections which stopped when I cut out the sugar and added fermented foods like unsweetened yogurt. Fresh fruits took the place of sugar and candy.

 What does a dietitian in a hospital actually do?

As a Clinical Dietitian/Nutritionist, there are management responsibilities, clinical nutrition, patient education and public education.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dietetics and Nutrition is a wide open profession in that there are many areas to work. Specialties include renal, oncology, pediatric, sports, school food services, long-term care, management and critical care to name just a few. This is a profession that helps people live a better life.

Tahlequah’s EagleMed Transitions to First Flight

The former EagleMed air medical transport base in Tahlequah has been renamed First Flight and is now being operated by national air medical transport leader Med-Trans Corporation.

“Although we have a new name, the same amazing medical and flight crews, based in Tahlequah, remain on the job and are committed to providing the very best in patient care,” said Patrick Barkley, Med-Trans program manager in Tahlequah. “This base is staffed with dedicated crew members that care deeply about their patients and take great pride in representing Tahlequah and Cherokee County.”

Med-Trans service in the area stems from a joint venture to serve Northeastern Health System and the Cherokee Nation. The base is staffed by flight crews including pilots and a mechanic, along with a nursing staff and paramedic staff, both backed by physician oversight.

Med-Trans bases a medically equipped Bel 407GXP helicopter at Northeastern Health System that serves the citizens of north, mid and southeast Oklahoma, as well as north and mid-south Arkansas. All EagleMed memberships that are currently active will be honored by Med-Trans.

Med-Trans is a leading national air medical provider focused on establishing partnerships with hospital systems, medical centers and EMS agencies through nearly 90 bases across 23 states. Med-Trans offers customized air ambulance programs through alternative delivery/shared resource models, community based models and traditional hospital-based models. Its patient fleet numbers approximately 100 aircraft comprised predominantly of light single and twin-engine helicopters and twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft.

NHS Security Guard Scores 9th in Nation in Fitness Challenge

NHS has long been a champion of employee health, offering healthy meal options and a yearly weight-loss challenge. Employee wellness programs have been proven to reduce health care costs and absenteeism and increase productivity. One NHS employee, Security Guard Joseph Spriggs, has taken health to a new level.

Spriggs, who is part of the NHS wellness team, uploads his fitness device to Myinertia.com, a website that logs activity minutes from participant devices such as Garmin or Fitbit. MyInertia is an online program that is used by people across the nation. Spriggs recently was ranked ninth in the nation.

Spriggs joined the NHS challenge to compete with a couple of co-workers, never expecting to be ranked so high.

“I actually stay active a lot outside of work,” said Spriggs. “I go and play basketball when I get the chance and also try to exercise twice a day, before and after work. I also put in a lot of minutes at work. Working security helps because we are constantly making rounds around all of the hospital floors and property.”

NHS began this fitness challenge with a grant from Ardmore Institute of Health. The NHS teams scored higher than any other group participation in the Fitness Activity Grant, earning NHS an additional $2,400 in grant money to be used for future wellness initiatives.

“To me, if I am able to stay in the top 10 that would be a great accomplishment, because it wasn’t even a goal at first,” said Sprigs. I would like that number on spot though, so that might be a new challenge for me.”

Donations Stay in the Community at NHS Blood Drives

Blood Drive smNortheastern Health System will host a blood drive on Monday, February 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Tuesday, February 28, from noon to 6 p.m. Giving at an NHS sponsored blood drive is different than giving at others drives, as the hospital receives one unit of blood for every five units donated at NHS to help save lives right here in the community.

Make plans now to help your community by donating blood at the NHS blood drive. The drive will be held at the NHS West Conference Room, located directly behind Armstrong Bank on Downing Street in Tahlequah. Walk-ins are welcome, or donors may schedule an appointment by contacting NHS Education Coordinator, Suzanne Lovell at (918) 456-0641. A photo ID is required and donors will receive a free T-shirt. For more information, call Lovell at the number listed or visit the Oklahoma Blood Institute Web site at www.obi.org.

Atkinson Named Director of NHS Outpatient Rehab Center

Rachel Atkinson sm2Rachel Atkinson, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, has recently been named Director of Northeastern Health System’s Outpatient Rehabilitation facility. Atkinson has worked in the outpatient facility for eight years, supervising numerous physical therapy assistants and undergraduate students hoping to follow in her footsteps.

Atkinson will be replacing long-time, and much loved Physical Therapist Lecil Harper, who has decided to take more time off to visit his granddaughter out of state.

“Forty-two years as a physical therapist is long enough,” said Harper. “It’s time for a new generation of therapists to take the clinic to the next level.”

Atkinson received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Wichita State University in 2009, but her love for the profession began as a child.

“When I was younger I had several stints of physical therapy due to injuries I received while playing sports, and I

always enjoyed therapy as a patient,” said Atkinson. “I also have always really been into fitness and became a certified personal trainer in college. Having the athlete and personal trainer background, along with a passion for helping individuals, ultimately led me down the physical therapy path and I am so happy every day that I did. Physical therapy is one of very few health professions that you get to spend a lot of time with your patients while helping them feel better and return to their prior level of function. By the time a patient is ready to be discharged, I always feel like I made a friend. I love that!”

The outpatient rehab department provides physical, occupational and speech therapy, by experienced therapists who are passionate about what they do and will go the extra mile to make sure patients get the most out of therapy.

“NHS should be all patients’ first choice for their healthcare needs,” said Atkinson. “We have some amazing physicians, nurses and staff that really care about you. I have personally been a patient of NHS several times and have always had a positive experience.”

Atkinson credits her patients and co-workers for helping shape her professional, and sometimes personal, life.

“NHS provided an environment that helped me advance as a professional. One of the individuals that I feel has been a mentor to me is Todd Shafer. Todd is an excellent supervisor and sets an example of the type of supervisor I want to be. I feel I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without the support of Todd and many other administrators at NHS. It is nice to really feel like you are part of a team.

“There have also been many patient cases that have impacted my life. From the little boy who took his first steps after his parents were told he would never walk, to the patient who left pain free after having pain for over a year. It’s cases like these that validate that I am exactly where I should be,” said Atkinson.

When not working Atkinson enjoys a wide variety of activities, such as fishing, shopping and watching her favorite sports teams.

“The one thing I love most, though, is cooking, or really anything that involves food,” said Atkinson. “I love making a big meal and having friends and family over to relax and enjoy some time together, or going to a new restaurant and trying something new.”

Atkinson and her husband, Scott, whom she calls her rock and best friend, have been married for two years and have three beautiful daughters.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

NHS Residents Selected for National Conference

Janel and Josh 3NHS Family Residents, Dr. Janel Johnson and Dr. Josh Priddle, were selected to attend the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians National Conference, in Atlanta, Georgia. Attendees were chosen through a stringent application process and only a select group was chosen to attend.

Northeastern Health System partnered with Oklahoma State University in 2008 to begin a Family Medicine Residency Program. By 2011 the program was so successful, NHS was awarded a second residency program, this time in Internal Medicine.

“Overall I thought that the NHS Family medicine residency was and is a great residency program,” said Priddle. “I feel as though I have been taught what I need to know to go out and practice on my own. The program has prepared me to be a rural family medicine physician first and foremost, but has also prepared me to go on and pursue further specialized training. They have also taught me how to be a leader and interact with my peers as their leader while I was one of the chief residents my second year. Overall I would have to state that I have absolutely loved my training in Tahlequah and would not trade it for any other.”

 

 

 

Tahlequah Hospital Foundation to Host 12th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala

The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation will host the Twelfth Annual Hearts of Gold Gala on Feb. 10, 2017 with special guest, jazz musician, Grady Nichols, and everyone’s favorite band, Emerald City. The Gala, a fundraiser to support Northeastern Health System, will raise money to help absorb the cost of caring for the uninsured, provide scholarships to students pursuing a career in healthcare and provide the latest in technology and infrastructure.

GalaSponsored by Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center, the Gala will showcase the hospital’s growth over the last year as well as honor several individuals who have made a significant impact on healthcare in Tahlequah.

“The awards given at the Gala are a great way to recognize the people who have made such great contributions to the community through their professional and volunteer service,” said Susan Chapman Plumb, Foundation Board Member.   “We have so many unsung heroes in this community and it’s a perfect opportunity to recognize them.”

The four awards given are the Heart of Gold Award, recognizing volunteer Charles Duvall for his many hours of service to the Tahlequah City Hospital Auxiliary and the community; the McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award, recognizing Dr. George Cohlmia for demonstrating clinical excellence and his many years of service; the Thompson Award, recognizing Carol Choate for her instrumental role in Tahlequah’s healthcare history; and the Dr. Mary Carlile Award, recognizing Harvey Chaffin for his many years of service to the Tahlequah community and beyond.

“I think the Gala is important for our community,” said JoAnn Bradley, of the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation. “It gives the Foundation an opportunity to help the hospital purchase equipment, land and other needed resources. It also helps the hospital provide scholarships for its employees to obtain nursing and healthcare related degrees.”

For tickets or more information on the Hearts of Gold Gala, call (918) 453-2105.

NHS Delivers Tahlequah’s First Baby of 2017

2017-babyPhoto Caption: Members from Northeastern Health System and the Oklahoma Home Community Extension office in Tahlequah, joined together to celebrate Tahlequah’s first new baby of 2017. Lucy Morningstar Thiel made her arrival at 12:54 on Jan. 2. Pictured are (l to r): Megan Grogan, RN, Dad, Chad Thiel holding Lucy, Mom, Summer Thiel, OHCE members Ann Lamons and Mildred Fain, and NHS OB Director, Teina Trimble.

 

Northeastern Health System is happy to announce Tahlequah’s first baby of 2017! Lucy Morningstar Thiel was born to Chad and Summer Thiel at 12:54 a.m. on January 2, 2017. Lucy weighted 7 lbs. and 3 oz. and was 19 inches long. Lucy will go home to join big brother, Chad, who is almost 2 years old.

Northeastern Health System was joined by members of the Oklahoma Home Community Extension office to celebrate the new birth and to deliver gifts for baby Lucy and her parents.

The maternity center rooms at NHS are designed to welcome families with a more hotel-like feel, including beautiful aesthetics and comfortable furniture. Each room serves as the labor, deliver, recovery and post-partum room, allowing the family to stay together and in one location.

“The nurses at NHS were amazing,” said Summer Theil. “They were professional, courteous and were very confident in what they were doing.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

NHS Resident Lands Prestigious Fellowship

priddleNHS Family Medicine Resident, Joshua Priddle, D.O., was recently accepted to the Sports Medicine Fellowship at Edward Via College in conjunction with Auburn University. Priddle is one of only two people to be selected for this prestigious fellowship.

A fellowship is a period of medical training that a physician may undertake after completing their residency program.

“I decided to become a physician during my third year of college,” said Priddle. “I was taking health science courses and did not really know what I wanted to do. I was active in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries and one of my mentors told me to read a biography on the life of Dr. Bill Wallace, who was a medical missionary to China. His life’s story was something that spoke to me and it became clear that I wanted to practice medicine and do something similar as he did. At that time I began to pursue coursework to get into medical school.”

Priddle, from Duke, Oklahoma, attended medical school at Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, before entering the residency program at NHS.

“Overall I thought that the NHS Family medicine residency was and is a great residency program,” said Priddle. “I feel as though I have been taught what I need to know to go out and practice on my own. The program has prepared me to be a rural family medicine physician first and foremost, but has also prepared me to go on and pursue further specialized training. They have also taught me how to be a leader and interact with my peers as their leader while I was one of the chief residents my second year. Overall I would have to state that I have absolutely loved my training in Tahlequah and would not trade it for any other.”

For three years Priddle practiced medicine under the teaching of NHS Physicians. During this residency he decided to apply for a variety of sports medicine fellowships, eight to be exact.

“I got the opportunity to rotate at two of the programs I applied for, one of which was at Auburn,” said Priddle. “While I rotated there I got to see many of the Auburn University athletes and help take care of them.   I also got to rotate with a few of the other sports medicine physician’s around town. I enjoyed my time there. There were two positions available and I was offered one of them.”

While at Auburn, Priddle will be assisting with D1 sports coverage of the Auburn Tigers, rotating through and gaining additional experience in orthopedics, and sports coverage for an area high school.

Northeastern Health Center has residency programs in both Family Medicine and Internal Medicine. The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

Leatherman Promoted to Assistant VP at NHS

leatherman-priacillasmcPriacilla Leatherman began working for Northeastern Health System, then known as Tahlequah City Hospital, when she was in high school. She worked her way through college and through the hospital’s ranks, and has recently been named Assistant Vice President of Finance and Compliance.

“I am very excited for my new role,” said Leatherman. “I have seen the hospital grow from approximately 250 employees when I first started, to now having close to 900. This is an amazing feat and I am looking forward to being able to even further expand on our current programs. The administrators at NHS have encouraged me in every step of my career and I really appreciate all of the support they have given me over the years.”

Leatherman began as an intern in the HR department. After graduating high school, she was hired to work in Patient Registration. While completing her undergraduate degree in accounting she worked in the hospital’s data processing department, before transferring to the position of Staff Accountant, from there she moved to the position of Medical

“I have basically grown up here,” said Leatherman of NHS. “Everyone at NHS truly cares about what they do. You are not just another patient here, but you are family, friends and neighbors. I feel honored to be a part of this culture.”

Leatherman, married to her husband, John, for 18 years, has two active children, Tyler, 16, and Kayli, 12. Her busy life hasn’t kept her from obtaining her goals, as she became a Certified Healthcare Financial Professional in 2015 and will graduate this week with her MBA.

“I enjoy new challenges,” said Leatherman. “NHS continuously strives to be the best. We are always looking for areas to expand and new service lines to provide, so our patients can receive excellent care close to home. I can’t wait to see what is around the next corner.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

 

 

NHS Awarded Wellness Grant

wellness-grantPhoto Caption: Michelle Sinkler from Full Plate Living, presented a check to Northeastern Health System in recognition of the amazing outcomes seen during NHS’s 8-week wellness challenge. The funds will be used for future wellness programs. Pictured, from left, are: Phyllis Smith, NHS Human Resources Director, James Newman, NHS Nutritionist, and Sinkler.

Forty Northeastern Health System employees participated in a wellness challenge thanks to a Fitness Activity Grant from Ardmore Institute of Health.   The forty employees divided into two teams of 20 to compete for the most activity minutes. The NHS teams scored higher than any other group who was participating in the Fitness Activity Grant, earning NHS an additional $2,400 in grant money to be used for future wellness initiatives.

The eight-week challenge measured participants’ activity for no less than 10 minutes per session. The grant funds were applied to a Garmin or Fitbit for each participant allowing their tracked minutes to be uploaded to a tracking site.

“The participants had fun challenging each other as well as trying to beat the other team,” said event organizer and Director of Human Resources, Phyllis Smith.

Dr. Mary Moore, an NHS Emergency Department physician, was the top participant logging 11,516 activity minutes. Toni Kemp, NHS’s Employee Health Nurse, was second with 9,869 activity minutes.

“My benefits are multiple,” said Laboratory Director, Clint Horn. “I am able to keep moving a lot longer than I could before starting the program. I can take the stairs without getting winded, I’m more alert, can stay at work longer and have more energy to play with my kids. I also got to know several people that have similar goals and developed friendships through walking together and having a similar focus.”

America has a large number of individuals that struggle with obesity. The physical condition plays havoc in the workplace by affecting employer costs and impairing morale and productivity.

“Since participating in the wellness challenge, daily exercise has become a part of my life,” said Kristi Morgan, Director of Social Services. “I now monitor and track my daily activity, setting goals for myself. The wellness challenge has motivated and inspired me to become more active.”

NHS has long been a champion of employee health, offering healthy meal options and a yearly weight-loss challenge against Cherokee Nation Hastings Indian Medical Center. Employee wellness programs have been proven to reduce health care costs and absenteeism and increase productivity.

“We want our staff to be happy and healthy,” said Smith. “Challenges like this one are a great way to boost morale, make new friends and learn healthy habits at the same time.”

NHS Art Sale Benefits Habitat 4 Humanity

5x5-art-saleTwenty-six Northeastern Health System (NHS) employees recent displayed their artistic abilities to benefit Habitat 4 Humanity (H4H). The two organizations partnered to hold a 5×5 Art Sale at NHS and raised more than $1,300 to help build House #24.

The sale included 61 pieces, all 5×5 in dimension, in a variety of mediums.

“One of the greatest benefits from this event is that NHS employees discovered the many artists in our midst.  There are several other NHS employee artists that did not participate this year who, upon seeing the show, indicated they would do something in the future,” said Susan Hamilton, NHS employee and H4H secretary and Chaplain.” “H4H ED, Linda Cheatham, has already received requests from supporters to do this again next year!  It would be wonderful to build on this year’s success and have this become an annual tradition.”

All proceeds from the sale will be used to help build H4H’s “House #24,” which is expected to begin construction next spring.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

NHS Veterans Continue to Serve their Community

veterans-day-ad-2015The hallmark of any good hospital is the care patients receive. While employees at Northeastern Health System (NHS) take patient care seriously, there is a small group within the health system who have dedicated their lives to serving others. In recognition of Veteran’s Day, NHS would like to thank those employees who served this country and continue to serve, every day, in the halls of the hospital.

“I joined the Air Force to further my education, travel and be a part of something bigger,” said Elizabeth O’Connel, sous chef at NHS’s dietary department. O’Connel currently serves in the Air Force Reserves. “Serving in the Air National Guard has benefited me in so many ways. I would say the ability to adapt and overcome, in various situations, is definitely a big one. My service has given me many opportunities to grow as an individual as well as a teammate.”

Like O’Connel, NHS’s Director of Health Information Management, Cindy Payne, joined the military to learn new skills and help others.

Payne enlisted during her senior year of high school in the Army’s Delayed Entry program. Following graduation she was sent to Ft. McClellan in Alabama for basic training.

“I was in one of the largest groups of women who went through basic training under the Women’s Army Corp (WAC). After basic training, all the women’s statuses changed to Regular Army,” said Payne. “It completely changed my life, my work ethic, self-confidence and my view of the world.”

A strong work ethic and service to others can routinely be seen from the many veterans employed at NHS. NHS would like to say thank you to those who served and who are continuing that service to the community.

Paul Bohren, Pharmacist, Navy

Joe Brossier, CVICU, Air Force

Jason Butcher, LPN, Navy

Harold J. Casper, Patient Access, Army

Mike Cathey, Echo, Air Force

Chris Champlin, Biomed, Air Force

Kevin Cobb, EMS, Navy

Forrest “David” Collins, Patient Access, Army

Robert Crawford, EMS, Army

Stan Duckworth, Laboratory

Anthony Eden, EMS, Marines

Cleve Egdmon, EMS, Navy

Morgan Flanagan, CST, Army

Courtney Frits, Laboratory, Army National Guard

Paul Gartlan, CVICU, Air Force

David Gibbs, Laboratory, Navy

Kelli Guy, Administration, Marines

Ashley Harris, Laboratory

Clint Horn, Laboratory, Navy

Joseph Kavanagh, LPN, Army and Navy

Kyle Kuenning, Emergency Department, Air Force

Madison Medlock, Solutions, Marines

Steve Mount, Security, Navy

Elizabeth O’Connell, Dietary, Air Force

Christina Pait, Physical Therapist, Navy

Cynthia Payne, Health Information, Army

Mark Rogers, Physical Therapist, Army

Tiphanie Russell, Patient Access, Marines

Senadoro Salas, Environmental Services, Marines

Josh Schapp, EMS, Army

Ira Earle Simms, Plant Operations

Constance Smith, Urgent Care, Navy

Chris Taylor, Patient Access, Army

Northeastern Health System adds Nephrologist to Medical Staff

tahirNortheastern Health System is pleased to announce a new addition to the medical staff. Imran Tahir, M.D., is now seeing patients in Tahlequah. Tahir specializes in nephrology, or functions of the kidneys.

“During my interview, I was impressed by the southern hospitality and friendly work atmosphere. I felt I am needed here as a physician,” said Tahir. “I also wanted to live in a small town, away from brutal Chicago winters.”

Tahir is board certified in Internal Medicine and board eligible in nephrology. Looking back at his record, he graduated top of his class and was awarded best resident for three consecutive years during his residency training at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Chicago.

Tahir has been an ardent advocate of medicine from the very beginning and it is from here he advanced his interest in nephrology.

He trained at Loyola University in Chicago where he diversified his experience in nephrology working at the VA Hines and Loyola Medical Center, which also happens to be a busy transplant center. He has been mentored by extremely qualified and world-renowned nephrologists.

“Having a nephrologist in Tahlequah is a great thing for so many of our patients,” said CJ Jankas, AVP of Physician Services at NHS. “Having a nephrologist with Dr. Tahir’s credentials and experience is even better. He will certainly compliment the quality services we have at NHS.”

Tahir believes in providing a very comprehensive and, at the same time, a precise treatment plan designed to meet his patient’s needs at an individual level.

He is energetic, loves working both inpatient and outpatient, and develops a specific bond with all his patients. He believes in quality of care and his concept envisages involving a holistic team approach including PCP, sub specialists, nursing staff and social workers to improve patient care standards. This kind of quality of practice sets him apart, not only as a physician, but a wonderful humanitarian as well. Consulting Tahir will provide patients with confidence, a better patient physician relationship and clarity in understanding their options, resulting in an optimum level of functioning and health.

Tahir and his wife, Muneeza Afif, who is a hospitalist, have been married for seven years. They enjoy spending time with their two-year-old daughter, Mahnoor, and their four-month-old son, Nyle.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

To make an appointment with Tahir, please call (918) 207-1189.

NHS Coders Receive Certification

nhs-coders

Photo Caption: Coders at Northeastern Health System spend countless hours on continuing education to make sure each patient receives the correct bill. Pictured are: (Row 1, L to R) Sasha Landaverde, Cheryl Gray, Marlene Markham, Sheryl Ray; (Row 2) Stacy Fountain, Galina Fisher, Stefanie Ballard, Meagan Anderson. Not pictured: Natasha Mora.

The world of medical coding has become quite demanding, requiring knowledge of thousands of codes and the ability to be accurate. Coders at Northeastern Health System spend countless hours on continuing education to make sure each patient receives the correct bill. This continuing education has resulted in the entire group of coders obtaining certification.

A medical coder is a health Information professional who assigns universally identifiable codes to a patient’s medical diagnoses and procedures. There are thousands of codes and they change frequently, making it a difficult position.

“We pride ourselves in being able to develop and educate qualified coders from within the hospital, as well as the surrounding community, without having to contract out to other areas,” said Cheryl Gray, coding supervisor at NHS. “This means that our patients and providers can feel confident that our accounts are being coded and billed with a high level of accuracy.”

Meagan Anderson recently obtained her CCA making her a Certified Coding Analyst.

“To pass the CCA there was a lot of on-the-job training and knowledge gained from experience,” said Anderson. “The CCA test not only tests your knowledge of coding, but it also tests you on HIPAA guidelines, billing details and how clinical information is stored in a patient’s medical record.”

Having a fully certified coding team allows for more accuracy in the billing process, allowing the hospital to help keep costs down for patients.

Coder Stefanie Ballard recently became a Certified Coding Specialist.

“We receive a lot of encouragement and support from our co-workers and supervisors,” said Ballard. “It also gives our hospital a positive image since everyone in our department has a certification of some kind now.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

For more information on the service offered by Northeastern Health System, visit www.nhs-ok.org.

 

 

Sartan Credits Faith for Overcoming Adversity

pearl-sartan-3

Pearl Sartan had every reason to give up on her faith. Last October, worn down from spending time in the hospital with her ill husband, she went to Northeastern Health System for her first mammogram in many years. While waiting for the results, her husband passed away. Shortly thereafter she received the news she had breast cancer, and her journey of tests, surgeries and treatments began.

According to Sartan, this experience only strengthened her faith, causing her to lean on the Lord.

“They say anything that makes you pray and read the Bible more is good for you, so I guess it was good for me,” Sartan laughed before becoming more somber. “I had just lost my husband, and then I was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t have time to mourn. I had to pick up and go on with what I had to do for myself. My family and friends were there supporting me and helping me.”

Following her mammogram, Sartan underwent more scans and a biopsy. She later had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.

“I did chemo every three weeks. I needed four treatments but could only handle three because they made me really sick,” she remembered. “They did my surgery to remove the breast, and then I started doing radiation treatments. I did 39 of those. It was just that it was so strong that it burnt me and I would have to take two to three days off to let it heal.”

Other changes are common when undergoing cancer treatments. Exhaustion, lack of appetite and taste changes are experienced by many patients, and Sartan was no exception.

“The chemo made me really weak and I couldn’t eat. Nothing tasted good. I could hardly find anything to drink,” she recalled. “It had been four years since I had had coffee and that’s all I could drink. Then I got to where I could drink chocolate milk. That’s what I drank during the last part of my chemo.”

Through it all, Sartan kept her faith in God and trusted him to bring her through.

“It didn’t upset me. I just knew that it was in the Lord’s hands and I trusted him,” said Sartan.

Cancer does not only affect the patient. Family members and close friends create a vital support system, but it can be hard on these loved ones.

“My daughter had to lose a lot of sleep, because there were times that I couldn’t sleep and she had to bring me things because I was so week. My brother, sister-in-law and granddaughter would stay with me to help.”

One year later, Sartan has confronted her battle with cancer and the death of her husband. Her strength, faith and family support have helped.

“There’s nothing that you can’t get through, regardless – cancer, of any kind – if you have the Lord, because there’s nothing impossible with him.”

Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center at Northeastern Health System, offers a full array of cancer treatment options, allowing patients in the rural area to receive quality care. The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

Trammel’s Missed Mammograms Lead to Mastectomy

trammel-cheryl3

“The best protection is early detection,” a saying the public has heard numerous times surrounding breast cancer awareness. For Cheryl Trammel, this saying took on new meaning after discovering a lump in her breast.

“I had not had a mammogram in eight years. My doctor got me an appointment, the same day, at Northeastern Health System,” said Trammel. “The best advice I can give, is to have yearly mammograms. It could have kept me from having a mastectomy.”

In 2010, Trammel discovered a lump. She visited her doctor who ordered a mammogram, which was followed by an ultra sound and a biopsy.

“When I received the bad news I was sick at my stomach,” remembered Trammel. “My mind started thinking about everything. How bad is it? Am I going to live through this? How bad are the treatments?”

Following her first PET scan, an imaging test allowing healthcare providers to check for diseases in the body, Trammel was told she also had papillary thyroid cancer.

“I had six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation,” she said. “I was able to have my radiation at Northeastern Health System, and they were awesome. I would have my treatments Monday through Friday on my lunch hour, then return to work.”

Despite her double diagnoses, Trammel’s experience was better than she expected.

“I expected to be a lot sicker,” she said. “I was surprised I only felt like I had the flu. I would have treatment on Thursday, go back for a shot on Friday, feel bad Saturday and Sunday, then be back to work on Monday. I was very lucky I didn’t have any negative reactions to the medications they gave me.”

Trammel credits her positive attitude, support from family and friends, and her team of healthcare providers, with her positive outcome.

“Cancer is a very scary disease. There is not a day that goes by when you don’t think about it returning,” she said. “You are at the mercy of your doctors. I was blessed to have an awesome breast doctor, endocrinologist, and radiologist.   It’s also a very expensive disease. Hopefully in the near future they will find a cure.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community. As a result, NHS is offering $75 mammogram screenings during the month of October, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment for a mammogram and take advantage of the $75 flat fee, please call (918) 772-4588.

NHS Welcomes Two Interventional Cardiologists

C's

Since its conception in 2005, Northeastern Health System’s (NHS) catheterization lab has increased in number of procedures. What began as a service offered only a few days a week has grown to a lab that is continually full. While the volume has increased, NHS’s cath lab remains one of the safest in the area, thanks in part to two new Interventional Cardiologists, Jack Casas, M.D., and Matthew Comstock, D.O.

“Interventional cardiology includes angioplasty and stents, pacemakers, defibrillators, peripheral arterial disease treatment, dialysis graft treatment, and other heart-related procedures,” said Casas. “Having these services here allows our patients and their family members to remain local. Having to travel great distances causes strain on families, employment and overall care.”

The opportunity to offer advanced care to a rural community is also something that attracted Comstock to the area.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to be here and make a difference in this community,” said Comstock. “By growing and expanding the depth of cardiology services available to the community we can improve the access to cardiac care and cardiology based outcomes in the region.”

Casas graduated from the University of California at Davis. He joined NHS because it has developed into a large healthcare system in need of specialty services; an area in which he felt he could make a difference.

“I believe the best thing we can do for patients is establish a good quality of life,” said Casas.

Casas and his wife of 10 years have four children and six grandchildren.

Comstock graduated from Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. The Tahlequah community and its lifestyle, coupled with the ability to work for a growing health system, attracted him to the area.

“There’s a large opportunity for growth in this area of the state and cardiology is largely underserved,” said Comstock. “The staff are hard-working and caring and treat patients the way I try to treat them. Every time I treat a patient, I try and ask myself, ‘If this was my mom or dad, how would I want them to be treated and what would I want the doctor to be willing to do for them?’”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to bring specialized physicians to serve the community.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call (918) 229-1431.

Jana Shumate’s battle with Breast Cancer Changed her Outlook on Life
Jana Shumate was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram at Northeastern Health System. Her battle with breast cancer changed her outlook on life, motivating her to focus on the positive and making her more empathetic to the struggles of those she encounters

Jana Shumate was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram at Northeastern Health System. Her battle with breast cancer changed her outlook on life, motivating her to focus on the positive and making her more empathetic to the struggles of those she encounters

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Jana Shumate’s battle with breast cancer changed her outlook on life, motivating her to focus on the positive and making her more empathetic to the struggles of those she encounters. She was first diagnosed in 2009 after a routine mammogram. What followed would be a period of highs and lows.

“There was an abnormality found during a routine mammogram at Northeastern Health System, so they also did an ultrasound,” remembered Shumate. “All my mammograms are done in the Women’s Center at NHS. The staff is great, especially Misty Branan who has been so caring with me.”

In 2009, the NHS Cancer Center was just being formed, forcing Shumate to make the journey to Tulsa for a specialist and chemotherapy. NHS now offers a full range of cancer treatment, allowing patients to remain close to home.

“A needle biopsy confirmed that it was ductal carcinoma,” said Shumate. “I was shocked, but ready to take action. I felt that there was an enemy in my body and the sooner we could get rid of it the better.”

The following weeks sent Shumate on an emotional roller coaster as she underwent a barrage of tests.

“There would be good news, followed by bad news, followed by decision making,” she said. “It was very all-consuming.”

Shumate underwent a lumpectomy, removal of lymph nodes, 24 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of radiation.

“I was able to have radiation here at the NHS Cancer Center,” said Shumate. “Wylie and Kristen [in the cancer center] are excellent and almost made it fun!”

Often times, healthcare providers are the people patients interact with the most during cancer treatments. It is not uncommon for patients to build a bond with their nurses, doctors and radiology technicians.

“As a patient you go through many emotions and changes – being scared, anxious, mad and sad, not looking like yourself, losing hair, being sick, becoming weak, feeling like you don’t have control of what is happening and the list goes on,” said Shumate. “The staff makes a big difference in every procedure and appointment. I have been very fortunate to have excellent doctors and staff here at NHS and in Tulsa. Some of these people I would see several times a week. You become very dependent upon them as part of your support system.”

Shumate’s faith, her husband, Kevin, and many other family members and friends, were of great comfort and support.

“My faith in God, his plans for me, and the support of my family and friends, was so important to my recovery.

My husband, Kevin, was my constant companion. He went to all my appointments, was another set of eyes and ears, and my biggest encourager. I have been a survivor for almost 8 years,” said Shumate. “Having cancer has motivated me to try and focus on the positive. I realize more now, that you can’t look at someone and tell what struggles they are fighting. So I try to live by this saying, ‘Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle!’”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community. As a result, NHS is offering $75 mammogram screenings during the month of October, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment for a mammogram and take advantage of the $75 flat fee, please call (918) 772-4588.

NHS Volunteers Save Hospital Thousands in Labor
The volunteer’s at Northeastern Health System were recently thanked for their service through a banquet held in their honor. In 2015, the volunteers donated nearly 14,000 hours, equivilant to nearly $300,000.

The volunteer’s at Northeastern Health System were recently thanked for their service through a banquet held in their honor. In 2015, the volunteers donated nearly 14,000 hours, equivilant to nearly $300,000.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tahlequah City Hospital Auxiliary volunteers contributed nearly $300,000 in labor through their work at the hospital and Remarkables Thrift Store. The 2015 report released by the hospital shows the 56 Auxiliary members worked 13,855 hours.

“The work done by our volunteers is essential to the hospital’s ability to offer quality medical care,” said NHS Executive Vice President, Jim Berry. “Not only do they contribute significantly in man hours, but they frequently purchase equipment for the facility and provide scholarships to students. Their organization is a great benefit to the community.”

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63.4 million Americans, or 26.8 percent of the adult population, gave 8.1 billion hours of volunteer services worth $169 billion.

“It is very difficult to put a dollar value on volunteer time,” said TCH Director of Auxiliary Services, Ami Maddocks. “Volunteers provide many intangibles that cannot be easily quantified. For example, volunteers demonstrate the amount of support an organization has within a community, provide work for short periods of time and provide support on a wide range of projects.”

The Northeastern Health System’s Auxiliary began in 1974 when a group of volunteers gathered on Muskogee Avenue to open a clothing and resale shop called Remarkables. Years later, this same group of volunteers opened another business in the waiting room at the hospital. This business was a “gift shop” operated from a kiosk which later turned into a permanent store located in the front lobby of the hospital. More than 40 years later, both businesses are successfully in operation.

“I think I speak for all of the volunteers when I say we volunteer because we believe it makes a difference in people’s lives,” said Auxiliary President SueAnn Freeman. “It is truly amazing to think about the fact that each nickel and dime we make through sales or through our time is then turned into the technology used to save someone’s life.”

The Northeastern Health System Auxiliary is open to anyone 18 years of age or older. Volunteers typically donate 4 hours per week of time in a variety of areas throughout the hospital and at Remarkables. Auxiliary members may volunteer on a permanent basis, or volunteer for special tasks. For more information, or an application, please contact Tahlequah City Hospital’s Volunteer Office at (918) 453-2105, or visit www.tch-ok.org.

 

 

Myers Named Chief of Surgery at NHS
Photo Caption: Dr. Jack Myers was recently named Chief of Surgery at Northeastern Health System. His surgical experience, as well as his vast knowledge of hospital history and workings, will greatly compliment his new role.

Photo Caption: Dr. Jack Myers was recently named Chief of Surgery at Northeastern Health System. His surgical experience, as well as his vast knowledge of hospital history and workings, will greatly compliment his new role.

 

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Jack Myers, D.O., was recently named Chief of Surgery at Northeastern Health System. His surgical experience, as well as his vast knowledge of hospital history and workings, will greatly compliment his new role.

“I have worked in several roles in the hospital,” said Myers. “I started as an emergency room nurse tech in 1997. I was also an operating room orderly in 1999.”

By 2002 Myers was visiting patients as a medical student. Upon graduation he served as the emergency room attending physician from 2006 to 2008.

“I’ve literally and figuratively grown up in this facility,” said Myers. “I’ve mopped floors, stocked rooms, made coffee, applied dressings, bathed patients, and been a patient myself.”

Myers credits several mentors for his success as a physician.

“I started working here during undergraduate school at the University of Arkansas on nights and weekends.  I literally didn’t know what vital signs were,” remembered Myers. “ I had several mentors at this facility over the years, and I wouldn’t be the physician and surgeon I am today without them.  Roberta Jones, Steve Imhoff, and Pat Butler were emergency room nurses at the time.   Being allowed to participate in their end of patient care has given me perspective that I’ll use for the rest of my career.  Dr. John Galdamez was my mentor from undergraduate studies through surgical residency.  He’s probably the most gifted and inspiring physician I’ve ever known.   Dr. Randall Turner was also incredibly kind to me, and helped get me into medical school.  Dr. Tom Ward was a legendary surgeon here and I certainly enjoyed spending time with him as a medical student.”

Myers is excited to take on his new role as Chief of Surgery.

“I like to think that being appointed Chief of Surgery means that my peers respect me as a surgeon and see me as a leader,” he said. “One of the best things about working at NHS is feeling genuinely supported and appreciated by the administration.”

Myers and his wife of 10 years, Lana, have four children. When not working, Myers spends his time as a song writer and musician for his band The Vox Squadron. He also enjoys many outdoor activities.

Northeastern Health System offers Mammography Special
Photo Caption: The women’s health center at Northeastern Health System is offering $75 screening mammograms in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment, call (918) 772-4588. Pictured are the Women’s Center staff, row 1 (l to r): Dr. Cole, Misty Branan, Lirianne Escota, Katie Sellers, (row 2, L to R): Tiffany McCarter, Adrian Dismang, Sandra Medlin.

Photo Caption: The women’s health center at Northeastern Health System is offering $75 screening mammograms in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment, call (918) 772-4588. Pictured are the Women’s Center staff, row 1 (l to r): Dr. Cole, Misty Branan, Lirianne Escota, Katie Sellers, (row 2, L to R): Tiffany McCarter, Adrian Dismang, Sandra Medlin.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, Northeastern Health System is offering mammogram screenings for a flat fee of $75. The focus of this annual effort is to educate women, and those who love them, about the important benefits of early breast cancer detection.

“Unfortunately, too many women fail to receive their annual mammography screenings,” said Misty Branan, NHS mammography technologist. “In some cases, this can be attributed to a lack of education. There are still some people who do not understand the importance of mammography in early breast cancer detection.   Other women avoid the annual tests because they are afraid; scared that the test itself will hurt or afraid of receiving possible bad news.”

The messages for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month are important:

  • Early detection saves lives.
  • Mammography screening is the single most effective method of early detection.
  • An annual mammogram is recommended for all women over 40 years of age.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally feel and should report any changes to their health care provider.
  • Breast self-examinations (monthly from age 20) and clinical examinations (at least every three years from age 20 to 35, and annually from age 40 and up) should be a part of regular breast health screenings.

 

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women,” said Branan. “Finding a tumor at its earliest stages and getting appropriate treatment not only provides the best chance of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis, but also provides the broadest range of effective treatment options.”

In addition to the inherited higher risk from a “breast cancer” gene, a number of other risk factors have been identified. These risk factors may be a good point of discussion for a women to outline a breast cancer screening plan with her health provider, but a lack of risk factors does not mean that a woman will not develop breast cancer. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer have none of these risk factors, so it is still important to receive regular breast cancer screenings.

Estrogen-Related Risk Factors:

  • Having an early first period (before the age of 12)
  • Having a late first pregnancy (after age 25 or 35)
  • Having no children
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Use of oral contraceptives has not been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.

 

Risk Factors You Can Change:

  • High fat intake – eat leaner meats and limit intake of saturated or hydrogenated fats.
  • Low fiber intake – increase consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake – eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • High alcohol intake – abstain from drinking or drink in moderation (less than two drinks per day).
  • Sedentary lifestyle – stay active, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most, if not all, days; maintain a healthy weight.
  • Smoking – enroll in a smoking cessation program or research over-the-counter aids to quit on your own.

 

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community. To make an appointment for a mammogram and take advantage of the $75 flat fee, please call (918) 772-4588.

Northeastern Health System Announces Trimble as OB Director
Northeastern Health System Announces Trimble as OB Director

Northeastern Health System Announces Trimble as OB Director

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Northeastern Oklahoma Health System is pleased to announce the addition of Teina Trimble as the hospital’s new director of obstetrics. Trimble, who comes with more than 19 years of OB experience, has worked at NHS as a travel nurse for the past six years and is excited to call OB her permanent home.

“I started travel nursing in 2010 and took my first assignment here at NHS. I loved it so much I continued to come back and work here,” said Trimble. “It is a wonderful place to work. I think the thing that I like the very best is that the people here treat you like family. I was not a true employee of the hospital, yet the people made me feel like I was part of the family.”

Trimble graduated from NEO A&M collage in 1997. She then worked for a hospital for 13 years before deciding to become a travel nurse. Travel nurses typically fill gaps at facilities across the country due to extended absences, census fluctuations, staff training or other situations.

“We are ecstatic Teina has accepted the OB director position,” said Donna Dallis, NHS VP of Patient Care. “She is extremely dedicated to the field of nursing, continually strives to be the best she can, and gets along well with the other girls in the department.”

In addition to her many years of experience in OB, Trimble’s interpersonal skills make her a valued leader for the department.

“I try to listen with an open mind to everything the staff has to say,” said Trimble. “I am continually looking for ways to make the department flow better. “

Trimble credits her compassion and love of nursing to the time she spent caring for her ill mother.

“Taking care of my mom for 18 years while she was dying helped me realize I can make a difference in people’s lives,” said Trimble. “We stayed many days and nights in the hospital. I loved what the nurses did, so in my later years I went back to school and became a nurse.”

While she loved being a travel nurse, Trimble says she felt it was time to step into a position that would allow her to make a difference not only to the patients, but also to the staff.

“I love the girls I work with, and we have wonderful providers,” she said, “but, again, the thing I like best about this hospital is they make you feel like family. Everyone is so special and I feel like they treat their patients the same way.”

New Director to Help Improve Services at Northeastern Health System
Photo Caption: Tiffany Rush has recently been named as Director of the Medical/Surgical unit at Northeastern Healthy System. Her talent and expertise will add value to one of the busiest departments in the hospital.

Photo Caption: Tiffany Rush has recently been named as Director of the Medical/Surgical unit at Northeastern Healthy System. Her talent and expertise will add value to one of the busiest departments in the hospital.

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Tiffany Rush, RN, is proof that hard work pays off. Having worked for Northeastern Health System for six and a half years, Rush is excited about her new position as director of the Medical and Surgical (Med/Surg) unit. Understanding the changes in healthcare today, Rush intends to offer advanced education to staff in her department.

“My philosophy is ‘see one; do one; teach one.’ I think by sharing all you learn and being a teacher to those you’re in contact with, makes us all better equipped to provide the best care possible,” said Rush. “Patients are more acutely ill with chronic conditions and multiple comorbidities. It’s imperative that we keep up with evidenced-based practices and have positive outcomes.”

Rush began her NHS career as a nurse on the Med/Surg unit. She was soon promoted to charge nurse before moving up to serve as the hospital’s transfer coordinator and house supervisor.

“I feel the house supervisor position has been the most beneficial to prepare me for my new role as director,” she said. “NHS has recognized my potential, commitment and hard work, and they have allowed me these great opportunities to show all the skills I possess.”

The Med/Surg unit of the hospital is the unit that sees the greatest variety of patients, therefore providing the greatest learning environment.

“The patients are what make Med/Surg great,” said Rush. “This unit prepares a nurse mentally and physically and helps grow you into a person who learns respect, humility and team work.”

Northeastern Health System has long been known for providing excellence in healthcare. The numerous specialties provided are not commonly found in a rural hospital; however, the leadership at NHS has been committed to offering the community outstanding services close to home. Their success is evidenced by the tremendous growth experienced by the system, allowing them to branch out with services to surrounding communities.

“At NHS you’ll encounter the most caring and compassionate staff,” said Rush. “We all truly want your stay to be as pleasant and comfortable as possible during what is, undoubtedly, a not-so-pleasant time in your life.”

 

NHS Continuing to Invest in Ft. Gibson
Northeastern Health System is expanding its services in Ft. Gibson. Construction has already begun on the current facility and will add an additional 3,876 square feet to the current building, as well as adding three new family practice providers.

Northeastern Health System is expanding its services in Ft. Gibson. Construction has already begun on the current facility and will add an additional 3,876 square feet to the current building, as well as adding three new family practice providers.

 

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – In 2007, Northeastern Health System, then known as Tahlequah City Hospital, began construction projects amounting to more than $2.5 million in Ft. Gibson. These projects brought much needed healthcare to the area that has continued to thrive. As a result of the continued support and healthcare needs, NHS is once again investing in the Ft. Gibson community.
“We have seen a great need for more healthcare services in our surrounding communities,” said NHS VP of Operations, Mark McCroskey. “One of our goals is to offer quality healthcare close to home. The Ft. Gibson expansion will do just that.”
Construction, already underway, at the Ft. Gibson Medical Clinic is expected to be completed this November. It will add an additional 3,876 square feet to the current building, as well as adding three new family practice providers.
The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.
“The addition of more providers will make it easier for Ft. Gibson residents to get the healthcare they need in a timely manner,” said McCroskey. “We have loved serving our Ft. Gibson neighbors and are very excited to offer new services.”

NHS & Hastings Participate in Hospital Week
Brian Woodliff (left) and Jim Berry (far right) awarding Toni Kemp (middle) this year’s Biggest Loser award.

Brian Woodliff (left) and Jim Berry (far right) awarding Toni Kemp (middle) this year’s Biggest Loser award.

Recently, Northeastern Health System and W.W. Hastings Hospital joined forces to fight workforce obesity and host a conjoined family night sponsored by Cherokee Health Partners, W.W. Hastings Auxiliary and Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary. Activities included a weight-loss challenge, water balloon volleyball, inflatables, live music, food truck festival and money raised for the Tahlequah ROAR program and Tahlequah Food Pantry.

Two-thousand and sixteen marked the sixth year for the Biggest Loser competition between the two hospitals. NHS’s Toni Kemp won the overall competition with her loss of 45.4 pounds.  Runner’s up were Hastings employee Johnny Gilliam and NHS’s Nicole Little. Cumulatively, the hospital’s employees lost a combined weight of 635.7 pounds.

“Our two hospitals challenged each other to see which employee can lose the highest percentage of body weight over a three-month period,” said NHS President and CEO Brian Woodliff.  “Not only did this encourage our employees to choose healthier lifestyles, but it encouraged our two hospitals in a fun, healthy activity.”

This year’s family night took a different approach taking the focus off of competition and onto success both hospitals have had the last year. The Kickin’ Taco, Le Grubs and Soul Shack, all local food trucks, provided meals to all who attended. The Soul Shack sold out of food first securing the coveted Food Truck War trophy. The entertainment for the evening was the lively Rod Robertson Band. Other fun activities the attendees participated in were jump houses for the kids, horse shoes, a photo booth and drawings for fun prizes.

“We couldn’t offer quality healthcare if it weren’t for our employees,” said Woodliff.  “Hospital week activities are a fun way to acknowledge our employees and to let the staff of both hospitals interact.  We all work together to improve the overall health of this community and we are fortunate to have such a strong relationship with the Cherokee Nation.”

Topping off the week was a golf tournament was held at Cherokee Springs. Over $2,600 was collected from tournament that will go to the Tahlequah ROAR Program of Tahlequah Public Schools.

 

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

CS pill photoThe phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ has more truth to it than some may realize.

Studies performed at Cornell University suggest the quercetin found in apples protects brain cells against neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Eating foods such as apples are beneficial for over-all health and can aid in the prevention of illness which means less doctor visits!

While NHS wants their patients well, prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer. Evidence from studies show that overuse of antibiotics can create resistance in bacteria.

“Multi drug resistance can create what we call ‘super bugs’, said Jason Ballew, M.D. and Medical Director of ER. “This is serious because many infections no longer respond to antibiotics.”

A recent study by the CDC demonstrated that 1 out of 3 antibiotic prescriptions written in the United States is unnecessary.

Antibiotics have been a common form of treatment for illnesses such as Streptococcus Pharyngitis (Strep Throat) and Acute Otitis Media (ear infection), sinus infections, and bronchitis. Many recent studies have shown that they do not decrease the time of infection when compared against non-antibiotic treatments for these illnesses.

With strep-throat, in particular, we’ve learned that giving a single dose of steroids gets patients feeling better much more quickly than giving antibiotics.  Getting the patient feeling better is what it’s all about.

Beginning in January of 2015, Northeastern Health System and W.W. Hastings initiated a committee called Tahlequah’s Best Practice Committee. The TBPC applies national trends in healthcare including accountability when prescribing antibiotics in order to provide care that surpasses expectations. By doing so, TBPC promotes wellness in the community, which is the top priority, and enhances education to medical providers in surrounding areas.

We Can ALL Help SomeONE
Hershal headshot

Hershel Faucett, Housekeeper at Northeastern Health System

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” This quote by Ronald Regan is powerful in its meaning. Often times, taking the initiative to help one person can make more of an impact than we may realize.

Hershel Faucett, an employee at NHS, decided to pay it forward and lend a helping hand to a patient at one of our clinics. Here is his story.

Throughout Hershel’s day to day work routine, he would often see the same man waiting to be picked up after his appointment. He noticed the man seemed down in the dumps so Hershel thought he would strike up a conversation with him to change that.

“I just went up to him and introduced myself and he did the same,” said Hershel. “We would talk every time we saw each other and the topic was often over fishing because we both enjoy that hobby very much. I just wanted to cheer him up and let him know that even though he was in the shape that he was in, his life was still meaningful. I didn’t want him to lose hope.”

After several encounters, Hershel and the man became good friends. He noticed a change in the man.

“As time went on, I noticed he seemed more hopeful about life,” said Hershel. “He became more outgoing and happy.”

The man’s wheelchair caught Hershel’s attention one day. He saw that it was in poor condition. It was becoming tattered, old and not functioning as it should. Once again, Hershel felt called to do something about it.

“I noticed his wheelchair wasn’t going to last much longer so I asked him if he had talked to anyone about replacing it,” said Hershel. “He said he hadn’t thought about it and he was just thankful to have it. I asked him if it was ok for me to call around and see what I could do about getting him a new one.”

Hershel and his wife Rose began to call different businesses and ask around about a wheelchair. Together they were able to get a wheelchair that was in excellent condition for Hershel’s new friend.

“The only thing it needed was foot rests so I was able to get some from maintenance at NHS and put those on,” said Hershel. “When I gave him the wheelchair he was delighted. He gave me a great big smile and was so thankful for it. I’ve always had a place in my heart to help others. When I noticed the condition of his wheelchair, I felt led to do something about it.”

Prior to joining NHS, Hershel and his wife worked for a non-profit organization in Texas. They lived with 18 disabled men and women helping take care of them by giving them a better quality of life.

“My favorite thing about working there was being able to show the men and women that we cared about them,” said Hershel. “We would take them on a big trip once a year and we traveled to places like

Nashville, Branson and even Tahlequah for the Labor Day festivals. We knew we wanted to reside in Tahlequah permanently.”

After retiring and moving to Tahlequah, Hershel wanted to work again. Andy Klutts, NHS Director of Environmental Services, was a friend of Hershel’s and told him about a position he had open.

“Andy encouraged me to apply at Northeastern Health System,” said Hershel. “It seemed like the right place for me so I applied and have never regretted it. I’ve been here a year and a half now and I dearly love it.”

We admire Hershel’s dedication to our hospital and his desire to help those around him. He saw someone that he could help make a difference in their life and he did just that. We are proud to have Hershel a part of our NHS team.

Your Health; Our Promise
Tim Green, RN, CVICU, Sherry Owen, RRT, Cardiopulmonary and Rene Botts, RN, MICU prepare ventilator settings for a patient.

Tim Green, RN, CVICU, Sherry Owen, RRT, Cardiopulmonary and Rene Botts, RN, MICU prepare ventilator settings for a patient.

Your health is our main concern. Our promise is to provide the best care, always respect your privacy and continually improve hospital care for generations to come.

Hospitals are constantly buzzing with people in and out for different reasons. Whether a patient is in our care due to an injury or an illness, we do not want their recovery to be hindered by a hospital acquired condition.

Ventilator Acquired Pneumonia, also known as VAP, is a lung infection that can occur in hospitals when a patient is placed on a ventilator. A ventilator is a machine that helps a patient breath. Utilizing the machine allows the body to rest assisting in the healing process.

Patients have a greater chance of acquiring VAP the longer they are on a ventilator. This can potentially leave the patient with more problems than they had at admission.

“Weaning our patients off of the ventilator as soon as possible should be the goal for all caregivers,” said Sandy Henry, Director of Cardiopulmonary. “However, what caused the patient to be on the ventilator in the first place should be addressed.”

Most common reasons patients are put on a ventilator:

  • Acute respiratory distress
  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Pneumonia
  • Overdose
  • Post-operative complication (after surgery)

Our physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, lab/x-ray technicians, pharmacists and infection control officer all implement Ventilator Management which they call ‘the bundle’ to prevent VAP from occurring in our patients.

Steps taken during “the bundle”:

  • Keeping the head of the bed at or above 30 degrees to prevent aspiration of secretions
  • Frequent oral care to reduce growth of bacteria
  • Turning feeding tubes off when moving patient or lowering the head of the bed
  • Waking the patient daily to allow them to breathe on their own also known as ‘sedation interruption’
  • Medication to prevent gastric reflux which leads to aspiration (a frequent cause of pneumonia)

“It is important that we completely eliminate VAP,” said Cheri. “No matter what type of illness has caused our patients to be put on ventilator, we have been able to prevent VAP by utilizing ‘the bundle’ in our patients’ care plan. Thanks to our dedicated team, NHS has had a great outcome for 2015.”

Our Infection Control Officer, Cheri Oglesbee, audits our ventilator use every month for every patient. Her audits consist of tracking the number of patients on a ventilator, total number of ventilator days generated, signs/symptoms of developing infection, the average length of stay for our patients and reporting the outcome.

  • NHS VAP cases for 2015 = 0
  • NHS VAP cases for 2014 = 4
  • NHS VAP cases for 2013 = 4

“Patients at our hospital are vulnerable,” said Julie Potts, AVP of Quality, Safety & Accreditation. “While our main concern is treating their admitted diagnosis, we are continuously monitoring their surrounding environment to ensure their safety. The fact that NHS experienced zero VAP cases for 2015 means that our staff are surpassing National standards – that is something our community should be proud of.”

Our NHS team members work together to practice evidence based medicine which assists in the prevention of VAP. We are proud of their efforts and excited to announce we had zero patients acquire Ventilator Associated Pneumonia for 2015!

Extraordinary Physician Returns to NHS
Brian Woodliff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northeastern Health System, Charles Gosnell, M.D. and new Trustee of the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board, Jim Berry, Hospital Administrator and Vice President of Northeastern Health System.

Brian Woodliff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northeastern Health System, Charles Gosnell, M.D. and new Trustee of the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board, Jim Berry, Hospital Administrator and Vice President of Northeastern Health System.

Our halls have missed Dr. Gosnell. After 12 years of retirement he is back serving as a trustee on the Tahlequah Hospital Authority. His medical expertise, heart for the community and his proven leadership made him a natural fit for the newly opened seat.

“Dr. Gosnell’s reputation, broad range of medical experience and knowledge of the internal workings of hospitals and health systems made him the ideal candidate to take on the physician representative position on the Board of Trustees,” said Brian Woodliff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northeastern Health System. “He will bring integrity and mission to every decision he supports.”

Charles attended the University Of Oklahoma College Of Medicine where he graduated with his doctorate in 1967. After graduation, Charles completed his residencies and his fellowship in imaging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1981 specializing in diagnostic radiology and nuclear radiology.

Charles has served in many leadership roles, but not limited to:

  • Director of Emergency at St Francis Hospital
  • Founder and President of Emergency Care Inc. at St Francis Hospital
  • Assistant Professor of Radiology and Chief of Nuclear Medicine at City of Faith Medical Center
  • Chairman of the Radiation Safety Committee at City of Faith Medical Center
  • Chairman of the Radiation Safety Committee at Northeastern Health System
  • Medical Director of Radiology at Northeastern Health System
  • Team Physician for the University of Tulsa Basketball
  • Team Physician for Missouri Valley All Star Basketball during their Brazil Tour
  • Medical Director for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (current)
  • Advisory Board member for the Claremore Service Unit and Indian Hospital (current)

Charles proves his love for our community by his acts of service. With the constant desire to always give back, he has served as a mentor for Boys and Girls Club and as a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Tahlequah.

From the medical field to his military service, Charles has consistently led a life dedicated to serving others. He faithfully served our country in the United States Navy Reserves beginning in 1968 to 1977. He was deployed to Vietnam on active duty attached to the Marines as a physician from 1969 to 1970. His efforts in the military did not go unnoticed and he was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal. He was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant Commander in 1977.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve with the type of leader Charles is,” said Gary Harrington, Chairman of the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board. “He has served our community in many leadership roles with an unwavering focus on our regional providers delivering the best healthcare to our part of the state.”

We are delighted to proudly welcome Dr. Charles Gosnell to the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board of Trustees!

Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary: Ambassadors of Goodwill, Service and Compassion

Being as it is National Volunteer Week we recognize our dedicated Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers for their selfless hearts and the helping hands they lend all over our hospital.

Behind the scenes at NHS are over 50 tireless volunteers who work hard each day to ensure every patient’s stay at the hospital is as comfortable as possible.

“Throughout the years the Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary has served as ambassadors of goodwill, service and compassion,” said Vice President of Patient Care and Risk Manager Donna Dallis, MS, RN, CPHRM. “Not only do they provide financial support for our hospital, their smiling faces and caring hearts touch our patients, staff and the community every day.”

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, Auxiliary members will be recognized with an awards luncheon hosted by NHS Administration. During the special event the volunteers will receive their certification of appreciation, hours of service pin and door prizes of all sorts.

“We are fortunate to have such kind and giving volunteers,” said Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “It is an honor to recognize those who have selflessly given so much.”

The Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers serve in multiple different departments; they operate the gift shop; deliver newspapers throughout the hospital; assist at Admitting/Patient Registration, Same Day Surgery and Main Lobby information desks. Additionally, a group of THA volunteers operate Remarkables resale shop downtown Tahlequah.

For more information about the Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary, please call 918-453-2105.

Investing in the Future of Healthcare

IMG_1692 (003)Over 40 Indian Capital Technology Center students toured NHS today to get a first-hand look at the diversity of job opportunities the campus has to offer. Out of the 40 students, 20 (pictured) recently graduated ICTC’s CNA program and are looking to put their new certification to use!

Students were introduced to staff from all of the nursing units and had conversations with various unit directors, doctors and other NHS employees. These students are on their way to do big things in the healthcare field and we could not be happier that they toured our facility!

“I love the opportunity to take what the students are learning in class and watch it ‘come to life’ during our campus tours,” said Erielle Stout, Director of Patient and Public Relations. “These students are at such an impressionable stage where they are making decisions that will effect where they live, what career path they choose and who their employer of choice will be. Giving these students reasons to want to stay in Tahlequah, become invested in our community and help improve the lives of our neighbors through healthcare is the highlight of my day!”

If you know someone that would benefit from taking a tour of our facility to see what NHS has to offer, have them contact Erielle Stout at estout@nhs-ok.org!

Big City Technology, Small Town Feel

Radiology (002)Each Thursday we like to take time to highlight a specific department, say a genuine thank you for the quality of care they provide for our patients. Today, we visited with our Director of Radiology, Daniel Hannon to talk with him about the importance of his departments to the hospital and what they mean to him. Here is what he had to say,

“Here at NHS we are able to provide services and technologies that are typically found in larger cities while maintaining that small town feel for our patients,” said Hannon. “I am very proud to work with a team that takes so much pride in providing such specialized care for their community. In the 18 years of my imaging career I have never seen a more specialized staff. All of our Technologists are Board Certified specifically to their particular modality. This is just one more example of our hospital’s commitment to quality care and best practices for our patients.”

We are thankful for our Radiology team and the advanced care they provide for our patients. These staff who specialize in medical imaging such as x-rays, CTs, MRIs, PETs, fusion imaging and ultrasound help SAVE LIVES!

Springtime Pasta and Beans

food-pasta-tomato-theme-workspaces

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Kidney Beans, a Mixture of Black Beans or other favorite Beans

6 ounces uncooked or farfalle (bow tie pasta)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

6 center-cut lean ham slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups sliced red onion

8 garlic cloves, sliced

3 ounces thinly sliced mushrooms

1 cup fresh shelled or frozen green peas, thawed

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 ounces fresh Shredded Parmesan cheese (about 6 tablespoons)

1/2 cup torn basil leaves (fresh)

Preparation

Place uncooked beans in a large pot of boiling water cook 1 minute

Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted water

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat

Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat

Add ham sauté 3 minutes or until ham begins to brown

Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender

Add mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown

Add kidney beans and peas, sauté 2 minutes

Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil, pasta, juice, and salt, cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated

Remove pan from heat

Stir in 3 tablespoons cheese

Divide pasta mixture evenly among 4 bowls, and top evenly with remaining 3 tablespoons cheese and basil

NHS Celebrates National Patient Access Week
group shot

Patient Financial Services Staff

This week, April 3rd-9th, we celebrated national Patient Access Week. Patient Access Week acknowledges the unique contribution patient access associates have on the patient experience. Patient Access associates are the first person patients and visitors encounter in a health care organization. These dedicated staff members fill the roles of receptionists, registration, insurance verification, financial counseling, and scheduling in the health care organization.

The Patient Access Week is sponsored by the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM). NAHAM promotes best practices, standards, and subject matter expertise to influence and promote high quality delivery of Patient Access Services. NAHAM accomplishes its mission through networking, education, and certification opportunities.

In 2015, NAHAM launched AccessKeys. These key performance indicators allow NAHAM members to implement, track, and benchmark service delivery. In 2016, NAHAM will launch further benchmarking keys specifically related to Patient Experience.

We spoke with a few of our employees regarding this national week and what it means to the hospital, here is what they had to say,

“It is very rewarding to know we are able to assist our patients in meeting their healthcare needs,” said Director of Patient Access, Jackie Hullinger. “Scheduling and registering our patients for their procedures as well as educating them about their insurance are all key roles that help the individual departments of this hospital. I am thankful to work with these dedicated people so this week is about showing them how much they are appreciated.”

“Patient Financial Services is a unique department designed to ensure that our patients have a pleasant experience after they have received services at our hospital,” said Patient Financial Services Supervisor, Keeli Duncan. “We are equipped to advise patients on any billing, insurance or payment questions. I am honored to work with such a dedicated and customer oriented staff, and cannot wait to see the accomplishments that this department will have in the future.”

Leadership in both departments shed some love on their staff by organizing daily events throughout the week to show their appreciation. Events included department breakfast and lunch, a candy buffet, service pins, goodie bags, personalized cards and a bulletin board to share thankful messages between co-workers.

Patient Access Staff

Patient Access Staff

HIM Department Stepping Up to the Plate
HIM cropped

NHS Health Information Management Staff

April 4th-9th is National Health Information Professionals Week. During this week we honor and celebrate our health information professionals. The NHS Health Information Management (HIM) department plays a key role in the effective management of health, data and medical records needed to deliver quality healthcare to the public.

We sat down and spoke with Cindy about her department and the importance of her staff’s efforts. Here’s what she had to say,

“The health information technology revolution has been in full swing for some time now, and as technology progresses, the changes that have occurred in the HIM department has left the profession profoundly different since I entered the paper medical record world ten years ago. In record time and at an unprecedented pace, the electronic health record (EHR) has spurred a revolutionary change in HIM departments throughout the country. Our HIM department has stepped up to the plate many times over the years and has met many challenges with a ‘can do’ spirit and will continue to adapt and thrive in this fast paced high-tech world. I’m very proud to be on this champion HIM team and look forward to the high-tech journey we are on!”

In an effort to display appreciation for their staff, the HIM Department leadership organized daily event for their staff. Events include a department breakfast, an ice cream social, a luncheon and pins and certifications of appreciation.

New Director Chooses NHS for Their Excellence in Healthcare
Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas, Director of Life Safety.

We are pleased to introduce Mike Thomas, Director of Life Safety, to our team.

Mike’s new role is to evaluate life safety code compliance. He verifies procedures, inspects patient care areas and ensures compliance.

“Each area of the hospital has to be designed for the type of healthcare it provides,” said Mike. “I make sure that every department is maintained and in compliance with state regulations and federal codes.”

Mike graduated from Okmulgee Tech as a licensed plumber and pipe fitter. He designed and installed plumbing for hospitals from the ground up; then took a turn in his career and went to work for McAlester Regional as the Director of Plant Operations. Prior to NHS, Mike served as a Health Facilities Consultant with OSDH for 19 years.

Because of Mike’s broad experience in healthcare, he was selected by our state leaders to be an inspector for hospitals not only in Oklahoma, but across the United States. He has inspected every single hospital in our state with the exception of Altus.

“Out of every single hospital in the state of Oklahoma, I chose NHS,” said Mike. “I came to work for this hospital because of our excellence in healthcare and the goals we set for ourselves. I knew I wanted to be a part of that.”

Mike is native to Oklahoma and grew up in McAlester. He has been married to his wife Pam, for 37 years. Together they have 2 sons and 5 grandchildren. In Mike’s free time, he enjoys being around family and loved ones.

3 fun facts about Mike Thomas:

  • His favorite music is classic rock
  • He trains race horses
  • He is good at voice impersonations (Bill Clinton)

Welcome to NHS, Mike. We are proud to have you as part of our team!

 

Career Nurse Climbs the Ranks to Oversee NHS’ Patient Care
Donna head shot

Description: Donna Dallis, Vice President of Patient Care.

“I never thought I would leave the bedside.”

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Donna Dallis’ medical career began simply enough as a teenage nurse’s aide, providing basic care in a nursing home for “two dollars and a nickel per hour.”

“I liked it,” Dallas says. “I never thought I would leave the bedside.”

Of course, that was some time ago, and so much has changed since then. Minimum wages have gone up. Technology has improved with the change in centuries. The medical needs are still there, but the care has gotten so much better.

And Donna Dallis has left the floor – but not before accumulating several nursing degrees and working her way into becoming Vice President of Patient Care here at Northeastern Health System.

“It may sound corny, but I miss the floor,” says Dallis, who is as down home as they come.

In her new role, however, she is able to provide so many more patients with the care and dedication so common among the staff at Northeastern Health System. Already responsible for the pharmacy, lab and clinical departments, Dallis has been entrusted this year with the hospital’s top-flight radiology and physical therapy departments and its cutting-edge Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center.

“I’m caring for the patient through someone else,” Dallis says. “I work with the patients when they have a concern (about their care).”

Asked whether she still feels the urge to jump in and help the nursing staff, Dallis says, “I don’t step into the room. I try to help them from the administrative side.”

Dallis comes from a family of nurses, but it should be noted she was first. Her mother and sister have since followed her into the profession, and her daughter is a traveling pediatric nurse, working 13-week stints at hospitals around the country. No word yet on what careers her two grandchildren are considering.

“As many people as I can push into healthcare, I do,” Dallis says. Indeed, she proudly notes newborns at Northeastern Health System are outfitted with onesies that come with little stethoscopes printed on the front.

Dallis joined the staff at Northeastern Health System in 1990, and has been here ever since.

“Yes, that’s very rare,” she says.

Along the way, Dallis has earned an associate’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree and her registered nurse certification and a master’s degree in science from Oklahoma University. She gave up her nursing scrubs in 2000 to become the hospital’s Director of Outpatient Surgery.

“Healthcare … was pretty simple in the 1990s. It least it was to me, as a (licensed practicing nurse) on the floor,” Dallis says. “I’ve learned a lot since then, believe me. As an LPN, the more I increased my knowledge, the more I wanted to learn.

“Now, the more I know about how a hospital is run, the more I want to know. By nature, I just like to be involved. There’s something in healthcare for absolutely everybody.”

Indeed, if there’s a medical specialty, Northeastern Health System has it. It has a heart center to go with its cancer center. It boasts one of the top-rated dialysis units in the nation. It offers oncologists, gastroenterologists, pediatricians, pulmonologists and just about everything in between – including dietary experts.

“We’re bringing people to town a hospital our size doesn’t normally do,” Dallis says, calling the growth “amazing.”

Dallis has seen the hospital’s staff more than quadruple in the last 13 years, from almost 200 to about 900. All of which means as the range of services grows, the less patients have to rely on health facilities elsewhere to get the quality care they need.

“A lot of our patients don’t drive, so it’s less of a burden on their families,” Dallis says. “Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined what Northeastern Health System has turned into.”

 

NHS’ Medical Specialties Prove Community’s Size Doesn’t Matter

Dr. Simpson Adds GI Practice to Hospital’s Other Growing Practices

Bill Simpson head shot

Dr. Bill Simpson, M.D., FACP

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern Health System sits alongside United States Highway 62 in this idyllic community, which stretches out across the rolling hills of eastern Oklahoma. The town’s population has only recently eclipsed 15,000, which makes you wonder how it supports a hospital the size and quality of Northeastern.

Simple. Tahlequah sits squarely in the center of Cherokee County and its 50,000 residents, and the hospital has a close relationship with the Cherokee Nation. That gives so many more people access to Northeastern Health System, it’s cancer center and heart center, and its other state-of-the-art health services.

“It’s the size of the surrounding communities,” says Dr. Bill Simpson, who heads up Northeastern Health System’s gastroenterology (GI) practice. “To support one GI … the size of the town would have to be more than 15,000. But it’s a lot more than 15,000 here.

“Plus, you have the Cherokee Nation and all of its patients. Half my practice is probably referrals from the Cherokee Nation providers. It’s a win-win. The hospital gets patients, and the Nation is able to provide service to their patients at the local level, and at reduced costs.”

Dr. Simpson was brought in to establish Northeastern Health System’s GI practice, diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system. He quickly realized – as all the hospital newcomers do – that by offering specialized services, patients no longer need to travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma City or even Arkansas for top-flight medical care.

“There’s an unmet need here,” says Dr. Simpson. “When hospitals grow out of rural hospitals into being regional centers, you need specialists. The physicians can’t all be PCPs (primary care physicians).”

In recent years, Northeastern Health System has added cardiovascular, urology, pulmonary critical care and orthopedic specialists.

“And now a spine surgeon,” Dr. Simpson says. “Some things need to go to a higher level of care, but there was a lot of stuff not being done here that can now be done at a high level without patients traveling somewhere.”

Dr. Simpson also lends his considerable talents to the hospital’s residency program, which began a partnership with Oklahoma State’s medical school in 2009. Twenty-two med school graduates participate in Northeastern Health System’s two residency programs – Family Medicine and Internal Medicine – hoping to join the knowledgeable, skilled and compassionate physicians that have gone before them.

“We need to educate those young doctors, and I just enjoy teaching. Always have. It’s fun to help them develop as professionals,” Dr. Simpson says.

Like Northeastern Health System’s alliance with Cherokee Health Partners, the residency program helps everyone it touches.

“Teaching requires you stay current, competent, stimulated … that benefits both the physician and the hospital, but it also benefits the patients and the community. We’re bringing doctors to a town this size that we would have trouble recruiting otherwise.”

A Kentucky native, Dr. Simpson is nearing the end of his first year in Tahlequah. He moved here from East Texas, where he helped set up another GI practice, to be with his fiancé – and he couldn’t be happier.

“I love it here. It’s a nice-sized community,” Dr. Simpson says. “It’s a small town, but with the amenities of a larger city, if you need it.”

The feeling is mutual.

NHS Promotes Director to New Position
Julie Potts, NHS Assistant Vice President of Quality, Safety & Accreditation.

Julie Potts, NHS Assistant Vice President of Quality, Safety & Accreditation.

Northeastern Health System is pleased to announce that Julie Potts, BSN, RN, has been promoted from Director of Performance Improvement to Assistant Vice President of Quality, Safety & Accreditation.

Potts’ new role will enforce the importance of quality and safety in patient care to a new level of oversight. Her responsibility is to proactively address risk management and patient safety while continuously making improvements. Potts is committed to listening to the concerns that patients and their families might have to help advance current processes and apply best practices to the delivery of care provided by NHS.

“The goal is to align quality and safety standards to CMS standards,” said Potts. “We want to make sure we are providing the best care and are able to meet regulatory guidelines at any given notice.”

Potts has over 16 years of nursing experience. Her background includes hospital setting, home health and hospice. She came to NHS in 2005 working as a nurse in the Med-Surg department and a few months later was offered the position as Director of Med-Surg; she has been in leadership roles ever since.

“I always felt that nursing was my calling,” said Potts. “I have a heart for helping people and nursing is an amazing way to minister to others.”

Potts has three children, Maranda, Madison and Dustin. She stays busy with all of their extra-curricular activities and school functions. Potts is native to Northeast OK and graduated from Hulbert High School. In her free time she enjoys spending time with loved ones, watching movies and being outdoors. Potts next goal is to pursue a Master’s degree in nursing.

VP Gets Personal Look at Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center
Phyllis Smith, Vice President of Human Resources

Phyllis Smith, Vice President of Human Resources

NHS Staff Gives Smith Same Care, Dedication as All Cancer Patients

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – It’s a simple computer-generated certificate, like you one you would get for perfect attendance or baking muffins for a school event. Taped to the wall as it is, the certificate might as well be just another piece of paper on your typical cluttered office.

That is, until you read the not-so-fine print: “Certificate of Completion of Radiation Therapy. Presented, October 23, 2014 to Phyllis Smith.” It bears five signatures, with one person having scrawled, “You have been awesome.”

To Phyllis Smith, Northeastern Health System’s Vice President of Human Resources and Safety, the certificate might as well be worthy of a gilded frame and hung in the Louvre.

“They were my cheerleaders, my counselors,” Smith says of the Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center’s staff, who guided her through cancer treatment last year.

Smith’s cancer is in remission now, thanks in no small part to the Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center’s quality care and its staff. To them, she was not the HR person who sometimes had to deal with tough issues. To them, she was another patient that deserved every bit of the knowledge and compassion they had to offer – just like everyone else who came through their lobby doors.

“Anytime you receive medical care from people you know, it’s weird. They see you at your worst,” Smith says. “There were days I went in and I didn’t think I could do it anymore … but they were phenomenal. When I see them now, it’s, ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ “

Smith’s life changed in August 2014, when a colonoscopy she had delayed for six years came back with a diagnosis of colon cancer. She immediately began chemo and radiation treatment, the latter requiring five visits a week to NHS’ cancer center for five and a half weeks.

Instead of helping her daughter through her first pregnancy, Smith found herself relying on the assistance of others. But while painful and trying, the experience gave Smith a first-hand look at how NHS’ staff cares for its patients – and a new-found appreciation for the professions around her.

“You don’t go into (the medical) field thinking it’s going to be a happy place,” Smith says. “I don’t know how to explain it, but you’re working with some of the sickest people around, and you see how their lives have been disrupted.

“Every time the (center’s) door opened, (the staff) had smiles on their faces. ‘How are you doing today?’ I saw how the staff treated me, I saw how the staff treated others. When you’re doing chemo, you’re in the same room with other people doing chemo. You don’t know the names, the history, the stories, but you know they’re going through the same treatment you are.”

Smith’s radiation treatments ended in September 2014, but she still had to undergo an additional four months of chemo and several painful surgeries.

“I was blessed. I would come to work and at 7 or 8 and at 2:30, I would walk downstairs (for chemo),” says Smith, who then had a 15-minute window to get home. “I worked through most of the treatments. Some days, you feel like there’s nothing wrong with your body. Other days, you feel like you couldn’t function. Sometimes, I would show up at work and say, ‘Sorry, I can’t do this,’ and turn around and go home.”

Smith lost close to 50 pounds during the ordeal – “It was a horrible way to lose weight, but I’m blessed I had some to lose,” she says – but now that it’s behind her, she can only marvel at the skill and dedication of those who helped her through the worst of times.

“They just kept telling me I was a blessing to them,” Smith says. “They told me I was a real good patient … I didn’t see that. I would go in crying.”

Her treatments ended in May and in July, a checkup could not find a single cancer cell in her body. Smith is back at work full time, but she also has a grandson, Brock, to keep her busy as well.

“I’m blessed, not only to have the cancer center here, but to have been treated by people I know, that I consider my friends.”

NHS Welcomes New Executive
Connie head shot

Connie Obenrader, NHS Assistant Vice President of Operational Nursing.

Northeastern Health System is pleased to introduce Connie Obenrader, MS, RN, NE-BC, to the NHS team as the new Assistant Vice President of Operational Nursing.

Connie’s role will provide support to the Vice President of Patient Care as well as the physicians, nursing leadership and clinical coordinators of our OR/OPS, CCU, ICU and Infusion department.

Obenrader’s responsibilities are to make sure we have the right services in place in each unit for the community and to manage our resources in an effective manner.

“I came to Tahlequah because I wanted to help build the resources to support a small yet growing community,” said Obenrader. “I wanted to be a part of an expanding health system that strives to provide excellent care. We are small in size, but there is no reason why our quality of care can’t be just as good as hospitals in Tulsa, OKC and Fayetteville. We want the citizens of this community to want to come here and receive care and not feel like they have to drive somewhere else to be taken care of.”

Obenrader has experience in a broad spectrum of healthcare roles and environments. She has worked in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), long-term care, physician practices, ER, Labor & Delivery, Pediatrics, Dialysis and served as the Director of Operations in Hospice and Home Health.

“The goal was to always learn as much as I could about healthcare in all of its forms,” said Obenrader. “I felt being experienced in many areas of healthcare would allow me to truly understand what’s possible and be able to lead teams with high expectations.”

Connie is married to her husband John, who is a retired Army Veteran and together they have 6 children. Her husband owns an archery business and he is excited to relocate it to Tahlequah. She is native to Northeast OK and grew up in Chelsea, OK. She is currently working on earning her doctorate in Nursing Practice from Duke University. When Connie is not at work she enjoys shooting her bow, cooking, playing the piano and has big plans to take sailing lessons this summer with her daughter.

NHS’ Dr. Moore Humble, But Casts Large Shadow

ER Physician Shares Care – and Goodwill – Despite “Constant Triage”

Dr. Mary Moore in her preferred work setting.

Dr. Mary Moore in her preferred work setting.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Mary K. Moore is a diminutive woman, but large in spirit. So large, in fact, those who work alongside the emergency department physician at Northeastern Health System Tahlequah would rather they’re not limited to just one Mary K. Moore.

“I wish we could clone her,” says Becky Abshier, Director of Emergency Department at Northeastern Health System. “We’d have four of them.”

While others in the hospital are still eating breakfast, Dr. Moore flits about the ED on a recent Thursday morning, dispensing good nature along with medical expertise. Outside, it’s a peaceful, crisp Oklahoma fall morning. In the ER, it’s anything but.

Her hair pulled back neatly in a bun, Dr. Moore checks on an “elderly gentleman” who passed out at home. She is working with a second patient to manage his blood pressure and heart rate. Finally, she is trying to decide whether a third medical emergency may need a cardiovascular surgeon.

Despite the intensive atmosphere, she has time for a smile and a kind word with those around her, exemplifying the exceptional and quality care provided by the Northeastern Health System’s staff.

“I don’t have the luxury of scheduling patients,” Dr. Moore says. “Sometimes, the ER can be overwhelming. You can’t reschedule anybody … you just know you have to take care of the patients.”

Dr. Moore, 46, began her medical training planning a career in pediatrics. But once she started her rotations, she found herself leaning to the emergency medicine and its constant flow of patients.

“I like the ability to see patients, evaluate them and get results back in a timely manner,” she says. “The ED is almost continuous triage. When we’re back here, you know who’s the sickest and who has to be taken care of first, and you take it from there.”

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Dr. Moore grew up in Tahlequah and in Sallisaw. She has been on staff since 2009, after first completing her payback to Indian Health Services following graduation from Oklahoma State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tulsa.

Dr. Moore is so good at what she does she found herself featured last year in the New York Times’ health and wellness blog, Well. The case concerned a 19-year-old man who collapsed at work several years ago after months of increased weakness and vomiting. The young man’s previous visits to Northeastern Health System’s ER resulted in diagnoses of dehydration – until Dr. Moore treated him.

As the Times put it, “an E.R. doctor in (the) small-town Oklahoma hospital (put) it all together.”

Dr. Moore couldn’t believe her patient was 19. He was a little over 5 feet tall and weighed about 90 pounds. She checked records of his previous visits, ran some lab tests and did some reading.

Her diagnosis? Addison’s disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the adrenal glands “as if they were foreign invaders.” Dr. Moore started treatments immediately before eventually sending the patient to Tulsa for a specialist’s care.

Today, the young man has said he has gained 25 pounds and joined a local volunteer fire department.

The ever-humble Dr. Moore doesn’t mention the national publicity. Those that work alongside her know Dr. Moore’s was only concerned about providing not only a diagnosis, but an answer to the mystery behind the patient’s symptoms.

Northeastern Health System continues to add staff (almost 200) and specialists – urology, nephrology, cardiovascular, sports medicine – which may prevent Dr. Moore from sending other patients to Tulsa in the future.

“If we can keep more patients local, it’s not a burden for their families or their caregivers,” she says.

And just to be sure no one feels the burden, Dr. Moore is there. Even if she’s just one.

NHS Promotes Executive to New Position
Amy Williams, Vice President of System Clinical Operations

Amy Williams, Vice President of System Clinical Operations

Northeastern Health System is pleased to announce that Amy Williams, MSN, RN-CENP, has been promoted from Assistant Vice President of Clinical Operations to Vice President of System Clinical Operations.

Amy’s role will provide support for the health systems joint venture accounts going beyond the acute care facility. She will be focusing on joint ventures such as the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center and Cherokee Health Partners.

“I am excited to take on this new role to help further assist the development and expansion of our new and existing service lines,” said Williams. “This will allow us to serve a growing and more diverse population.”

Williams has over 20 years of nursing experience. She has gained knowledge working in different clinical settings such as cardiac catheterization lab, ambulatory surgery center, emergency room, cardiology center and internal medicine clinic. She also served as the Department Director of CCU and CVICU. Williams earned her Master of Science and Nursing from Oklahoma University in 2014 and was certified in Executive Nursing Practice in 2015.

“I have a family background in healthcare,” said Williams. “My mom is a nurse, too, so that influenced my career path and I’m thankful I chose nursing.”

Amy is married to her husband Brian who is a Nurse Practitioner in Tulsa, OK. Together they have two sons. Their eldest son Brett is newly married to wife Shae and they currently reside in Weatherford, OK. Their youngest son Brayden is a freshman at OSU. In Amy’s free time she enjoys spending time with her family, the outdoors, reading and gardening.

 

Heart Disease; Are you at risk?
Guest speaker Dr. Paula Guinnip, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, gives a presentation at the Heart Luncheon and educates the audience about heart disease.

Guest speaker Dr. Paula Guinnip, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, gives a presentation at the Heart Luncheon and educates the audience about heart disease.

Northeastern Health System hosted a Heart Luncheon Thursday Feb. 25 at the Armory in Tahlequah, OK which was sponsored by the Northeastern Oklahoma Heart Center. This event was influenced by the Go Red For Women Campaign and the fight against cardiovascular disease. The goal was to provide free education to the community about heart disease and prevention.

Served at the luncheon, was a four course meal designed by the NHS Culinary & Nutrition department. It was a heart healthy meal with a southwestern twist. They provided a salad, soup, main entrée and dessert keeping everyone satisfied during the presentation.

“The goal was to prepare a meal that was healthy without sacrificing flavor, said Lois Fladie, Registered Dietitian & Director of Culinary & Nutrition.  “This can only be done by using fresh foods and preparing from scratch.  Most participants didn’t miss the salt and fat for only 700 calories.”

The luncheon’s speaker was special guest, Dr. Paula Guinnip, Cardiovascular Surgeon. Guinnip provided a thorough presentation about the history of the Go Red For Women Campaign and shared some alarming statistics about heart disease in American women. She explained that the first step to fighting heart disease is educating the female population at an early age so they know the risks, signs, and the ways to prevent this silent killer.

“Cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year,” said Guinnip. “This means that nearly one woman is killed every 80 seconds from heart disease.”

Many women do not realize the risk factors of this disease. Here are the risk factors that you cannot control:

  • History of heart disease in your family
  • If you are 55 years of age or older
  • History of preeclampsia during any of your pregnancies
  • Diabetes

Here are the risk factors for heart disease that you can control.

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Your body weight
  • Your physical activity
  • Your alcohol intake
  • Birth control
  • Diet

Making lifestyle choices such as eating healthy, exercising, not smoking and keeping a normal weight for your body type can significantly lower your risk for heart disease by 82 percent! Taking these simple steps can take you on a road to a heart healthy lifestyle.

It is crucial to know the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. These symptoms differ from person to person so being aware of these and signs and knowing when to call for medical assistance can save your life. The symptoms are:

  • Chest pain (discomfort, pressure or squeezing)
  • Upper body pain (arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw or upper stomach)
  • Experience shortness of breath
  • Breaking out into a cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Light headedness

Keeping your healthcare provider informed about all of your questions and concerns regarding your heart health can improve your quality of life as well. It is important to ask your doctor detailed questions and to let them know if you have any changes in the behavior of your heart and your over-all health. So many women are at risk of heart disease and are not aware of it so by talking to your doctor and choosing to make heart healthy choices can prevent you from being the 1 in 3.

NHS Promotes Responsible Medication Management

pillsHave you ever taken an Advil or Tylenol when a headache arose or other forms of pain were present? Are you that person that takes a pain pill every time you feel acute pain, no matter what the cause is? It is important to know the side effects and potential dangers associated with all medications. These medications are called pain relievers because they simply relieve your pain, they do not cure an illness so knowing the difference is crucial. Therefore, if you continue to mask your symptoms with pain medication, the underlying problem can become serious.

Today, narcotics are medications prescribed by a physician to help relieve severe pain. While these medications are highly effective and highly addictive, they are intended for short term relief and not for chronic pain. Their long term use results in side effects that demonstrate these narcotics can do more harm than good.

These side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, headache and constipation. Another side effect from long term consumption of narcotics is kidney damage which can be fatal. The side effects from narcotics alone can be quite damaging to the body which is why it is important to take the medication as directed and monitor your body’s reaction.

The state of Oklahoma now regulates the amount of narcotics physicians can prescribe to help combat addiction. They are required to look up your personal prescriptive history, including the dosage and frequency, to monitor the signs of abuse. This helps keep the physician as well as the patient accountable.

“Many patients become addicted to prescription pain relievers, so much that the federal and state governments are using the word ‘epidemic’,” said Jim Berry, Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator. “NHS and its physicians believe that we shouldn’t do anything that harms patients. This includes contributing to their addiction.”

It is important to always keep your primary healthcare provider in the know for the good of your overall health.

NHS Launches News Service

Sharing the Stories of Our Staff, Patients, and Community

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Northeastern Health System launches a news service with stories about healthy living, feature stories on staff members, and highlighting important community events.

The stories will be distributed on the hospital’s website, although the organization plans on leveraging and growing its social media presence to engage employees, patients, and members of the community as a virtual town square where everyone has the opportunity to engage in the things that are important to them, said Erielle Stout, Director of Patient and Public Relations.

“Every day I’m out on Facebook or Twitter and I see stories about doctors or nurses doing something amazing but I know firsthand that so many of our doctors and nurses have done that much or more,” she said. “I don’t think that many people realize the tremendous resources that are available here and this is our chance to share that.”

Stout also noted that many of the healthy living stories she sees are written by and for people in large cities or in areas different than Tahlequah.

“When we give advice about healthy living, it will be from our on-staff experts who live and work in Cherokee County and understand our community. This is about neighbors sharing information and interesting stories, which is what our community is all about,” Stout said.

The stories will be more than just the biographies of the staff. They will delve into the person’s interests and hobbies, because staff at NHS are interesting people who have so much to share. And, as NHS shares them on social media, they can be shared hundreds of times much more effectively than other communications channels.

“This allows everyone to read the stories when it’s convenient to them. Whether you’re online for hours a day or even every couple of days, the stories will be there when it’s convenient to them,” said Stout.

Brian Woodliff, CEO of Northeastern Health Systems, said this new initiative is widely used outside the health care industry.

“As we researched this initiative, what we found is that nearly all of the Fortune 100 companies have initiatives like this because it is highly effective and customers find it valuable,” he said. “This is just one example of NHS’s initiative to find effective tools and processes that are used outside the health care industry to be more accessible to our customers and community, as well as improve overall service at NHS. This is the first of many to come.”

Stout also noted that this news service would be able to provide timely information in the event of major events, such as weather.

Follow NHS on Facebook and Twitter to see the latest stories as they’re posted.

NHS Raises Awareness about Alzheimer’s disease

More than three million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) every year which accounts for 60-70% of dementia cases. Dementia is a term that means memory loss and/or issues with the brain’s thought process. At Northeastern Health System, we believe our mission includes education and awareness about disease and the disease processes.

The most common sign of early stages of AD is difficulty remembering recent events. Other signs and symptoms are:

  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words or spoken or written
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdraw from work or social activities and changes in mood or personality

There are tests and tools that can help diagnose the causes of AD such as: researching medical history, physical and diagnostic testing, genetic testing, neurological testing, mental status testing and brain imaging.

“AD is a terrible disease that ravages our aging society,” said Kay Johnson, Solutions Supervisor. “There is a stigma that prevents an approach to early prevention so we need to be proactive. Although there is no cure this does not mean that there is no treatment.”

Research shows that you can lower your risk of being diagnosed with AD by continual stimulation of your brain by learning new things as you age. Engaging in group activities is essential. Taking classes, learning a new language, solving a puzzle or playing a musical instrument to name a few, are all great ways to ensure brain stimulation.

Research indicates that pharmaceutical drugs and consumption of vitamin E which has antioxidant properties that have been known to help protect brain cells. There is no cure for AD at this time, but early diagnoses and treatment are the best ways to stay on top of this disease.

NHS Supports National Wear Red Day and the Go Red for Women Campaign

Wear Red DayThe American Heart Association decided to take action and declare February National Heart Month due to heart disease claiming the lives of thousands of American women every year.   The theme is geared towards raising awareness by educating the female population on the tell-tale signs of heart disease and also helps women learn how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

“Heart disease knows no boundaries,” said Dr. Guinnip, M.D. Cardiothoracic Surgeon. “More than a decade ago, the AHA discovered that heart disease killed more women than men. This is why it is crucial for the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center to keep our community informed about the advancements.”

Our goal here at Northeastern Health System is to bring our staff as well as our community together to become advocates for women and the fight against heart disease. NHS will participate in the 2016 National Wear Red Day Friday, February 5 and we want to invite and encourage you to sport your favorite red clothing item in the name of the Go Red for Women Campaign.

“By wearing red, we can help raise awareness of cardiovascular disease,” said Amy Williams, Vice President of System Clinical Operations. “It is never too early to take initiative and protect your health. This month, help us fight this epidemic and continue to create a healthier community.”

If you have not already, please remember to like our Facebook page, Northeastern Health System, to keep up with the latest NHS news and events. You can also follow our Twitter account, @NHSTahlequah to view our health tweets and participate in our 2016 Marketing & Media campaign.

Tahlequah Hospital Foundation Hosts 11th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala
Adley Stump, entertainer, sings the National Anthem

Adley Stump, entertainer, sings the National Anthem

The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation hosted their 11th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala Saturday, January 16th. The event brought together over 600 supporters, sponsors and staff to celebrate the efforts of the 900 employees who make Northeastern Health System a health system to be proud of. Olivia Jordan, Miss USA 2015-2016, emceed the event while special guests Joette Berry, Adley Stump, Grady Nichols and Emerald City Band provided “Grammy Awards” like entertainment.

The evening is centered on an award ceremony recognizing six outstanding individuals that truly exemplify what it means to be committed to health care and to this community. Their work and dedication to the people they serve has left a lasting influence on Tahlequah and showcases the best of NHS.  Beth Herrington received the Dr. Mary Culver-Carlile Lifetime Achievement award for her contribution to the community and her profession. The Thompson Award was given to Gary Harrington and Mike Watkins for the important roles they played in the development of Tahlequah’s healthcare advancement. The Heart of Gold award was given to Christine Wofford for her outstanding dedication to the Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary department. The McIntosh, Masters and Medearis award was given to Dr. Tom and Dr. Donna Schneider for their exceptional clinical excellence to our community.

Brian Woodliff, President and CEO of NHS, shared the 2015 milestones with the crowd. The hospital’s system operating margin was the highest in their history, establishing the institution as a $240 million dollar non-profit organization. Because of this stability, NHS has the capabilities of investing in resources and care for the primary health burdens of the community that most rural communities go without such as: heart disease, cancer and kidney disease. Additionally, Woodliff announced new full-time services established to address common health issues in gastroenterology, critical care and pulmonology. Lastly, he thanked the crowd for their continued support that has made a difference in the lives of patients, especially those who are unable to help themselves. In 2015, NHS provided over $20 million in uncompensated care to those who may have otherwise gone without. In conclusion, Woodliff thanked the crowd for their continued support allowing the Foundation to provide over $198,000 in 2015 in aid to those pursuing a career in healthcare.

“Talent comes at a cost,” stated Brian Woodliff, President and CEO of NHS. “The Gala attendees support ensures that we remain competitive, attracting the healthcare professionals needed to provide the latest and most advanced care for our patients.”

The Foundation is already planning the 2017 Hearts of Gold Gala to continue to celebrate and support the innovations that NHS will achieve in 2016.

NHS Hosts Community Collaborative Meeting
Julie Potts, Director of Performance Improvement leads Community Collaborative meeting

Julie Potts, Director of Performance Improvement leads Community Collaborative meeting

The Northeastern Health System Community Collaborative Coalition was established in 2012 with the goal of uniting the hospital and local healthcare agencies quarterly to discuss patient needs. The group includes a transdisciplinary team of doctors, nursing, hospital administrators and discharge planners as well as representatives from local hospice agencies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and durable medical equipment companies. The group gathers to communicate new healthcare innovations, service lines, providers and regulatory changes.

“NHS aims to eliminate the communication gap in patient care,” said Donna Dallis, Vice President of Patient Care. “It is not about the individual organization, it is about the quality of care provided to our patients and families.”

The group’s topics included conversations regarding changes within healthcare and how they resolve to work together on the barriers to smooth transitions between providers.

“I am thrilled about the statistics that were reported at this month’s meeting,” said Caleb Turner, attendee. “It is motivating to know that the efforts from each individual entity represented the staff are paying off.”

An additional aspect of the coalition is to identify and discuss current hospital readmissions. A readmission is considered an inpatient admission within 30-days of previous hospital inpatient discharge. The goal of the group is to research and understand what causes the readmission to occur and to assist patients with community resources that will help them to remain independent after hospitalization.

“Our readmission numbers have dropped 6 percent in the last 3 years,” said Julie Potts, Director of Performance Improvement. “This is a commendable testimony to the work this group has been doing.”

NHS aspires to be the regional healthcare provider of choice. This coalition is one additional avenue on the road to success.

For more information regarding Community Collaborative call Julie Potts, Performance Improvement Director at 918 – 453 – 2360.

NHS Executive Team Meets with Senator James Lankford
Jerry Cook Director of Community, Government, and University Relations, Julie Ward Vice President of Finance, Jim Berry Hospital Administrator & Executive Vice President of NHS, James Lankford OK Senator, Brian Woodliff President & CEO of NHS, Phyllis Smith Vice President of Human Resources, Donna Dallis Vice President of Patient Care, Mark McCroskey Vice President of Operations.

Jerry Cook Director of Community, Government, and University Relations, Julie Ward Vice President of Finance, Jim Berry Hospital Administrator & Executive Vice President of NHS, James Lankford OK Senator, Brian Woodliff President & CEO of NHS, Phyllis Smith Vice President of Human Resources, Donna Dallis Vice President of Patient Care, Mark McCroskey Vice President of Operations.

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford met with Northeastern Health System’s executive team to discuss an overview of the current state of rural health in OK since the law passing of Obamacare in 2010. While there is a well-known concern for healthcare spending it cannot be paid for by small and rural hospitals in the communities they care for.

Administration discussed potential cuts within the 340b Pharmacy Program which is a program that reduces drug costs to qualified health care organizations or covered entities. These pharmaceutical savings are passed on to patients.

The team spent considerable time discussing future reimbursement models as the government moves healthcare from fee for service to population/preventative reimbursement. Population/preventative reimbursement would provide a single annual fee per patient and all of the payment for service would come from that annual fee. It is called capitation because there is a cap on payment. This plan has the potential to hinder both healthier patients as well as the ill. A patient whom rarely receives care if any at all is still paying the full amount to be insured whereas the ill person such as a cancer patient has reached the cap amount of insurance and will not be fully covered for further treatment and future visits.

“Senator Lankford was keenly aware of most of the issues discussed,” said Jim Berry, NHS Administrator and Executive Vice President. “It is refreshing to have our US senator so conscious of this plight.”

A lack of funding to cover the costs for both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health was brought to Senator Lankford’s attention. A negative stigma still exists today when it comes to mental health. Many do not realize that mental health is linked to the effects of other physical illnesses.

For questions or concerns contact Jeff Underwood, northeast Oklahoma Field Representative at jeff_underwood@lankford.senate.gov

Foundation to Host 11th Annual Gala

Gala 15The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation is proud to be hosting the Eleventh Annual Hearts of Gold Gala. It is a time to celebrate, socialize and recognize awardees, but primarily a time to raise money to support the mission of Northeastern Health System. The funds provide educational scholarships for employees pursuing healthcare careers, help offset the cost of capital purchases and keep NHS equipped with the latest cutting edge technology. Sponsored by the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center, the gala will showcase the hospital’s growth over the last year as well as honor several individuals who have made a significant impact on the Tahlequah community.

“We are grateful to all of those who make the evening possible,” said Gary Chapman, the Chairman of the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation. “It is a very special evening and it is humbling to see such a grand show of support from our foundation members, donors and members of the community whose generosity will help us enhance and sustain our hospital for generations to come.”

The four awards given at the ceremony are the Heart of Gold Award, the McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award, the Thompson Award and the Mary Carlile Lifetime Achievement Award. The Heart of Gold award is given to recognize an outstanding individual who volunteers their time for the NHS Auxiliary department. The McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award is given to physicians who demonstrate exceptional clinical excellence for our community. The Thompson Award is given to an individual who has played an important role in the development of Tahlequah’s healthcare advancement. The Mary Carlile Lifetime Achievement Award is given from time to time to an individual who has contributed a lifetime of commitment to our community and their profession.

“The dedication, commitment and generosity of these that attend have been and will be the driving force behind the Foundation,” said Brain Woodliff, President and CEO of Northeastern Health System. “This tremendous amount of their support enables our NHS team to provide the highest quality of care every single day.”

For ticket purchases contact Erielle Stout at 918-453-2105 or estout@nhs-ok.org.

NHS Volunteer Wins State Award

Anne CottrillThe Hospital Volunteers of Oklahoma recently recognized 15 volunteers from across the state as 2015 Volunteers with Spirit. The awards were presented during the Hospital Volunteer Day Luncheon at the Oklahoma Hospital Association Annual Convention on Nov. 4th.

The award was given to hospital volunteers who exemplify the spirit of service and have a passion for the work they do for their organizations. Volunteers with Spirit winners have been recognized for their inspirational attitude and efforts to their local hospital auxiliaries. Each volunteer auxiliary at Oklahoma hospitals was given the opportunity to choose one person for the award.

Northeastern Health System Volunteer with Spirit was Anne Cottrill. As the Auxiliary President, Cottrill spends countless hours overseeing operations, managing the volunteers and supporting the community. She leads her team with wisdom and humor. She is an irreplaceable member of the Auxiliary Board.

“The Auxiliary and its devoted members allow NHS to fulfill our mission of providing unsurpassed excellence in healthcare each day,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Anne’s passion for others is evident by the way she leads the Auxiliary. I am thankful for Volunteers like Anne that give countless hours of their time to ensure the success of NHS.”

NHS Names Physicians to Anesthesiology Staff

NHS Names Physicians to Anesthesiology Staff

Northeastern Health System has announced the addition of Dr. Clorinda Robles and Dr. Mark Haltherman to its active medical staff.

This husband-and-wife team will be providing anesthesia services and call coverage, including cardiovascular cases.

Together, they bring over 25 years of experience in anesthesia to NHS.

Robles graduated with a bachelor’s of science, chemistry and biology from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida and earned her Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Miami. She completed her residency in anesthesiology at Boston University Medical Center and a fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Robles is originally from Nicaragua and is fluent in Spanish.

Halterman graduated with a bachelor’s in biology from Oral Roberts University and earned his master’s in anatomy from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Oklahoma College Medicine. Halterman completed an internship in the Department of Surgery at Georgetown University and did his residency in anesthesia at Boston University Medical Center.

“These anesthesiologists are the epitome of what we look for when recruiting physicians,” said Dr. Adele King, Chief of Anesthesia. “Their passion to render superior quality anesthesia care is extraordinary.”

Halterman enjoys golfing, playing tennis, snow skiing, traveling and listening to music.

Robles enjoys ballroom dancing, traveling, studying foreign languages and gourmet cooking. The couple also enjoys spending time with their two children, Alexander and Gabrielle.

Robles enjoys ballroom dancing, traveling, studying foreign languages and gourmet cooking. The couple also enjoys spending time with their two children, Alexander and Gabrielle.

Dr. Champlain Celebrates 20 Years of Medical Practice

NHS14-1401Recently, Dr. Wallace Champlain celebrated his 20 year anniversary of medical practice in Tahlequah. Dr. Champlain began his career in Tahlequah by delivering his daughter, Kalie, 20 years ago. He has continued to welcome newborns into the world ever since.

Dr. Champlain’s interest in medicine began as a student at Stilwell High School. He went on to graduate from Northeastern State University and then received his Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine from Oklahoma State University in 1979. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Detroit Osteopathic Hospital and the Bi-County Community Hospital. After working in family practices, he began his specialty in OB/GYN in Grand Prairie and Arlington, Texas. He later moved to Tahlequah and says he considers Tahlequah his home.

He is passionate about what he does and realizes the importance of his work to patients. He treats each patient with the same compassion that he would give a member of his family. Dr. Champlain enjoys spending time with his family; his wife of 27 years, Marge, and their five children and eight grandchildren. Dr. Champlain’s love for medicine has continued on with three of his daughters, Tyler and Tamarkia, who are fulfilling roles as Registered Nurses and Kalie who is currently a medical student at the University of Oklahoma.

“As a society, we need to do everything in our power to ensure women are in charge of their own lives and pursuit of happiness,” said Champlain. “I enjoy making a difference in people’s lives.”

Northeastern Health System’s Administration team agrees that Dr. Champlain’s desire to make a difference does not go unnoticed by his co-workers and patients. His lasting influence on the community was recognized last year at the Hearts of Gold Gala.

“In 2014 Dr. Champlain was honored by The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation Board with the McIntosh, Masters and Medearis Award for his outstanding commitment to the Tahlequah community,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Northeastern Health System feels privileged to have physicians like Dr. Wallace Champlain on their medical team.”

Dr. Champlain plans to continue his practice in Tahlequah and hopes to someday travel to different parts of the world.

NHS participates in My Tahlequah

My Tahlequah FBNortheastern Health System is a business centered on wellness with patient’s health being their number one priority. Stretching beyond the practice of medicine, NHS is also committed to the betterment of the community that so many of their employees call home. The leadership team continually encourages their staff to take part in helping the community outside the hospital setting.

Saturday, October 24 seventy-five NHS employees teamed up to lend a helping hand in the My Tahlequah event. NHS was tasked with the clean-up of the Town Branch Creek starting at Downing Street Bridge and ending at Smith Street. Roughly, 20 trash bags were filled including various metals, mattresses, syringes and other debris. After close to 6 hours of labor the beautification of the creek was a success.

“If there was one thing the 75 Northeastern Health System team members learned from the My Tahlequah Event, it was not to take the beauty of the community for granted,” stated Jim Berry, Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator.

Working together to improve the condition of the city, the participants also strengthened the relationships among their fellow coworkers. NHS looks forward to supporting events, like My Tahlequah, that are geared toward the betterment of the community.

NHS Celebrates National EMS Week

IMG_7599There’s nothing quite as alarming as the blaring siren of an ambulance or fire truck fast approaching. Whether you’re in your car or safely in your home, knowing that someone, somewhere, may be in a life-threatening situation automatically increases our level of alertness.

Simultaneously, that siren is also reassuring; we are relieved to know that the “right” people are rushing to whoever is in distress. We count on the professionals in the ambulances, fire trucks and medevac helicopters to get to the scene quickly and to know what to do in a thousand different scenarios — and, thankfully, they do.

In 1973, President Gerald Ford authorized a week to be set aside in May as a way to celebrate Emergency Medical Services (EMS), its practitioners and the important work they do while responding to medical emergencies. This past week, May 17th through the 23rd, was celebrated nationwide as Emergency Medical Services Week. Northeastern Health System (NHS) celebrated the week with their EMS staff on Tuesday at a ‘hog fry’ luncheon. David Carroll prepared the pig for his staff, EagleMed contributed the sides and the Executive Team of NHS brought the desserts.

David Carroll, EMS Director at NHS, talked about why the week is important to participate in each year for his staff. “It’s very appropriate that we set aside a week every year to recognize the dedicated EMS staff who are the front line responders to accidents, emergencies and disasters in our community. These individuals stand ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

“Among the things we often take for granted in regard to our health is those who respond to emergencies,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Our EMS staff is a key component of the medical care continuum we provide at NHS. Providing a luncheon to show appreciation and gratitude for the life-saving care they provide to our patients is the least we can do.”

Residency Program Receives Additional 5 Year Accreditation

Pneumonia CareAn excellent curriculum, superb faculty, and the perfect balance of autonomy and supervision are the keys to an outstanding residency education program. Northeastern Health System’s (NHS) graduate medical students, called residents, benefit from the cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic and religious diversity from the community of Tahlequah. As a full service community hospital, NHS provides a comprehensive residency program for future family medicine and internal medicine physicians instilling confidence and skills to provide exceptional care in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Rural areas can suffer from significant shortages of primary care physicians. According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), of the 2,050 rural counties, 1,562 (77%) include primary care health professional shortage areas. The Internal Medicine Residency Programs and Family Medicine, a partnership between NHS and the Cherokee Nation, are important tools to both of the hospitals in addressing those physician shortages in Cherokee County. Because physicians often choose to practice in settings similar to their residency experience, NHS and W.W. Hastings alike have had the opportunity to recruit residents during their time at the hospitals to secure them as physicians upon graduation. The program has proven this fact to be true; 3 out of the 4 residents graduating from the residency programs this year have signed contracts with the local hospitals or clinics.

The Internal Medicine Residency Program has completed a mandatory comprehensive survey and received an AOA accreditation for an additional 5 years.

“We have an unopposed program; caring and attentive attending physicians, specialists available for consults; and a patient population with severe, chronic issues, and unique pathology,” said Dr. Elaine Ramos, Internal Medicine Residency Program Director. “These needs are met by placing residents on our hospital’s units. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue not only the program, but the heightened care to our patients for an additional 5 years.”

After reviewing applications and going through interview processes with potential medical students, the Family Medicine Residency Program has invited 4 new graduate medical students to begin the program this summer and the Internal Medicine Residency Program has invited 5 medical students.

“Having resident in Tahlequah stirs the healthcare process at both hospitals. Our primary goal is to ensure the residents are well prepared physicians who receive a first rate educational experience,” stated Dr. Doug Nolan, Family Medicine Residency Director. “Ideally, the physicians trained in this program will choose to practice in Tahlequah.”

“We are very proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our residents,” said Jim Berry, Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator. “We strive for excellence in everything we do at Northeastern Health System Tahlequah. Training great doctors who in turn provide quality care are of the utmost importance to us.”

Hospital Bids Farewell to Turney as a Board Member

123It is with sadness that Northeastern Health System announces the ‘end-of-term’ farewell to Mr. Maurice Turney from the Tahlequah Hospital Authority (THA) Board of Trustees. Not only has he been an essential part of the backbone of the hospital, he has served the hospital selflessly for the past four years. His departure will leave NHS, as well as the community, with a sizeable hole to fill.

Since his induction to the THA Board in 2011, Turney has given the hospital priceless amounts of wisdom and countless hours of service as well as exemplified word Trustee. Brian Woodliff, NHS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President, said “it is due to his character, intellect and his service to the hospital and to the community that he is described in this fashion.”

When asked to name a few projects that he takes pride in during his time on the Board, Turney noted “the ability for the hospital to provide scholarships to its employees and help with student loan payments; the grand opening of the Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center; and most recently, staffing all emergency board certified physicians in the Emergency Room.”

“Maurice Turney is a community servant. For a short time, we were privileged to bear witness to his passion, ‘Tahlequah’,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “His countless contributions, leadership and steadfast commitment to both have made Northeastern Health System stronger and created a lasting legacy that will be difficult to fill,”

Gary Harrington, THA Chairman, found his self extremely fortunate to have Turney on the Board with him with the past four years.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have served with the type of leader Maurice is,” stated Harrington. “He has led transformative change in our local healthcare landscape, with an unwavering focus on NHS delivering the best care to the community. His efforts to ensure THA’s financial strength and to establish close relationships with our community will benefit THA for years to come.”

A farewell reception was held on May 7th at NHS in honor of Mr. Turney’s four years of dedication and service. The reception was well attended by Board members, Foundation members and hospital employees to show their gratitude for his service to the hospital. Brian Woodliff, CEO and President, expressed his gratefulness to Maurice with kind remarks and the presentation of a plaque as a token of appreciation. Mr. Turney’s position will be filled by a city council member in weeks to come.

Changing Lives One Community Member at a Time

Habitat-for-Humanity-Logo-Uwlax_edu_As a basic necessity, shelter is linked directly to good health. According to Habitat for Humanity, there are nearly 2 billion people around the world who live in slum housing and more than 100 million are homeless. Habitat for Humanity’s International vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. To that end, NHS supports the vision of Habitat for Humanity.
“The social need for Habitat for Humanity remains unchallenged,” stated Director of Patient Financial Services (PFS), Darecca Jensen. “Habitat utilizes limited resources and hard volunteer work to build safe and affordable housing to low-income families. Our hospital wants to be a part of the hard work that goes into changing the lives of community member’s one community member at a time.”
The PFS department has taken on the challenge of organizing the NHS team and has been working diligently with Habitat for Humanity since last year on their upcoming May project. The PFS department has created opportunities for all hospital employees to participate, from donating to volunteering time on the job site. For instance, PFS has begun creating baskets that are themed for specific rooms of the home and challenged other department to fill the baskets with objects for those rooms. The Plant Operations and Maintenance team has joined in the efforts by building a custom child bed for the family that will be living in the home.
“With limited free time in a demanding fast paced world, volunteering competes with personal time and goals,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “I am proud of the staff member’s that have challenged themselves to devote some of that free time toward improving our community, and hope it inspires others to do the same.”

NHS Offers Safe Sitter Course

safesitterlogoOur world is a complicated place. Today’s babysitters need to know more than just the basics to keep themselves and the children in their care safe. That’s why Safe Sitter has developed an up-to-date medically based and well-rounded youth development program teaches young teens life safety skills. It also equips them to stay home alone safely and with confidence.

Northeastern Health System is a Registered Safe Sitter® Teaching Site and now offers the comprehensive training program for young teens (11-14). To be a card carrying Safe Sitter, students must pass a rigorous practical and written test that indicates their mastery of key concepts and life safety skills. NHS just recently held its first Safe Sitter Course on April 25th and successfully graduated 14 young teens from the program.

“Injuries are the leading cause of death in children up to age 5. Safe Sitter® aims to reduce the number of avoidable and unintentional deaths among children being cared for by young teens,” stated Safe Sitter Course Instructor, Suzanne Lovell, BSN, RN. “The program follows American Heart Association standards as well as instruction in first aid techniques from the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

The nationally-recognized program was developed by an Indianapolis Pediatrician, Dr. Patricia Keener, after a colleague’s toddler choked to death while in the care of an adult sitter who didn’t know what actions to take. Students who complete the Safe Sitter® program gain confidence and learn how, why, and where common injuries can take place so they can be prevented. They learn how a child’s age affects how to care for them, how to prevent problem behavior, how to run their own babysitting business, as well as issues of online and cellphone safety.

“Safe Sitter improves safety and the welfare of young children by increasing the availability of young adolescents instructed in childcare techniques,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “I believe that this program enhances the lives of young adolescents by providing the opportunity to acquire competencies in rescue skills, basic first aid and nurturing, safe childcare techniques.”

For more information about Northeastern Health System’s Safe Sitter Courses contact Suzanne Lovell at 918-458-2463.

Northeastern Health System-Tahlequah Enhances Patient & Employee Safety

post3Northeastern Health System (NHS)-Tahlequah is improving safety for both patients and EMT workers alike with the installation of Power-LOAD cot fastening system in every ambulance.

Power-LOAD is the first system of its kind in the United States that meets dynamic crash test standards to maximize ambulance occupant safety. Created by the Michigan-based company Stryker, the power loading system will lift the patient cot into the ambulance, with minimal assistance from the EMT.

“The system will improve the dynamics of loading and unloading patients into our ambulances,” stated Emergency Medical Services Director, David Caroll. “The hydraulic lift is capable of lifting patients weighing up to 700lbs with the touch of a button; greatly enhancing the safety of not only our patients, but our EMTs as well.”

NHS-Tahlequah’s highest priority is the health of their patients and hospital staff. This is why the hospital is consistently offering cutting-edge medical services and technology. It is the hospital’s belief that Power-LOAD will allow for the reduction of job-related injuries that EMT crews might experience, as well as enhance the efficiency of the staff to provide unsurpassed excellence in healthcare to their patients.

“We are confident that the Power-LOAD system will decrease strenuous injuries that EMTs can experience while working in their field,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Implementing the Power-LOAD system to all of the hospital’s ambulances is a step in the right direction not only for patient safety, but for employee safety as well.”

By Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

Dr. Mary Carlile to Retire

carlileDr. Mary Carlile, a staple of the Inpatient Rehabilitation team at Northeastern Health System (NHS)-Tahlequah, has announced her retirement effective November 30, 2014.

Dr. Carlile’s resignation caps a remarkable medical career that includes 26 years of dedication and service to Rehabilitation Services; 3 of those years serving the Tahlequah community at NHS-Tahlequah.

Dr. Carlile graduated from the College of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma and completed her residency at Baylor University Medical Center. Her career path started as an associate at the Rehabilitation Consults of Texas and has continued to flourish over the years.

Giving of her time and knowledge to countless professional organizations is something that Dr. Carlile’s biographical sketch accounts for. Belonging to over 23 organizations, 7 of which she holds respected positions; Dr. Carlile believes in giving back to the profession she loves dearly.

You can find numerous awards associated with Dr. Carlile’s name, including: ‘Best Doctors in Dallas,’ ‘Texas Super Doctor’ as well as belonging to the 2007-2009 and 2011-2012 ‘Best Doctors in America’ category. These honors are linked to Dr. Carlile because of her commitment to providing unsurpassed excellence in Rehabilitation Care.

Patients and co-workers alike have an admiration for Dr. Carlile and her passion for healthcare.

“Dr. Carlile goes above her call of duty and strives to make a difference in every patient she sees,” stated Sharon Cox, Director of Inpatient Rehab. “I have learned a great deal from Dr. Carlile during her time here at NHS. She will be greatly missed.”

During her tenure in Tahlequah Dr. Carlile was instrumental in developing rehab services for the Inpatient Rehab Unit at NHS-Tahlequah.

“Dr. Carlile’s quest for excellence has been unparalleled and has shaped our Inpatient Rehab services as we know it,” stated Brian Woodliff, CEO of NHS-Tahlequah. “Passionate providers like Dr. Carlile allow NHS-Tahlequah to be the region’s healthcare provider of choice. She is a fixture at NHS-Tahlequah and her presence will be missed.”

By: Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

American Osteopathic College of Anesthesiologist Honors Dr. Adele King

asdfasdThe field of medicine often acknowledges scientific and technical expertise while overlooking the art of the relationship-centered and compassionate care. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation understands that in order to be a complete doctor, both science and humanism must be fostered. Each year the Gold Foundation honors physicians with awards that seek to elevate those humanistic qualities essential to good doctoring: integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and service.

In recognition of her dedication to compassionate patient care Adele King, D.O. has been honored with the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award. This prestigious award was presented at this year’s annual convention of the American Osteopathic College of Anesthesiologists (AOCA).

Dr. King’s philosophy about medicine is to “treat all people with dignity and respect” and what she enjoys most about practicing medicine is “caring for people in their times of emotional and physical need.”

Dr. King trained at Kansas City Osteopathic Hospital and completed her residency at Kansas City Osteopathic Medical University of Health Sciences. Dr. King has worked in both Kansas City and Oklahoma and is presently the Director of Anesthesia services at NHS-Tahlequah. She has been involved in multiple committees and boards at the local, state and national level as well as traveling the country to lecture extensively on many topics. Since 1990, she has served on the Board of Examiners for the AOCA, served 10 years on the AOCA Board of Governors and in 1997 was installed as their first female president. She has received many distinguished service awards, including recognition from the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association and Drury University. In 2009, NHS had the honor of awarding Dr. King the Masters, McIntosh and Medearis Award at the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation’s Hearts of Gold Gala.

“A talented medical professional that demands the highest quality of care, Dr. King is a well deserving recipient of this prestigious award,” stated Brian Woodliff, President and CEO of Northeastern Health System. “It is a privilege to have someone of Dr. King’s experience and compassion working at our hospital. By carrying out the mission, vision and value of NHS-Tahlequah, Dr. King exemplifies to our patients and employees why we are the regions healthcare provider of choice. “

By: Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

NHS-Tahlequah offers Mammography Special

1 (5)2In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, Northeastern Health System-Tahlequah is offering mammograms for a flat fee of $75. The focus of this annual effort is to educate women, and those who love them, about the important benefits of early breast cancer detection.

Women must be at least 40 years of age and have a signed physicians order to participate in this special. For patient convenience, appointments can be made by calling (918)772-4588 Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Unfortunately, too many women fail to receive their annual mammography screenings,” said Misty Branan, NHS-Tahlequah mammography technician. “In some cases, this can be attributed to a lack of education. There are still some people who do not understand the importance of mammography in early breast cancer detection. Other women avoid the annual tests because they are afraid; scared that the test itself will hurt or afraid of receiving possible bad news.”

The messages for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month are important:

  • Early detection saves lives.
  • Mammography screening is the single most effective method of early detection.
  • An annual mammogram is recommended for all women over 40 years of age.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally feel and should report any changes to their health care provider.
  • Breast self-examinations (monthly from age 20) and clinical examinations (at least every three years from age 20 to 35, and annually from age 40 and up) should be a part of regular breast health screenings.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women,” said Todd Shafer, Director of Radiology. “Finding a tumor at its earliest stages and getting appropriate treatment not only provides the best chance of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis, but also provides the broadest range of effective treatment options.”

In addition to the inherited higher risk from a “breast cancer” gene, a number of other risk factors have been identified. These risk factors may be a good point of discussion for women to outline a breast cancer screening plan with their health provider, but a lack of risk factors does not mean that women will not develop breast cancer. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer have none of these risk factors, so it’s still important to receive regular breast cancer screenings.

Estrogen-Related Risk Factors:

  • Having an early first period (before the age of 12)
  • Having a late first pregnancy (after age 25 or 35)
  • Having no children
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Use of oral contraceptives has not been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.

Risk Factors Your Can Change:

  • High fat intakes – eat leaner meats and limit intake of saturated or hydrogenated fats.
  • Low fiber intake – increase consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake – eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • High alcohol intakes – abstain from drinking or drink in moderation (less than two drinks per day).
  • Sedentary lifestyle – stay active, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most, if not all, days; maintain a healthy weight.
  • Smoking – enroll in a smoking cessation program or research over-the-counter aids to quit on your own.

By Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

Biggest Loser Competition Winners Announced

Congratulations to Nicole Little (left) for winning the NHS 2016/2017 Biggest Loser competition. Hollie Carrol (not pictured) placed second, and Brandi Blossom (center) placed thrid. More than 50 employees participated in the weight loss challenge, losing more than 250 lbs as a group. Awards were presented by NHS Executive VP and Hospital Administrator Jim Berry (right).

Remarkables Resale Store Undergoes Renovations

Remarkables Resale Store, in downtown Tahlequah, has recently undergone a major renovation. The store, operated by the volunteers of Northeastern Health System, is now a beautiful mixture of new construction and historic features.

“The tin ceiling, which had been painted numerous times throughout the years, was crumbling,” said Pamela Coonce, Remarkables manager. “It has now been restored and is a great feature of the store.”

The three-month renovation is almost complete and the volunteers look forward to hosting a grand opening.

“We are still accepting donations,” said Coonce. “They can be dropped off at Remarkables and we will pick them up daily. We accept clothes and house wears and look forward to opening the store with some very nice things.”

All proceeds made from the sale of donated items are used to benefit Northeastern Health System, it’s staff and patients. The Auxiliary currently pays for medications and transportation for patients who need help, as well as provides scholarships to employees and equipment for the hospital.

“We do this work because we know how important it is to offer quality healthcare to our rural city,” said Coonce. “Northeastern Health System has expanded so much that there is hardly any need to travel to a big city to get care.”

Donations may be dropped off anytime at the back door of Remarkables, located at 114 S. Muskogee Ave., Tahlequah.

Renowned Dermatologist Joins NHS Ft. Gibson Clinic

Dermatologist, entrepreneur, teacher and man of God, Dr. Steven Smith, recently joined Northeastern Health System’s Ft. Gibson Clinic.

“I am making a comeback,” said Smith. “After a brief retirement from 32 years of full-time dermatology practice, I am back.”

Smith is restarting his career in Ft. Gibson and is currently taking new patients.

“I am very excited about my new affiliation with Northeastern Health System,” said Smith. “These caring, compassionate and well organized people will make it a joy for my patients to be seen– and worth the 45 minute drive from Broken Arrow.”

Smith graduated from Indiana University Medical School and became board certified in Dermatology and Internal Medicine in the early 1980’s. His philosophy is to combine the healing streams of traditional and natural medicine with prayer, keeping Psalms 103 at the forefront of his practice.

“I am seeking to restore excellence in caring for the patient in a setting of good customer service,” said Smith. “Everyone I’ve met [at NHS] has been so helpful and positive. That is very refreshing in the current healthcare environment.”

In 1985, Smith was employed by Oral Roberts University School of Medicine, where he formed the section of Dermatology in the Department of Internal Medicine. He taught dermatology curriculum to third-year medical students before becoming the Clinical Director of dermatology instruction for fourth-year medical student electives.

In 1988, he opened his own dermatology clinic, which soon became a multi-million dollar company. Two years later he founded Loma Lux Laboratories, known as Plymouth Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which developed and marketed a new line of eight oral over-the-counter products and four prescription products for treatment of chronic conditions. Though he sold the pharmaceutical company, the sales of these unique skin care products are being expanded to this day.

Smith has been a guest lecturer at the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, Russian Dermatology Departments in Moscow, Russia, American College for Advancement in Medicine, H&H Dermatology Seminar, Oklahoma American College of Physicians, Oklahoma State Dermatological Society, and the combined Texas/Mexico Dermatology Societies.

He has developed and sponsored countless clinical trials, holds nine patents and has published seven articles.

Smith and his wife, Lorraine, have been married for 44 years, and have three children and eight grandchildren. In his spare time he says his hobbies include being a good husband, grandfather and son of God, enjoying outdoor living, music, playing the guitar, and the challenges of entrepreneurial business.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, such as Dermatology, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

To make an appointment with Dr. Smith, please call (918) 478-2101.

NHS “Cafeteria Lady” Helps Feed Tahlequah’s Hungry Children

Photo Caption: The NHS “Cafeteria Lady,” Ruth Stell, right, raised nearly $1,000 for the Tahlequah Backpack Program. Here she is seen donating the money to April Bardell, who oversees the backpack program for Tahlequah Public Schools.

In 2003, a little boy in Oklahoma City fainted in his school lunch line due to lack of food over the weekend. This event prompted the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to create the Food for Kids Backpack Program. NHS’s self-proclaimed “Cafeteria Lady,” Ruth Stell, decided to help feed children in Tahlequah by collecting nearly $1,000 for the Tahlequah backpack program.

“If you’ve ever visited the NHS cafeteria, you would remember Ruth,” said Mark McCroskey, VP of Operations. “She is a remarkable woman with an incredibly giving heart.”

The program provides chronically hungry children with backpacks filled with non-perishable, nutritious, kid-friendly, shelf-stable food to sustain them over weekends and school holidays. During the 2015-2016 school year, the Backpack Program served 18,816 elementary school students attending 512 schools across 53 central and western Oklahoma counties, providing more than 2 million meals for chronically hungry children.

“There are starving children all over the world,” said Stell, “and it’s good to work to feed them, but with seventeen percent of all Oklahoma children living in poverty, we need to feed our children right here at home too.”

Stell began taking donations, selling recipes and crocheting items for sell in the NHS cafeteria. Soon she had raised nearly $1,000 to donate to the local backpack program.

“You should always give back. So many people are less fortunate than most of us, so we should help out if we can,” said Stell. “If I can fill one belly, then yay!”

 

 

NHS Welcomes New EMS Director

Northeastern Health System is happy to announce Mike Cates as the new Director of Emergency Services. Mike replaces long-time director David Carroll who will oversee the Wound Management Center, as well as maintenance on the ambulances.

Cates previously spent 25 years working for Muskogee County EMS, a job that has prepared him well for this new role.

“I have had several mentors growing up in this business,” he said. “I have worked with some very good doctors, medics and nurses over the years that have all influenced me in my career.”

Cates chose NHS because he was impressed with the size and the family atmosphere.

“I treat everyone the same,” he said. “Ever patient is someone’s family. I treat them the exact same way I would want my family member treated.”

Cates plans to increase the education of the NHS EMS team, which will in turn, provide better health care for patients.

“Patients should choose NHS because we are a caring service,” said Cates. “Our technology is growing with leaps and bounds.   There’s no question that our care at NHS will rival any other hospital our size in the country.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

“I would like to thank Muskogee County EMS for the years of experience and knowledge that I gained while working there, and all the relationships that I built while there,” said Cates, “and I would like to thank Northeastern Health Systems for allowing me to take on this new adventure, and the opportunity to add to my EMS family.”

National HIM Week

We want to say THANK YOU to our HIM staff for the amazing work they do every day! Happy HIM week!

Health information management (HIM), an allied health profession, leads efforts to ensure the availability, accuracy, integrity, and security of all data related to patient healthcare encounters. This results in better clinical and business decisions that enhance healthcare quality. They play a key role in the effective management of health data necessary to deliver quality healthcare to the public.

Colorectal Cancer: The Unmentionable Cancer

It’s not a topic for polite conversation: colon / rectal cancer or colorectal cancer. But, since early detection is the best way to combat the disease, it’s important that people think about the disease even if they don’t talk about it. March has been named National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to draw attention to the importance of early detection and treatment.

“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States,” said Dr. Bill Simpson.   “According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, almost 150,000 people in this country were diagnosed with colorectal cancer least year. Cancer is an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. Colorectal refers to the colon and rectum, which together make up the large intestine. Most colorectal cancer appears first as polyps or abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum. Over time, polyps can become cancerous.”

A number of risk factors have been identified which increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. While some of these risk factors cannot be altered, others can be reduced through lifestyle modifications. Risk factors include:

  • Age – 90% of colorectal cancers are diagnosed in people age 50 years or older.
  • Family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
  • Certain diseases of the intestines – i.e. inflammatory bowl disease – can increase the risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Personal history – those previously diagnosed with colorectal cancer have a greater chance of recurrence. (For women, a previous diagnosis of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer can also indicate an increase in the risk for developing colorectal cancer.) In addition, a history of polyps or bowel disease can also increase risk.
  • Diet – a high fat diet increases risk. A diet high in fruits and vegetables and whole grain foods can help reduce risk.
  • Lifestyle – people who don’t exercise and who are overweight are also at increased risk. In addition, smoking and heavy use of alcohol have been identified as contributing factors in colorectal cancer occurrence.

However, 75 percent of all new patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer have no known risk factors for the disease. In its earliest stages, colorectal cancer produces no symptoms. Therefore, all men and women, age 50 and older, should be tested routinely for colorectal cancer. Those who are at increased risk should speak to their physician about starting screenings earlier or performing more frequent testing.

Several tests are recommended for early detection of colorectal cancer. Often several screening tests are combined to increase the ability to detect any problems during the earliest, most treatable stages.

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) – checks for occult or hidden blood in the stool. Most tests involve a test kit where samples are collected at home and mailed to a physician’s office or lab for analysis. This test is usually performed annually.
  • Colonoscopy – this procedure is similar to the flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the tube used is longer and allows the doctor to see the entire colon. This procedure is often used to follow up on suspicious results from other testing methods. If no problems are found, it is typically recommended every ten years.

“Technologies such as virtual colonoscopy and stool DNA testing may become recognized in the future as good diagnostic tools,” concluded Simpson. “Until then, the best way to protect yourself is to visit with your physician about starting a regular screening program at or before you turn 50. With Early diagnosis and treatment, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is 90 percent.”

Bill Simpson, M.D. specializes in gastroenterology and frequently performs colorectal procedures at Northeastern Health System. For more information on colorectal cancer, or to make an appointment with Dr. Simpson, call (918) 207.0025.

Celebrating our HR Office

The week of March 12 – 18, 2017, has been designated to recognize human resources professionals in health care organizations across
the nation for their important role across the continuum of care. We love our hard-working HR staff! Thanks for all you do ladies!

Q&A with NHS Dietitian Lois Fladie

Happy National Dietitian Nutrition Day to our very own Lois Fladie! National Dietitian Nutrition Day was created in 2008 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association), to raise awareness of the indispensable role that registered dietitian nutritionists play in helping people enjoy a healthy life. Check out our Q&A with Lois:

How long have you worked for Northeastern Health System?

I have worked here for 20 years. I am currently the Director of Dietary here at the hospital.

What type of education is required for this profession?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, followed by an internship. I also successfully completed the national exam which is required to be licensed and registered.

Why did you decide to become a dietitian?

I found when my children were little that their health improved greatly depending on the foods they ate. They had continuous ear infections which stopped when I cut out the sugar and added fermented foods like unsweetened yogurt. Fresh fruits took the place of sugar and candy.

 What does a dietitian in a hospital actually do?

As a Clinical Dietitian/Nutritionist, there are management responsibilities, clinical nutrition, patient education and public education.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dietetics and Nutrition is a wide open profession in that there are many areas to work. Specialties include renal, oncology, pediatric, sports, school food services, long-term care, management and critical care to name just a few. This is a profession that helps people live a better life.

Tahlequah’s EagleMed Transitions to First Flight

The former EagleMed air medical transport base in Tahlequah has been renamed First Flight and is now being operated by national air medical transport leader Med-Trans Corporation.

“Although we have a new name, the same amazing medical and flight crews, based in Tahlequah, remain on the job and are committed to providing the very best in patient care,” said Patrick Barkley, Med-Trans program manager in Tahlequah. “This base is staffed with dedicated crew members that care deeply about their patients and take great pride in representing Tahlequah and Cherokee County.”

Med-Trans service in the area stems from a joint venture to serve Northeastern Health System and the Cherokee Nation. The base is staffed by flight crews including pilots and a mechanic, along with a nursing staff and paramedic staff, both backed by physician oversight.

Med-Trans bases a medically equipped Bel 407GXP helicopter at Northeastern Health System that serves the citizens of north, mid and southeast Oklahoma, as well as north and mid-south Arkansas. All EagleMed memberships that are currently active will be honored by Med-Trans.

Med-Trans is a leading national air medical provider focused on establishing partnerships with hospital systems, medical centers and EMS agencies through nearly 90 bases across 23 states. Med-Trans offers customized air ambulance programs through alternative delivery/shared resource models, community based models and traditional hospital-based models. Its patient fleet numbers approximately 100 aircraft comprised predominantly of light single and twin-engine helicopters and twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft.

NHS Security Guard Scores 9th in Nation in Fitness Challenge

NHS has long been a champion of employee health, offering healthy meal options and a yearly weight-loss challenge. Employee wellness programs have been proven to reduce health care costs and absenteeism and increase productivity. One NHS employee, Security Guard Joseph Spriggs, has taken health to a new level.

Spriggs, who is part of the NHS wellness team, uploads his fitness device to Myinertia.com, a website that logs activity minutes from participant devices such as Garmin or Fitbit. MyInertia is an online program that is used by people across the nation. Spriggs recently was ranked ninth in the nation.

Spriggs joined the NHS challenge to compete with a couple of co-workers, never expecting to be ranked so high.

“I actually stay active a lot outside of work,” said Spriggs. “I go and play basketball when I get the chance and also try to exercise twice a day, before and after work. I also put in a lot of minutes at work. Working security helps because we are constantly making rounds around all of the hospital floors and property.”

NHS began this fitness challenge with a grant from Ardmore Institute of Health. The NHS teams scored higher than any other group participation in the Fitness Activity Grant, earning NHS an additional $2,400 in grant money to be used for future wellness initiatives.

“To me, if I am able to stay in the top 10 that would be a great accomplishment, because it wasn’t even a goal at first,” said Sprigs. I would like that number on spot though, so that might be a new challenge for me.”

Donations Stay in the Community at NHS Blood Drives

Blood Drive smNortheastern Health System will host a blood drive on Monday, February 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Tuesday, February 28, from noon to 6 p.m. Giving at an NHS sponsored blood drive is different than giving at others drives, as the hospital receives one unit of blood for every five units donated at NHS to help save lives right here in the community.

Make plans now to help your community by donating blood at the NHS blood drive. The drive will be held at the NHS West Conference Room, located directly behind Armstrong Bank on Downing Street in Tahlequah. Walk-ins are welcome, or donors may schedule an appointment by contacting NHS Education Coordinator, Suzanne Lovell at (918) 456-0641. A photo ID is required and donors will receive a free T-shirt. For more information, call Lovell at the number listed or visit the Oklahoma Blood Institute Web site at www.obi.org.

Atkinson Named Director of NHS Outpatient Rehab Center

Rachel Atkinson sm2Rachel Atkinson, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, has recently been named Director of Northeastern Health System’s Outpatient Rehabilitation facility. Atkinson has worked in the outpatient facility for eight years, supervising numerous physical therapy assistants and undergraduate students hoping to follow in her footsteps.

Atkinson will be replacing long-time, and much loved Physical Therapist Lecil Harper, who has decided to take more time off to visit his granddaughter out of state.

“Forty-two years as a physical therapist is long enough,” said Harper. “It’s time for a new generation of therapists to take the clinic to the next level.”

Atkinson received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Wichita State University in 2009, but her love for the profession began as a child.

“When I was younger I had several stints of physical therapy due to injuries I received while playing sports, and I

always enjoyed therapy as a patient,” said Atkinson. “I also have always really been into fitness and became a certified personal trainer in college. Having the athlete and personal trainer background, along with a passion for helping individuals, ultimately led me down the physical therapy path and I am so happy every day that I did. Physical therapy is one of very few health professions that you get to spend a lot of time with your patients while helping them feel better and return to their prior level of function. By the time a patient is ready to be discharged, I always feel like I made a friend. I love that!”

The outpatient rehab department provides physical, occupational and speech therapy, by experienced therapists who are passionate about what they do and will go the extra mile to make sure patients get the most out of therapy.

“NHS should be all patients’ first choice for their healthcare needs,” said Atkinson. “We have some amazing physicians, nurses and staff that really care about you. I have personally been a patient of NHS several times and have always had a positive experience.”

Atkinson credits her patients and co-workers for helping shape her professional, and sometimes personal, life.

“NHS provided an environment that helped me advance as a professional. One of the individuals that I feel has been a mentor to me is Todd Shafer. Todd is an excellent supervisor and sets an example of the type of supervisor I want to be. I feel I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without the support of Todd and many other administrators at NHS. It is nice to really feel like you are part of a team.

“There have also been many patient cases that have impacted my life. From the little boy who took his first steps after his parents were told he would never walk, to the patient who left pain free after having pain for over a year. It’s cases like these that validate that I am exactly where I should be,” said Atkinson.

When not working Atkinson enjoys a wide variety of activities, such as fishing, shopping and watching her favorite sports teams.

“The one thing I love most, though, is cooking, or really anything that involves food,” said Atkinson. “I love making a big meal and having friends and family over to relax and enjoy some time together, or going to a new restaurant and trying something new.”

Atkinson and her husband, Scott, whom she calls her rock and best friend, have been married for two years and have three beautiful daughters.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

NHS Residents Selected for National Conference

Janel and Josh 3NHS Family Residents, Dr. Janel Johnson and Dr. Josh Priddle, were selected to attend the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians National Conference, in Atlanta, Georgia. Attendees were chosen through a stringent application process and only a select group was chosen to attend.

Northeastern Health System partnered with Oklahoma State University in 2008 to begin a Family Medicine Residency Program. By 2011 the program was so successful, NHS was awarded a second residency program, this time in Internal Medicine.

“Overall I thought that the NHS Family medicine residency was and is a great residency program,” said Priddle. “I feel as though I have been taught what I need to know to go out and practice on my own. The program has prepared me to be a rural family medicine physician first and foremost, but has also prepared me to go on and pursue further specialized training. They have also taught me how to be a leader and interact with my peers as their leader while I was one of the chief residents my second year. Overall I would have to state that I have absolutely loved my training in Tahlequah and would not trade it for any other.”

 

 

 

Tahlequah Hospital Foundation to Host 12th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala

The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation will host the Twelfth Annual Hearts of Gold Gala on Feb. 10, 2017 with special guest, jazz musician, Grady Nichols, and everyone’s favorite band, Emerald City. The Gala, a fundraiser to support Northeastern Health System, will raise money to help absorb the cost of caring for the uninsured, provide scholarships to students pursuing a career in healthcare and provide the latest in technology and infrastructure.

GalaSponsored by Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center, the Gala will showcase the hospital’s growth over the last year as well as honor several individuals who have made a significant impact on healthcare in Tahlequah.

“The awards given at the Gala are a great way to recognize the people who have made such great contributions to the community through their professional and volunteer service,” said Susan Chapman Plumb, Foundation Board Member.   “We have so many unsung heroes in this community and it’s a perfect opportunity to recognize them.”

The four awards given are the Heart of Gold Award, recognizing volunteer Charles Duvall for his many hours of service to the Tahlequah City Hospital Auxiliary and the community; the McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award, recognizing Dr. George Cohlmia for demonstrating clinical excellence and his many years of service; the Thompson Award, recognizing Carol Choate for her instrumental role in Tahlequah’s healthcare history; and the Dr. Mary Carlile Award, recognizing Harvey Chaffin for his many years of service to the Tahlequah community and beyond.

“I think the Gala is important for our community,” said JoAnn Bradley, of the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation. “It gives the Foundation an opportunity to help the hospital purchase equipment, land and other needed resources. It also helps the hospital provide scholarships for its employees to obtain nursing and healthcare related degrees.”

For tickets or more information on the Hearts of Gold Gala, call (918) 453-2105.

NHS Delivers Tahlequah’s First Baby of 2017

2017-babyPhoto Caption: Members from Northeastern Health System and the Oklahoma Home Community Extension office in Tahlequah, joined together to celebrate Tahlequah’s first new baby of 2017. Lucy Morningstar Thiel made her arrival at 12:54 on Jan. 2. Pictured are (l to r): Megan Grogan, RN, Dad, Chad Thiel holding Lucy, Mom, Summer Thiel, OHCE members Ann Lamons and Mildred Fain, and NHS OB Director, Teina Trimble.

 

Northeastern Health System is happy to announce Tahlequah’s first baby of 2017! Lucy Morningstar Thiel was born to Chad and Summer Thiel at 12:54 a.m. on January 2, 2017. Lucy weighted 7 lbs. and 3 oz. and was 19 inches long. Lucy will go home to join big brother, Chad, who is almost 2 years old.

Northeastern Health System was joined by members of the Oklahoma Home Community Extension office to celebrate the new birth and to deliver gifts for baby Lucy and her parents.

The maternity center rooms at NHS are designed to welcome families with a more hotel-like feel, including beautiful aesthetics and comfortable furniture. Each room serves as the labor, deliver, recovery and post-partum room, allowing the family to stay together and in one location.

“The nurses at NHS were amazing,” said Summer Theil. “They were professional, courteous and were very confident in what they were doing.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

NHS Resident Lands Prestigious Fellowship

priddleNHS Family Medicine Resident, Joshua Priddle, D.O., was recently accepted to the Sports Medicine Fellowship at Edward Via College in conjunction with Auburn University. Priddle is one of only two people to be selected for this prestigious fellowship.

A fellowship is a period of medical training that a physician may undertake after completing their residency program.

“I decided to become a physician during my third year of college,” said Priddle. “I was taking health science courses and did not really know what I wanted to do. I was active in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries and one of my mentors told me to read a biography on the life of Dr. Bill Wallace, who was a medical missionary to China. His life’s story was something that spoke to me and it became clear that I wanted to practice medicine and do something similar as he did. At that time I began to pursue coursework to get into medical school.”

Priddle, from Duke, Oklahoma, attended medical school at Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, before entering the residency program at NHS.

“Overall I thought that the NHS Family medicine residency was and is a great residency program,” said Priddle. “I feel as though I have been taught what I need to know to go out and practice on my own. The program has prepared me to be a rural family medicine physician first and foremost, but has also prepared me to go on and pursue further specialized training. They have also taught me how to be a leader and interact with my peers as their leader while I was one of the chief residents my second year. Overall I would have to state that I have absolutely loved my training in Tahlequah and would not trade it for any other.”

For three years Priddle practiced medicine under the teaching of NHS Physicians. During this residency he decided to apply for a variety of sports medicine fellowships, eight to be exact.

“I got the opportunity to rotate at two of the programs I applied for, one of which was at Auburn,” said Priddle. “While I rotated there I got to see many of the Auburn University athletes and help take care of them.   I also got to rotate with a few of the other sports medicine physician’s around town. I enjoyed my time there. There were two positions available and I was offered one of them.”

While at Auburn, Priddle will be assisting with D1 sports coverage of the Auburn Tigers, rotating through and gaining additional experience in orthopedics, and sports coverage for an area high school.

Northeastern Health Center has residency programs in both Family Medicine and Internal Medicine. The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

Leatherman Promoted to Assistant VP at NHS

leatherman-priacillasmcPriacilla Leatherman began working for Northeastern Health System, then known as Tahlequah City Hospital, when she was in high school. She worked her way through college and through the hospital’s ranks, and has recently been named Assistant Vice President of Finance and Compliance.

“I am very excited for my new role,” said Leatherman. “I have seen the hospital grow from approximately 250 employees when I first started, to now having close to 900. This is an amazing feat and I am looking forward to being able to even further expand on our current programs. The administrators at NHS have encouraged me in every step of my career and I really appreciate all of the support they have given me over the years.”

Leatherman began as an intern in the HR department. After graduating high school, she was hired to work in Patient Registration. While completing her undergraduate degree in accounting she worked in the hospital’s data processing department, before transferring to the position of Staff Accountant, from there she moved to the position of Medical

“I have basically grown up here,” said Leatherman of NHS. “Everyone at NHS truly cares about what they do. You are not just another patient here, but you are family, friends and neighbors. I feel honored to be a part of this culture.”

Leatherman, married to her husband, John, for 18 years, has two active children, Tyler, 16, and Kayli, 12. Her busy life hasn’t kept her from obtaining her goals, as she became a Certified Healthcare Financial Professional in 2015 and will graduate this week with her MBA.

“I enjoy new challenges,” said Leatherman. “NHS continuously strives to be the best. We are always looking for areas to expand and new service lines to provide, so our patients can receive excellent care close to home. I can’t wait to see what is around the next corner.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

 

 

NHS Awarded Wellness Grant

wellness-grantPhoto Caption: Michelle Sinkler from Full Plate Living, presented a check to Northeastern Health System in recognition of the amazing outcomes seen during NHS’s 8-week wellness challenge. The funds will be used for future wellness programs. Pictured, from left, are: Phyllis Smith, NHS Human Resources Director, James Newman, NHS Nutritionist, and Sinkler.

Forty Northeastern Health System employees participated in a wellness challenge thanks to a Fitness Activity Grant from Ardmore Institute of Health.   The forty employees divided into two teams of 20 to compete for the most activity minutes. The NHS teams scored higher than any other group who was participating in the Fitness Activity Grant, earning NHS an additional $2,400 in grant money to be used for future wellness initiatives.

The eight-week challenge measured participants’ activity for no less than 10 minutes per session. The grant funds were applied to a Garmin or Fitbit for each participant allowing their tracked minutes to be uploaded to a tracking site.

“The participants had fun challenging each other as well as trying to beat the other team,” said event organizer and Director of Human Resources, Phyllis Smith.

Dr. Mary Moore, an NHS Emergency Department physician, was the top participant logging 11,516 activity minutes. Toni Kemp, NHS’s Employee Health Nurse, was second with 9,869 activity minutes.

“My benefits are multiple,” said Laboratory Director, Clint Horn. “I am able to keep moving a lot longer than I could before starting the program. I can take the stairs without getting winded, I’m more alert, can stay at work longer and have more energy to play with my kids. I also got to know several people that have similar goals and developed friendships through walking together and having a similar focus.”

America has a large number of individuals that struggle with obesity. The physical condition plays havoc in the workplace by affecting employer costs and impairing morale and productivity.

“Since participating in the wellness challenge, daily exercise has become a part of my life,” said Kristi Morgan, Director of Social Services. “I now monitor and track my daily activity, setting goals for myself. The wellness challenge has motivated and inspired me to become more active.”

NHS has long been a champion of employee health, offering healthy meal options and a yearly weight-loss challenge against Cherokee Nation Hastings Indian Medical Center. Employee wellness programs have been proven to reduce health care costs and absenteeism and increase productivity.

“We want our staff to be happy and healthy,” said Smith. “Challenges like this one are a great way to boost morale, make new friends and learn healthy habits at the same time.”

NHS Art Sale Benefits Habitat 4 Humanity

5x5-art-saleTwenty-six Northeastern Health System (NHS) employees recent displayed their artistic abilities to benefit Habitat 4 Humanity (H4H). The two organizations partnered to hold a 5×5 Art Sale at NHS and raised more than $1,300 to help build House #24.

The sale included 61 pieces, all 5×5 in dimension, in a variety of mediums.

“One of the greatest benefits from this event is that NHS employees discovered the many artists in our midst.  There are several other NHS employee artists that did not participate this year who, upon seeing the show, indicated they would do something in the future,” said Susan Hamilton, NHS employee and H4H secretary and Chaplain.” “H4H ED, Linda Cheatham, has already received requests from supporters to do this again next year!  It would be wonderful to build on this year’s success and have this become an annual tradition.”

All proceeds from the sale will be used to help build H4H’s “House #24,” which is expected to begin construction next spring.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

NHS Veterans Continue to Serve their Community

veterans-day-ad-2015The hallmark of any good hospital is the care patients receive. While employees at Northeastern Health System (NHS) take patient care seriously, there is a small group within the health system who have dedicated their lives to serving others. In recognition of Veteran’s Day, NHS would like to thank those employees who served this country and continue to serve, every day, in the halls of the hospital.

“I joined the Air Force to further my education, travel and be a part of something bigger,” said Elizabeth O’Connel, sous chef at NHS’s dietary department. O’Connel currently serves in the Air Force Reserves. “Serving in the Air National Guard has benefited me in so many ways. I would say the ability to adapt and overcome, in various situations, is definitely a big one. My service has given me many opportunities to grow as an individual as well as a teammate.”

Like O’Connel, NHS’s Director of Health Information Management, Cindy Payne, joined the military to learn new skills and help others.

Payne enlisted during her senior year of high school in the Army’s Delayed Entry program. Following graduation she was sent to Ft. McClellan in Alabama for basic training.

“I was in one of the largest groups of women who went through basic training under the Women’s Army Corp (WAC). After basic training, all the women’s statuses changed to Regular Army,” said Payne. “It completely changed my life, my work ethic, self-confidence and my view of the world.”

A strong work ethic and service to others can routinely be seen from the many veterans employed at NHS. NHS would like to say thank you to those who served and who are continuing that service to the community.

Paul Bohren, Pharmacist, Navy

Joe Brossier, CVICU, Air Force

Jason Butcher, LPN, Navy

Harold J. Casper, Patient Access, Army

Mike Cathey, Echo, Air Force

Chris Champlin, Biomed, Air Force

Kevin Cobb, EMS, Navy

Forrest “David” Collins, Patient Access, Army

Robert Crawford, EMS, Army

Stan Duckworth, Laboratory

Anthony Eden, EMS, Marines

Cleve Egdmon, EMS, Navy

Morgan Flanagan, CST, Army

Courtney Frits, Laboratory, Army National Guard

Paul Gartlan, CVICU, Air Force

David Gibbs, Laboratory, Navy

Kelli Guy, Administration, Marines

Ashley Harris, Laboratory

Clint Horn, Laboratory, Navy

Joseph Kavanagh, LPN, Army and Navy

Kyle Kuenning, Emergency Department, Air Force

Madison Medlock, Solutions, Marines

Steve Mount, Security, Navy

Elizabeth O’Connell, Dietary, Air Force

Christina Pait, Physical Therapist, Navy

Cynthia Payne, Health Information, Army

Mark Rogers, Physical Therapist, Army

Tiphanie Russell, Patient Access, Marines

Senadoro Salas, Environmental Services, Marines

Josh Schapp, EMS, Army

Ira Earle Simms, Plant Operations

Constance Smith, Urgent Care, Navy

Chris Taylor, Patient Access, Army

Northeastern Health System adds Nephrologist to Medical Staff

tahirNortheastern Health System is pleased to announce a new addition to the medical staff. Imran Tahir, M.D., is now seeing patients in Tahlequah. Tahir specializes in nephrology, or functions of the kidneys.

“During my interview, I was impressed by the southern hospitality and friendly work atmosphere. I felt I am needed here as a physician,” said Tahir. “I also wanted to live in a small town, away from brutal Chicago winters.”

Tahir is board certified in Internal Medicine and board eligible in nephrology. Looking back at his record, he graduated top of his class and was awarded best resident for three consecutive years during his residency training at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Chicago.

Tahir has been an ardent advocate of medicine from the very beginning and it is from here he advanced his interest in nephrology.

He trained at Loyola University in Chicago where he diversified his experience in nephrology working at the VA Hines and Loyola Medical Center, which also happens to be a busy transplant center. He has been mentored by extremely qualified and world-renowned nephrologists.

“Having a nephrologist in Tahlequah is a great thing for so many of our patients,” said CJ Jankas, AVP of Physician Services at NHS. “Having a nephrologist with Dr. Tahir’s credentials and experience is even better. He will certainly compliment the quality services we have at NHS.”

Tahir believes in providing a very comprehensive and, at the same time, a precise treatment plan designed to meet his patient’s needs at an individual level.

He is energetic, loves working both inpatient and outpatient, and develops a specific bond with all his patients. He believes in quality of care and his concept envisages involving a holistic team approach including PCP, sub specialists, nursing staff and social workers to improve patient care standards. This kind of quality of practice sets him apart, not only as a physician, but a wonderful humanitarian as well. Consulting Tahir will provide patients with confidence, a better patient physician relationship and clarity in understanding their options, resulting in an optimum level of functioning and health.

Tahir and his wife, Muneeza Afif, who is a hospitalist, have been married for seven years. They enjoy spending time with their two-year-old daughter, Mahnoor, and their four-month-old son, Nyle.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

To make an appointment with Tahir, please call (918) 207-1189.

NHS Coders Receive Certification

nhs-coders

Photo Caption: Coders at Northeastern Health System spend countless hours on continuing education to make sure each patient receives the correct bill. Pictured are: (Row 1, L to R) Sasha Landaverde, Cheryl Gray, Marlene Markham, Sheryl Ray; (Row 2) Stacy Fountain, Galina Fisher, Stefanie Ballard, Meagan Anderson. Not pictured: Natasha Mora.

The world of medical coding has become quite demanding, requiring knowledge of thousands of codes and the ability to be accurate. Coders at Northeastern Health System spend countless hours on continuing education to make sure each patient receives the correct bill. This continuing education has resulted in the entire group of coders obtaining certification.

A medical coder is a health Information professional who assigns universally identifiable codes to a patient’s medical diagnoses and procedures. There are thousands of codes and they change frequently, making it a difficult position.

“We pride ourselves in being able to develop and educate qualified coders from within the hospital, as well as the surrounding community, without having to contract out to other areas,” said Cheryl Gray, coding supervisor at NHS. “This means that our patients and providers can feel confident that our accounts are being coded and billed with a high level of accuracy.”

Meagan Anderson recently obtained her CCA making her a Certified Coding Analyst.

“To pass the CCA there was a lot of on-the-job training and knowledge gained from experience,” said Anderson. “The CCA test not only tests your knowledge of coding, but it also tests you on HIPAA guidelines, billing details and how clinical information is stored in a patient’s medical record.”

Having a fully certified coding team allows for more accuracy in the billing process, allowing the hospital to help keep costs down for patients.

Coder Stefanie Ballard recently became a Certified Coding Specialist.

“We receive a lot of encouragement and support from our co-workers and supervisors,” said Ballard. “It also gives our hospital a positive image since everyone in our department has a certification of some kind now.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

For more information on the service offered by Northeastern Health System, visit www.nhs-ok.org.

 

 

Sartan Credits Faith for Overcoming Adversity

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Pearl Sartan had every reason to give up on her faith. Last October, worn down from spending time in the hospital with her ill husband, she went to Northeastern Health System for her first mammogram in many years. While waiting for the results, her husband passed away. Shortly thereafter she received the news she had breast cancer, and her journey of tests, surgeries and treatments began.

According to Sartan, this experience only strengthened her faith, causing her to lean on the Lord.

“They say anything that makes you pray and read the Bible more is good for you, so I guess it was good for me,” Sartan laughed before becoming more somber. “I had just lost my husband, and then I was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t have time to mourn. I had to pick up and go on with what I had to do for myself. My family and friends were there supporting me and helping me.”

Following her mammogram, Sartan underwent more scans and a biopsy. She later had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.

“I did chemo every three weeks. I needed four treatments but could only handle three because they made me really sick,” she remembered. “They did my surgery to remove the breast, and then I started doing radiation treatments. I did 39 of those. It was just that it was so strong that it burnt me and I would have to take two to three days off to let it heal.”

Other changes are common when undergoing cancer treatments. Exhaustion, lack of appetite and taste changes are experienced by many patients, and Sartan was no exception.

“The chemo made me really weak and I couldn’t eat. Nothing tasted good. I could hardly find anything to drink,” she recalled. “It had been four years since I had had coffee and that’s all I could drink. Then I got to where I could drink chocolate milk. That’s what I drank during the last part of my chemo.”

Through it all, Sartan kept her faith in God and trusted him to bring her through.

“It didn’t upset me. I just knew that it was in the Lord’s hands and I trusted him,” said Sartan.

Cancer does not only affect the patient. Family members and close friends create a vital support system, but it can be hard on these loved ones.

“My daughter had to lose a lot of sleep, because there were times that I couldn’t sleep and she had to bring me things because I was so week. My brother, sister-in-law and granddaughter would stay with me to help.”

One year later, Sartan has confronted her battle with cancer and the death of her husband. Her strength, faith and family support have helped.

“There’s nothing that you can’t get through, regardless – cancer, of any kind – if you have the Lord, because there’s nothing impossible with him.”

Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center at Northeastern Health System, offers a full array of cancer treatment options, allowing patients in the rural area to receive quality care. The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

Trammel’s Missed Mammograms Lead to Mastectomy

trammel-cheryl3

“The best protection is early detection,” a saying the public has heard numerous times surrounding breast cancer awareness. For Cheryl Trammel, this saying took on new meaning after discovering a lump in her breast.

“I had not had a mammogram in eight years. My doctor got me an appointment, the same day, at Northeastern Health System,” said Trammel. “The best advice I can give, is to have yearly mammograms. It could have kept me from having a mastectomy.”

In 2010, Trammel discovered a lump. She visited her doctor who ordered a mammogram, which was followed by an ultra sound and a biopsy.

“When I received the bad news I was sick at my stomach,” remembered Trammel. “My mind started thinking about everything. How bad is it? Am I going to live through this? How bad are the treatments?”

Following her first PET scan, an imaging test allowing healthcare providers to check for diseases in the body, Trammel was told she also had papillary thyroid cancer.

“I had six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation,” she said. “I was able to have my radiation at Northeastern Health System, and they were awesome. I would have my treatments Monday through Friday on my lunch hour, then return to work.”

Despite her double diagnoses, Trammel’s experience was better than she expected.

“I expected to be a lot sicker,” she said. “I was surprised I only felt like I had the flu. I would have treatment on Thursday, go back for a shot on Friday, feel bad Saturday and Sunday, then be back to work on Monday. I was very lucky I didn’t have any negative reactions to the medications they gave me.”

Trammel credits her positive attitude, support from family and friends, and her team of healthcare providers, with her positive outcome.

“Cancer is a very scary disease. There is not a day that goes by when you don’t think about it returning,” she said. “You are at the mercy of your doctors. I was blessed to have an awesome breast doctor, endocrinologist, and radiologist.   It’s also a very expensive disease. Hopefully in the near future they will find a cure.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community. As a result, NHS is offering $75 mammogram screenings during the month of October, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment for a mammogram and take advantage of the $75 flat fee, please call (918) 772-4588.

NHS Welcomes Two Interventional Cardiologists

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Since its conception in 2005, Northeastern Health System’s (NHS) catheterization lab has increased in number of procedures. What began as a service offered only a few days a week has grown to a lab that is continually full. While the volume has increased, NHS’s cath lab remains one of the safest in the area, thanks in part to two new Interventional Cardiologists, Jack Casas, M.D., and Matthew Comstock, D.O.

“Interventional cardiology includes angioplasty and stents, pacemakers, defibrillators, peripheral arterial disease treatment, dialysis graft treatment, and other heart-related procedures,” said Casas. “Having these services here allows our patients and their family members to remain local. Having to travel great distances causes strain on families, employment and overall care.”

The opportunity to offer advanced care to a rural community is also something that attracted Comstock to the area.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to be here and make a difference in this community,” said Comstock. “By growing and expanding the depth of cardiology services available to the community we can improve the access to cardiac care and cardiology based outcomes in the region.”

Casas graduated from the University of California at Davis. He joined NHS because it has developed into a large healthcare system in need of specialty services; an area in which he felt he could make a difference.

“I believe the best thing we can do for patients is establish a good quality of life,” said Casas.

Casas and his wife of 10 years have four children and six grandchildren.

Comstock graduated from Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. The Tahlequah community and its lifestyle, coupled with the ability to work for a growing health system, attracted him to the area.

“There’s a large opportunity for growth in this area of the state and cardiology is largely underserved,” said Comstock. “The staff are hard-working and caring and treat patients the way I try to treat them. Every time I treat a patient, I try and ask myself, ‘If this was my mom or dad, how would I want them to be treated and what would I want the doctor to be willing to do for them?’”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to bring specialized physicians to serve the community.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call (918) 229-1431.

Jana Shumate’s battle with Breast Cancer Changed her Outlook on Life
Jana Shumate was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram at Northeastern Health System. Her battle with breast cancer changed her outlook on life, motivating her to focus on the positive and making her more empathetic to the struggles of those she encounters

Jana Shumate was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram at Northeastern Health System. Her battle with breast cancer changed her outlook on life, motivating her to focus on the positive and making her more empathetic to the struggles of those she encounters

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Jana Shumate’s battle with breast cancer changed her outlook on life, motivating her to focus on the positive and making her more empathetic to the struggles of those she encounters. She was first diagnosed in 2009 after a routine mammogram. What followed would be a period of highs and lows.

“There was an abnormality found during a routine mammogram at Northeastern Health System, so they also did an ultrasound,” remembered Shumate. “All my mammograms are done in the Women’s Center at NHS. The staff is great, especially Misty Branan who has been so caring with me.”

In 2009, the NHS Cancer Center was just being formed, forcing Shumate to make the journey to Tulsa for a specialist and chemotherapy. NHS now offers a full range of cancer treatment, allowing patients to remain close to home.

“A needle biopsy confirmed that it was ductal carcinoma,” said Shumate. “I was shocked, but ready to take action. I felt that there was an enemy in my body and the sooner we could get rid of it the better.”

The following weeks sent Shumate on an emotional roller coaster as she underwent a barrage of tests.

“There would be good news, followed by bad news, followed by decision making,” she said. “It was very all-consuming.”

Shumate underwent a lumpectomy, removal of lymph nodes, 24 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of radiation.

“I was able to have radiation here at the NHS Cancer Center,” said Shumate. “Wylie and Kristen [in the cancer center] are excellent and almost made it fun!”

Often times, healthcare providers are the people patients interact with the most during cancer treatments. It is not uncommon for patients to build a bond with their nurses, doctors and radiology technicians.

“As a patient you go through many emotions and changes – being scared, anxious, mad and sad, not looking like yourself, losing hair, being sick, becoming weak, feeling like you don’t have control of what is happening and the list goes on,” said Shumate. “The staff makes a big difference in every procedure and appointment. I have been very fortunate to have excellent doctors and staff here at NHS and in Tulsa. Some of these people I would see several times a week. You become very dependent upon them as part of your support system.”

Shumate’s faith, her husband, Kevin, and many other family members and friends, were of great comfort and support.

“My faith in God, his plans for me, and the support of my family and friends, was so important to my recovery.

My husband, Kevin, was my constant companion. He went to all my appointments, was another set of eyes and ears, and my biggest encourager. I have been a survivor for almost 8 years,” said Shumate. “Having cancer has motivated me to try and focus on the positive. I realize more now, that you can’t look at someone and tell what struggles they are fighting. So I try to live by this saying, ‘Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle!’”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community. As a result, NHS is offering $75 mammogram screenings during the month of October, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment for a mammogram and take advantage of the $75 flat fee, please call (918) 772-4588.

NHS Volunteers Save Hospital Thousands in Labor
The volunteer’s at Northeastern Health System were recently thanked for their service through a banquet held in their honor. In 2015, the volunteers donated nearly 14,000 hours, equivilant to nearly $300,000.

The volunteer’s at Northeastern Health System were recently thanked for their service through a banquet held in their honor. In 2015, the volunteers donated nearly 14,000 hours, equivilant to nearly $300,000.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tahlequah City Hospital Auxiliary volunteers contributed nearly $300,000 in labor through their work at the hospital and Remarkables Thrift Store. The 2015 report released by the hospital shows the 56 Auxiliary members worked 13,855 hours.

“The work done by our volunteers is essential to the hospital’s ability to offer quality medical care,” said NHS Executive Vice President, Jim Berry. “Not only do they contribute significantly in man hours, but they frequently purchase equipment for the facility and provide scholarships to students. Their organization is a great benefit to the community.”

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63.4 million Americans, or 26.8 percent of the adult population, gave 8.1 billion hours of volunteer services worth $169 billion.

“It is very difficult to put a dollar value on volunteer time,” said TCH Director of Auxiliary Services, Ami Maddocks. “Volunteers provide many intangibles that cannot be easily quantified. For example, volunteers demonstrate the amount of support an organization has within a community, provide work for short periods of time and provide support on a wide range of projects.”

The Northeastern Health System’s Auxiliary began in 1974 when a group of volunteers gathered on Muskogee Avenue to open a clothing and resale shop called Remarkables. Years later, this same group of volunteers opened another business in the waiting room at the hospital. This business was a “gift shop” operated from a kiosk which later turned into a permanent store located in the front lobby of the hospital. More than 40 years later, both businesses are successfully in operation.

“I think I speak for all of the volunteers when I say we volunteer because we believe it makes a difference in people’s lives,” said Auxiliary President SueAnn Freeman. “It is truly amazing to think about the fact that each nickel and dime we make through sales or through our time is then turned into the technology used to save someone’s life.”

The Northeastern Health System Auxiliary is open to anyone 18 years of age or older. Volunteers typically donate 4 hours per week of time in a variety of areas throughout the hospital and at Remarkables. Auxiliary members may volunteer on a permanent basis, or volunteer for special tasks. For more information, or an application, please contact Tahlequah City Hospital’s Volunteer Office at (918) 453-2105, or visit www.tch-ok.org.

 

 

Myers Named Chief of Surgery at NHS
Photo Caption: Dr. Jack Myers was recently named Chief of Surgery at Northeastern Health System. His surgical experience, as well as his vast knowledge of hospital history and workings, will greatly compliment his new role.

Photo Caption: Dr. Jack Myers was recently named Chief of Surgery at Northeastern Health System. His surgical experience, as well as his vast knowledge of hospital history and workings, will greatly compliment his new role.

 

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Jack Myers, D.O., was recently named Chief of Surgery at Northeastern Health System. His surgical experience, as well as his vast knowledge of hospital history and workings, will greatly compliment his new role.

“I have worked in several roles in the hospital,” said Myers. “I started as an emergency room nurse tech in 1997. I was also an operating room orderly in 1999.”

By 2002 Myers was visiting patients as a medical student. Upon graduation he served as the emergency room attending physician from 2006 to 2008.

“I’ve literally and figuratively grown up in this facility,” said Myers. “I’ve mopped floors, stocked rooms, made coffee, applied dressings, bathed patients, and been a patient myself.”

Myers credits several mentors for his success as a physician.

“I started working here during undergraduate school at the University of Arkansas on nights and weekends.  I literally didn’t know what vital signs were,” remembered Myers. “ I had several mentors at this facility over the years, and I wouldn’t be the physician and surgeon I am today without them.  Roberta Jones, Steve Imhoff, and Pat Butler were emergency room nurses at the time.   Being allowed to participate in their end of patient care has given me perspective that I’ll use for the rest of my career.  Dr. John Galdamez was my mentor from undergraduate studies through surgical residency.  He’s probably the most gifted and inspiring physician I’ve ever known.   Dr. Randall Turner was also incredibly kind to me, and helped get me into medical school.  Dr. Tom Ward was a legendary surgeon here and I certainly enjoyed spending time with him as a medical student.”

Myers is excited to take on his new role as Chief of Surgery.

“I like to think that being appointed Chief of Surgery means that my peers respect me as a surgeon and see me as a leader,” he said. “One of the best things about working at NHS is feeling genuinely supported and appreciated by the administration.”

Myers and his wife of 10 years, Lana, have four children. When not working, Myers spends his time as a song writer and musician for his band The Vox Squadron. He also enjoys many outdoor activities.

Northeastern Health System offers Mammography Special
Photo Caption: The women’s health center at Northeastern Health System is offering $75 screening mammograms in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment, call (918) 772-4588. Pictured are the Women’s Center staff, row 1 (l to r): Dr. Cole, Misty Branan, Lirianne Escota, Katie Sellers, (row 2, L to R): Tiffany McCarter, Adrian Dismang, Sandra Medlin.

Photo Caption: The women’s health center at Northeastern Health System is offering $75 screening mammograms in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment, call (918) 772-4588. Pictured are the Women’s Center staff, row 1 (l to r): Dr. Cole, Misty Branan, Lirianne Escota, Katie Sellers, (row 2, L to R): Tiffany McCarter, Adrian Dismang, Sandra Medlin.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, Northeastern Health System is offering mammogram screenings for a flat fee of $75. The focus of this annual effort is to educate women, and those who love them, about the important benefits of early breast cancer detection.

“Unfortunately, too many women fail to receive their annual mammography screenings,” said Misty Branan, NHS mammography technologist. “In some cases, this can be attributed to a lack of education. There are still some people who do not understand the importance of mammography in early breast cancer detection.   Other women avoid the annual tests because they are afraid; scared that the test itself will hurt or afraid of receiving possible bad news.”

The messages for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month are important:

  • Early detection saves lives.
  • Mammography screening is the single most effective method of early detection.
  • An annual mammogram is recommended for all women over 40 years of age.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally feel and should report any changes to their health care provider.
  • Breast self-examinations (monthly from age 20) and clinical examinations (at least every three years from age 20 to 35, and annually from age 40 and up) should be a part of regular breast health screenings.

 

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women,” said Branan. “Finding a tumor at its earliest stages and getting appropriate treatment not only provides the best chance of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis, but also provides the broadest range of effective treatment options.”

In addition to the inherited higher risk from a “breast cancer” gene, a number of other risk factors have been identified. These risk factors may be a good point of discussion for a women to outline a breast cancer screening plan with her health provider, but a lack of risk factors does not mean that a woman will not develop breast cancer. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer have none of these risk factors, so it is still important to receive regular breast cancer screenings.

Estrogen-Related Risk Factors:

  • Having an early first period (before the age of 12)
  • Having a late first pregnancy (after age 25 or 35)
  • Having no children
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Use of oral contraceptives has not been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.

 

Risk Factors You Can Change:

  • High fat intake – eat leaner meats and limit intake of saturated or hydrogenated fats.
  • Low fiber intake – increase consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake – eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • High alcohol intake – abstain from drinking or drink in moderation (less than two drinks per day).
  • Sedentary lifestyle – stay active, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most, if not all, days; maintain a healthy weight.
  • Smoking – enroll in a smoking cessation program or research over-the-counter aids to quit on your own.

 

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community. To make an appointment for a mammogram and take advantage of the $75 flat fee, please call (918) 772-4588.

Northeastern Health System Announces Trimble as OB Director
Northeastern Health System Announces Trimble as OB Director

Northeastern Health System Announces Trimble as OB Director

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Northeastern Oklahoma Health System is pleased to announce the addition of Teina Trimble as the hospital’s new director of obstetrics. Trimble, who comes with more than 19 years of OB experience, has worked at NHS as a travel nurse for the past six years and is excited to call OB her permanent home.

“I started travel nursing in 2010 and took my first assignment here at NHS. I loved it so much I continued to come back and work here,” said Trimble. “It is a wonderful place to work. I think the thing that I like the very best is that the people here treat you like family. I was not a true employee of the hospital, yet the people made me feel like I was part of the family.”

Trimble graduated from NEO A&M collage in 1997. She then worked for a hospital for 13 years before deciding to become a travel nurse. Travel nurses typically fill gaps at facilities across the country due to extended absences, census fluctuations, staff training or other situations.

“We are ecstatic Teina has accepted the OB director position,” said Donna Dallis, NHS VP of Patient Care. “She is extremely dedicated to the field of nursing, continually strives to be the best she can, and gets along well with the other girls in the department.”

In addition to her many years of experience in OB, Trimble’s interpersonal skills make her a valued leader for the department.

“I try to listen with an open mind to everything the staff has to say,” said Trimble. “I am continually looking for ways to make the department flow better. “

Trimble credits her compassion and love of nursing to the time she spent caring for her ill mother.

“Taking care of my mom for 18 years while she was dying helped me realize I can make a difference in people’s lives,” said Trimble. “We stayed many days and nights in the hospital. I loved what the nurses did, so in my later years I went back to school and became a nurse.”

While she loved being a travel nurse, Trimble says she felt it was time to step into a position that would allow her to make a difference not only to the patients, but also to the staff.

“I love the girls I work with, and we have wonderful providers,” she said, “but, again, the thing I like best about this hospital is they make you feel like family. Everyone is so special and I feel like they treat their patients the same way.”

New Director to Help Improve Services at Northeastern Health System
Photo Caption: Tiffany Rush has recently been named as Director of the Medical/Surgical unit at Northeastern Healthy System. Her talent and expertise will add value to one of the busiest departments in the hospital.

Photo Caption: Tiffany Rush has recently been named as Director of the Medical/Surgical unit at Northeastern Healthy System. Her talent and expertise will add value to one of the busiest departments in the hospital.

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Tiffany Rush, RN, is proof that hard work pays off. Having worked for Northeastern Health System for six and a half years, Rush is excited about her new position as director of the Medical and Surgical (Med/Surg) unit. Understanding the changes in healthcare today, Rush intends to offer advanced education to staff in her department.

“My philosophy is ‘see one; do one; teach one.’ I think by sharing all you learn and being a teacher to those you’re in contact with, makes us all better equipped to provide the best care possible,” said Rush. “Patients are more acutely ill with chronic conditions and multiple comorbidities. It’s imperative that we keep up with evidenced-based practices and have positive outcomes.”

Rush began her NHS career as a nurse on the Med/Surg unit. She was soon promoted to charge nurse before moving up to serve as the hospital’s transfer coordinator and house supervisor.

“I feel the house supervisor position has been the most beneficial to prepare me for my new role as director,” she said. “NHS has recognized my potential, commitment and hard work, and they have allowed me these great opportunities to show all the skills I possess.”

The Med/Surg unit of the hospital is the unit that sees the greatest variety of patients, therefore providing the greatest learning environment.

“The patients are what make Med/Surg great,” said Rush. “This unit prepares a nurse mentally and physically and helps grow you into a person who learns respect, humility and team work.”

Northeastern Health System has long been known for providing excellence in healthcare. The numerous specialties provided are not commonly found in a rural hospital; however, the leadership at NHS has been committed to offering the community outstanding services close to home. Their success is evidenced by the tremendous growth experienced by the system, allowing them to branch out with services to surrounding communities.

“At NHS you’ll encounter the most caring and compassionate staff,” said Rush. “We all truly want your stay to be as pleasant and comfortable as possible during what is, undoubtedly, a not-so-pleasant time in your life.”

 

NHS Continuing to Invest in Ft. Gibson
Northeastern Health System is expanding its services in Ft. Gibson. Construction has already begun on the current facility and will add an additional 3,876 square feet to the current building, as well as adding three new family practice providers.

Northeastern Health System is expanding its services in Ft. Gibson. Construction has already begun on the current facility and will add an additional 3,876 square feet to the current building, as well as adding three new family practice providers.

 

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – In 2007, Northeastern Health System, then known as Tahlequah City Hospital, began construction projects amounting to more than $2.5 million in Ft. Gibson. These projects brought much needed healthcare to the area that has continued to thrive. As a result of the continued support and healthcare needs, NHS is once again investing in the Ft. Gibson community.
“We have seen a great need for more healthcare services in our surrounding communities,” said NHS VP of Operations, Mark McCroskey. “One of our goals is to offer quality healthcare close to home. The Ft. Gibson expansion will do just that.”
Construction, already underway, at the Ft. Gibson Medical Clinic is expected to be completed this November. It will add an additional 3,876 square feet to the current building, as well as adding three new family practice providers.
The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.
“The addition of more providers will make it easier for Ft. Gibson residents to get the healthcare they need in a timely manner,” said McCroskey. “We have loved serving our Ft. Gibson neighbors and are very excited to offer new services.”

NHS & Hastings Participate in Hospital Week
Brian Woodliff (left) and Jim Berry (far right) awarding Toni Kemp (middle) this year’s Biggest Loser award.

Brian Woodliff (left) and Jim Berry (far right) awarding Toni Kemp (middle) this year’s Biggest Loser award.

Recently, Northeastern Health System and W.W. Hastings Hospital joined forces to fight workforce obesity and host a conjoined family night sponsored by Cherokee Health Partners, W.W. Hastings Auxiliary and Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary. Activities included a weight-loss challenge, water balloon volleyball, inflatables, live music, food truck festival and money raised for the Tahlequah ROAR program and Tahlequah Food Pantry.

Two-thousand and sixteen marked the sixth year for the Biggest Loser competition between the two hospitals. NHS’s Toni Kemp won the overall competition with her loss of 45.4 pounds.  Runner’s up were Hastings employee Johnny Gilliam and NHS’s Nicole Little. Cumulatively, the hospital’s employees lost a combined weight of 635.7 pounds.

“Our two hospitals challenged each other to see which employee can lose the highest percentage of body weight over a three-month period,” said NHS President and CEO Brian Woodliff.  “Not only did this encourage our employees to choose healthier lifestyles, but it encouraged our two hospitals in a fun, healthy activity.”

This year’s family night took a different approach taking the focus off of competition and onto success both hospitals have had the last year. The Kickin’ Taco, Le Grubs and Soul Shack, all local food trucks, provided meals to all who attended. The Soul Shack sold out of food first securing the coveted Food Truck War trophy. The entertainment for the evening was the lively Rod Robertson Band. Other fun activities the attendees participated in were jump houses for the kids, horse shoes, a photo booth and drawings for fun prizes.

“We couldn’t offer quality healthcare if it weren’t for our employees,” said Woodliff.  “Hospital week activities are a fun way to acknowledge our employees and to let the staff of both hospitals interact.  We all work together to improve the overall health of this community and we are fortunate to have such a strong relationship with the Cherokee Nation.”

Topping off the week was a golf tournament was held at Cherokee Springs. Over $2,600 was collected from tournament that will go to the Tahlequah ROAR Program of Tahlequah Public Schools.

 

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

CS pill photoThe phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ has more truth to it than some may realize.

Studies performed at Cornell University suggest the quercetin found in apples protects brain cells against neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Eating foods such as apples are beneficial for over-all health and can aid in the prevention of illness which means less doctor visits!

While NHS wants their patients well, prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer. Evidence from studies show that overuse of antibiotics can create resistance in bacteria.

“Multi drug resistance can create what we call ‘super bugs’, said Jason Ballew, M.D. and Medical Director of ER. “This is serious because many infections no longer respond to antibiotics.”

A recent study by the CDC demonstrated that 1 out of 3 antibiotic prescriptions written in the United States is unnecessary.

Antibiotics have been a common form of treatment for illnesses such as Streptococcus Pharyngitis (Strep Throat) and Acute Otitis Media (ear infection), sinus infections, and bronchitis. Many recent studies have shown that they do not decrease the time of infection when compared against non-antibiotic treatments for these illnesses.

With strep-throat, in particular, we’ve learned that giving a single dose of steroids gets patients feeling better much more quickly than giving antibiotics.  Getting the patient feeling better is what it’s all about.

Beginning in January of 2015, Northeastern Health System and W.W. Hastings initiated a committee called Tahlequah’s Best Practice Committee. The TBPC applies national trends in healthcare including accountability when prescribing antibiotics in order to provide care that surpasses expectations. By doing so, TBPC promotes wellness in the community, which is the top priority, and enhances education to medical providers in surrounding areas.

We Can ALL Help SomeONE
Hershal headshot

Hershel Faucett, Housekeeper at Northeastern Health System

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” This quote by Ronald Regan is powerful in its meaning. Often times, taking the initiative to help one person can make more of an impact than we may realize.

Hershel Faucett, an employee at NHS, decided to pay it forward and lend a helping hand to a patient at one of our clinics. Here is his story.

Throughout Hershel’s day to day work routine, he would often see the same man waiting to be picked up after his appointment. He noticed the man seemed down in the dumps so Hershel thought he would strike up a conversation with him to change that.

“I just went up to him and introduced myself and he did the same,” said Hershel. “We would talk every time we saw each other and the topic was often over fishing because we both enjoy that hobby very much. I just wanted to cheer him up and let him know that even though he was in the shape that he was in, his life was still meaningful. I didn’t want him to lose hope.”

After several encounters, Hershel and the man became good friends. He noticed a change in the man.

“As time went on, I noticed he seemed more hopeful about life,” said Hershel. “He became more outgoing and happy.”

The man’s wheelchair caught Hershel’s attention one day. He saw that it was in poor condition. It was becoming tattered, old and not functioning as it should. Once again, Hershel felt called to do something about it.

“I noticed his wheelchair wasn’t going to last much longer so I asked him if he had talked to anyone about replacing it,” said Hershel. “He said he hadn’t thought about it and he was just thankful to have it. I asked him if it was ok for me to call around and see what I could do about getting him a new one.”

Hershel and his wife Rose began to call different businesses and ask around about a wheelchair. Together they were able to get a wheelchair that was in excellent condition for Hershel’s new friend.

“The only thing it needed was foot rests so I was able to get some from maintenance at NHS and put those on,” said Hershel. “When I gave him the wheelchair he was delighted. He gave me a great big smile and was so thankful for it. I’ve always had a place in my heart to help others. When I noticed the condition of his wheelchair, I felt led to do something about it.”

Prior to joining NHS, Hershel and his wife worked for a non-profit organization in Texas. They lived with 18 disabled men and women helping take care of them by giving them a better quality of life.

“My favorite thing about working there was being able to show the men and women that we cared about them,” said Hershel. “We would take them on a big trip once a year and we traveled to places like

Nashville, Branson and even Tahlequah for the Labor Day festivals. We knew we wanted to reside in Tahlequah permanently.”

After retiring and moving to Tahlequah, Hershel wanted to work again. Andy Klutts, NHS Director of Environmental Services, was a friend of Hershel’s and told him about a position he had open.

“Andy encouraged me to apply at Northeastern Health System,” said Hershel. “It seemed like the right place for me so I applied and have never regretted it. I’ve been here a year and a half now and I dearly love it.”

We admire Hershel’s dedication to our hospital and his desire to help those around him. He saw someone that he could help make a difference in their life and he did just that. We are proud to have Hershel a part of our NHS team.

Your Health; Our Promise
Tim Green, RN, CVICU, Sherry Owen, RRT, Cardiopulmonary and Rene Botts, RN, MICU prepare ventilator settings for a patient.

Tim Green, RN, CVICU, Sherry Owen, RRT, Cardiopulmonary and Rene Botts, RN, MICU prepare ventilator settings for a patient.

Your health is our main concern. Our promise is to provide the best care, always respect your privacy and continually improve hospital care for generations to come.

Hospitals are constantly buzzing with people in and out for different reasons. Whether a patient is in our care due to an injury or an illness, we do not want their recovery to be hindered by a hospital acquired condition.

Ventilator Acquired Pneumonia, also known as VAP, is a lung infection that can occur in hospitals when a patient is placed on a ventilator. A ventilator is a machine that helps a patient breath. Utilizing the machine allows the body to rest assisting in the healing process.

Patients have a greater chance of acquiring VAP the longer they are on a ventilator. This can potentially leave the patient with more problems than they had at admission.

“Weaning our patients off of the ventilator as soon as possible should be the goal for all caregivers,” said Sandy Henry, Director of Cardiopulmonary. “However, what caused the patient to be on the ventilator in the first place should be addressed.”

Most common reasons patients are put on a ventilator:

  • Acute respiratory distress
  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Pneumonia
  • Overdose
  • Post-operative complication (after surgery)

Our physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, lab/x-ray technicians, pharmacists and infection control officer all implement Ventilator Management which they call ‘the bundle’ to prevent VAP from occurring in our patients.

Steps taken during “the bundle”:

  • Keeping the head of the bed at or above 30 degrees to prevent aspiration of secretions
  • Frequent oral care to reduce growth of bacteria
  • Turning feeding tubes off when moving patient or lowering the head of the bed
  • Waking the patient daily to allow them to breathe on their own also known as ‘sedation interruption’
  • Medication to prevent gastric reflux which leads to aspiration (a frequent cause of pneumonia)

“It is important that we completely eliminate VAP,” said Cheri. “No matter what type of illness has caused our patients to be put on ventilator, we have been able to prevent VAP by utilizing ‘the bundle’ in our patients’ care plan. Thanks to our dedicated team, NHS has had a great outcome for 2015.”

Our Infection Control Officer, Cheri Oglesbee, audits our ventilator use every month for every patient. Her audits consist of tracking the number of patients on a ventilator, total number of ventilator days generated, signs/symptoms of developing infection, the average length of stay for our patients and reporting the outcome.

  • NHS VAP cases for 2015 = 0
  • NHS VAP cases for 2014 = 4
  • NHS VAP cases for 2013 = 4

“Patients at our hospital are vulnerable,” said Julie Potts, AVP of Quality, Safety & Accreditation. “While our main concern is treating their admitted diagnosis, we are continuously monitoring their surrounding environment to ensure their safety. The fact that NHS experienced zero VAP cases for 2015 means that our staff are surpassing National standards – that is something our community should be proud of.”

Our NHS team members work together to practice evidence based medicine which assists in the prevention of VAP. We are proud of their efforts and excited to announce we had zero patients acquire Ventilator Associated Pneumonia for 2015!

Extraordinary Physician Returns to NHS
Brian Woodliff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northeastern Health System, Charles Gosnell, M.D. and new Trustee of the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board, Jim Berry, Hospital Administrator and Vice President of Northeastern Health System.

Brian Woodliff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northeastern Health System, Charles Gosnell, M.D. and new Trustee of the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board, Jim Berry, Hospital Administrator and Vice President of Northeastern Health System.

Our halls have missed Dr. Gosnell. After 12 years of retirement he is back serving as a trustee on the Tahlequah Hospital Authority. His medical expertise, heart for the community and his proven leadership made him a natural fit for the newly opened seat.

“Dr. Gosnell’s reputation, broad range of medical experience and knowledge of the internal workings of hospitals and health systems made him the ideal candidate to take on the physician representative position on the Board of Trustees,” said Brian Woodliff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northeastern Health System. “He will bring integrity and mission to every decision he supports.”

Charles attended the University Of Oklahoma College Of Medicine where he graduated with his doctorate in 1967. After graduation, Charles completed his residencies and his fellowship in imaging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1981 specializing in diagnostic radiology and nuclear radiology.

Charles has served in many leadership roles, but not limited to:

  • Director of Emergency at St Francis Hospital
  • Founder and President of Emergency Care Inc. at St Francis Hospital
  • Assistant Professor of Radiology and Chief of Nuclear Medicine at City of Faith Medical Center
  • Chairman of the Radiation Safety Committee at City of Faith Medical Center
  • Chairman of the Radiation Safety Committee at Northeastern Health System
  • Medical Director of Radiology at Northeastern Health System
  • Team Physician for the University of Tulsa Basketball
  • Team Physician for Missouri Valley All Star Basketball during their Brazil Tour
  • Medical Director for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (current)
  • Advisory Board member for the Claremore Service Unit and Indian Hospital (current)

Charles proves his love for our community by his acts of service. With the constant desire to always give back, he has served as a mentor for Boys and Girls Club and as a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Tahlequah.

From the medical field to his military service, Charles has consistently led a life dedicated to serving others. He faithfully served our country in the United States Navy Reserves beginning in 1968 to 1977. He was deployed to Vietnam on active duty attached to the Marines as a physician from 1969 to 1970. His efforts in the military did not go unnoticed and he was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal. He was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant Commander in 1977.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve with the type of leader Charles is,” said Gary Harrington, Chairman of the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board. “He has served our community in many leadership roles with an unwavering focus on our regional providers delivering the best healthcare to our part of the state.”

We are delighted to proudly welcome Dr. Charles Gosnell to the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board of Trustees!

Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary: Ambassadors of Goodwill, Service and Compassion

Being as it is National Volunteer Week we recognize our dedicated Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers for their selfless hearts and the helping hands they lend all over our hospital.

Behind the scenes at NHS are over 50 tireless volunteers who work hard each day to ensure every patient’s stay at the hospital is as comfortable as possible.

“Throughout the years the Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary has served as ambassadors of goodwill, service and compassion,” said Vice President of Patient Care and Risk Manager Donna Dallis, MS, RN, CPHRM. “Not only do they provide financial support for our hospital, their smiling faces and caring hearts touch our patients, staff and the community every day.”

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, Auxiliary members will be recognized with an awards luncheon hosted by NHS Administration. During the special event the volunteers will receive their certification of appreciation, hours of service pin and door prizes of all sorts.

“We are fortunate to have such kind and giving volunteers,” said Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “It is an honor to recognize those who have selflessly given so much.”

The Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers serve in multiple different departments; they operate the gift shop; deliver newspapers throughout the hospital; assist at Admitting/Patient Registration, Same Day Surgery and Main Lobby information desks. Additionally, a group of THA volunteers operate Remarkables resale shop downtown Tahlequah.

For more information about the Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary, please call 918-453-2105.

Investing in the Future of Healthcare

IMG_1692 (003)Over 40 Indian Capital Technology Center students toured NHS today to get a first-hand look at the diversity of job opportunities the campus has to offer. Out of the 40 students, 20 (pictured) recently graduated ICTC’s CNA program and are looking to put their new certification to use!

Students were introduced to staff from all of the nursing units and had conversations with various unit directors, doctors and other NHS employees. These students are on their way to do big things in the healthcare field and we could not be happier that they toured our facility!

“I love the opportunity to take what the students are learning in class and watch it ‘come to life’ during our campus tours,” said Erielle Stout, Director of Patient and Public Relations. “These students are at such an impressionable stage where they are making decisions that will effect where they live, what career path they choose and who their employer of choice will be. Giving these students reasons to want to stay in Tahlequah, become invested in our community and help improve the lives of our neighbors through healthcare is the highlight of my day!”

If you know someone that would benefit from taking a tour of our facility to see what NHS has to offer, have them contact Erielle Stout at estout@nhs-ok.org!

Big City Technology, Small Town Feel

Radiology (002)Each Thursday we like to take time to highlight a specific department, say a genuine thank you for the quality of care they provide for our patients. Today, we visited with our Director of Radiology, Daniel Hannon to talk with him about the importance of his departments to the hospital and what they mean to him. Here is what he had to say,

“Here at NHS we are able to provide services and technologies that are typically found in larger cities while maintaining that small town feel for our patients,” said Hannon. “I am very proud to work with a team that takes so much pride in providing such specialized care for their community. In the 18 years of my imaging career I have never seen a more specialized staff. All of our Technologists are Board Certified specifically to their particular modality. This is just one more example of our hospital’s commitment to quality care and best practices for our patients.”

We are thankful for our Radiology team and the advanced care they provide for our patients. These staff who specialize in medical imaging such as x-rays, CTs, MRIs, PETs, fusion imaging and ultrasound help SAVE LIVES!

Springtime Pasta and Beans

food-pasta-tomato-theme-workspaces

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Kidney Beans, a Mixture of Black Beans or other favorite Beans

6 ounces uncooked or farfalle (bow tie pasta)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

6 center-cut lean ham slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups sliced red onion

8 garlic cloves, sliced

3 ounces thinly sliced mushrooms

1 cup fresh shelled or frozen green peas, thawed

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 ounces fresh Shredded Parmesan cheese (about 6 tablespoons)

1/2 cup torn basil leaves (fresh)

Preparation

Place uncooked beans in a large pot of boiling water cook 1 minute

Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted water

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat

Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat

Add ham sauté 3 minutes or until ham begins to brown

Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender

Add mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown

Add kidney beans and peas, sauté 2 minutes

Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil, pasta, juice, and salt, cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated

Remove pan from heat

Stir in 3 tablespoons cheese

Divide pasta mixture evenly among 4 bowls, and top evenly with remaining 3 tablespoons cheese and basil

NHS Celebrates National Patient Access Week
group shot

Patient Financial Services Staff

This week, April 3rd-9th, we celebrated national Patient Access Week. Patient Access Week acknowledges the unique contribution patient access associates have on the patient experience. Patient Access associates are the first person patients and visitors encounter in a health care organization. These dedicated staff members fill the roles of receptionists, registration, insurance verification, financial counseling, and scheduling in the health care organization.

The Patient Access Week is sponsored by the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM). NAHAM promotes best practices, standards, and subject matter expertise to influence and promote high quality delivery of Patient Access Services. NAHAM accomplishes its mission through networking, education, and certification opportunities.

In 2015, NAHAM launched AccessKeys. These key performance indicators allow NAHAM members to implement, track, and benchmark service delivery. In 2016, NAHAM will launch further benchmarking keys specifically related to Patient Experience.

We spoke with a few of our employees regarding this national week and what it means to the hospital, here is what they had to say,

“It is very rewarding to know we are able to assist our patients in meeting their healthcare needs,” said Director of Patient Access, Jackie Hullinger. “Scheduling and registering our patients for their procedures as well as educating them about their insurance are all key roles that help the individual departments of this hospital. I am thankful to work with these dedicated people so this week is about showing them how much they are appreciated.”

“Patient Financial Services is a unique department designed to ensure that our patients have a pleasant experience after they have received services at our hospital,” said Patient Financial Services Supervisor, Keeli Duncan. “We are equipped to advise patients on any billing, insurance or payment questions. I am honored to work with such a dedicated and customer oriented staff, and cannot wait to see the accomplishments that this department will have in the future.”

Leadership in both departments shed some love on their staff by organizing daily events throughout the week to show their appreciation. Events included department breakfast and lunch, a candy buffet, service pins, goodie bags, personalized cards and a bulletin board to share thankful messages between co-workers.

Patient Access Staff

Patient Access Staff

HIM Department Stepping Up to the Plate
HIM cropped

NHS Health Information Management Staff

April 4th-9th is National Health Information Professionals Week. During this week we honor and celebrate our health information professionals. The NHS Health Information Management (HIM) department plays a key role in the effective management of health, data and medical records needed to deliver quality healthcare to the public.

We sat down and spoke with Cindy about her department and the importance of her staff’s efforts. Here’s what she had to say,

“The health information technology revolution has been in full swing for some time now, and as technology progresses, the changes that have occurred in the HIM department has left the profession profoundly different since I entered the paper medical record world ten years ago. In record time and at an unprecedented pace, the electronic health record (EHR) has spurred a revolutionary change in HIM departments throughout the country. Our HIM department has stepped up to the plate many times over the years and has met many challenges with a ‘can do’ spirit and will continue to adapt and thrive in this fast paced high-tech world. I’m very proud to be on this champion HIM team and look forward to the high-tech journey we are on!”

In an effort to display appreciation for their staff, the HIM Department leadership organized daily event for their staff. Events include a department breakfast, an ice cream social, a luncheon and pins and certifications of appreciation.

New Director Chooses NHS for Their Excellence in Healthcare
Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas, Director of Life Safety.

We are pleased to introduce Mike Thomas, Director of Life Safety, to our team.

Mike’s new role is to evaluate life safety code compliance. He verifies procedures, inspects patient care areas and ensures compliance.

“Each area of the hospital has to be designed for the type of healthcare it provides,” said Mike. “I make sure that every department is maintained and in compliance with state regulations and federal codes.”

Mike graduated from Okmulgee Tech as a licensed plumber and pipe fitter. He designed and installed plumbing for hospitals from the ground up; then took a turn in his career and went to work for McAlester Regional as the Director of Plant Operations. Prior to NHS, Mike served as a Health Facilities Consultant with OSDH for 19 years.

Because of Mike’s broad experience in healthcare, he was selected by our state leaders to be an inspector for hospitals not only in Oklahoma, but across the United States. He has inspected every single hospital in our state with the exception of Altus.

“Out of every single hospital in the state of Oklahoma, I chose NHS,” said Mike. “I came to work for this hospital because of our excellence in healthcare and the goals we set for ourselves. I knew I wanted to be a part of that.”

Mike is native to Oklahoma and grew up in McAlester. He has been married to his wife Pam, for 37 years. Together they have 2 sons and 5 grandchildren. In Mike’s free time, he enjoys being around family and loved ones.

3 fun facts about Mike Thomas:

  • His favorite music is classic rock
  • He trains race horses
  • He is good at voice impersonations (Bill Clinton)

Welcome to NHS, Mike. We are proud to have you as part of our team!

 

Career Nurse Climbs the Ranks to Oversee NHS’ Patient Care
Donna head shot

Description: Donna Dallis, Vice President of Patient Care.

“I never thought I would leave the bedside.”

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Donna Dallis’ medical career began simply enough as a teenage nurse’s aide, providing basic care in a nursing home for “two dollars and a nickel per hour.”

“I liked it,” Dallas says. “I never thought I would leave the bedside.”

Of course, that was some time ago, and so much has changed since then. Minimum wages have gone up. Technology has improved with the change in centuries. The medical needs are still there, but the care has gotten so much better.

And Donna Dallis has left the floor – but not before accumulating several nursing degrees and working her way into becoming Vice President of Patient Care here at Northeastern Health System.

“It may sound corny, but I miss the floor,” says Dallis, who is as down home as they come.

In her new role, however, she is able to provide so many more patients with the care and dedication so common among the staff at Northeastern Health System. Already responsible for the pharmacy, lab and clinical departments, Dallis has been entrusted this year with the hospital’s top-flight radiology and physical therapy departments and its cutting-edge Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center.

“I’m caring for the patient through someone else,” Dallis says. “I work with the patients when they have a concern (about their care).”

Asked whether she still feels the urge to jump in and help the nursing staff, Dallis says, “I don’t step into the room. I try to help them from the administrative side.”

Dallis comes from a family of nurses, but it should be noted she was first. Her mother and sister have since followed her into the profession, and her daughter is a traveling pediatric nurse, working 13-week stints at hospitals around the country. No word yet on what careers her two grandchildren are considering.

“As many people as I can push into healthcare, I do,” Dallis says. Indeed, she proudly notes newborns at Northeastern Health System are outfitted with onesies that come with little stethoscopes printed on the front.

Dallis joined the staff at Northeastern Health System in 1990, and has been here ever since.

“Yes, that’s very rare,” she says.

Along the way, Dallis has earned an associate’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree and her registered nurse certification and a master’s degree in science from Oklahoma University. She gave up her nursing scrubs in 2000 to become the hospital’s Director of Outpatient Surgery.

“Healthcare … was pretty simple in the 1990s. It least it was to me, as a (licensed practicing nurse) on the floor,” Dallis says. “I’ve learned a lot since then, believe me. As an LPN, the more I increased my knowledge, the more I wanted to learn.

“Now, the more I know about how a hospital is run, the more I want to know. By nature, I just like to be involved. There’s something in healthcare for absolutely everybody.”

Indeed, if there’s a medical specialty, Northeastern Health System has it. It has a heart center to go with its cancer center. It boasts one of the top-rated dialysis units in the nation. It offers oncologists, gastroenterologists, pediatricians, pulmonologists and just about everything in between – including dietary experts.

“We’re bringing people to town a hospital our size doesn’t normally do,” Dallis says, calling the growth “amazing.”

Dallis has seen the hospital’s staff more than quadruple in the last 13 years, from almost 200 to about 900. All of which means as the range of services grows, the less patients have to rely on health facilities elsewhere to get the quality care they need.

“A lot of our patients don’t drive, so it’s less of a burden on their families,” Dallis says. “Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined what Northeastern Health System has turned into.”

 

NHS’ Medical Specialties Prove Community’s Size Doesn’t Matter

Dr. Simpson Adds GI Practice to Hospital’s Other Growing Practices

Bill Simpson head shot

Dr. Bill Simpson, M.D., FACP

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern Health System sits alongside United States Highway 62 in this idyllic community, which stretches out across the rolling hills of eastern Oklahoma. The town’s population has only recently eclipsed 15,000, which makes you wonder how it supports a hospital the size and quality of Northeastern.

Simple. Tahlequah sits squarely in the center of Cherokee County and its 50,000 residents, and the hospital has a close relationship with the Cherokee Nation. That gives so many more people access to Northeastern Health System, it’s cancer center and heart center, and its other state-of-the-art health services.

“It’s the size of the surrounding communities,” says Dr. Bill Simpson, who heads up Northeastern Health System’s gastroenterology (GI) practice. “To support one GI … the size of the town would have to be more than 15,000. But it’s a lot more than 15,000 here.

“Plus, you have the Cherokee Nation and all of its patients. Half my practice is probably referrals from the Cherokee Nation providers. It’s a win-win. The hospital gets patients, and the Nation is able to provide service to their patients at the local level, and at reduced costs.”

Dr. Simpson was brought in to establish Northeastern Health System’s GI practice, diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system. He quickly realized – as all the hospital newcomers do – that by offering specialized services, patients no longer need to travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma City or even Arkansas for top-flight medical care.

“There’s an unmet need here,” says Dr. Simpson. “When hospitals grow out of rural hospitals into being regional centers, you need specialists. The physicians can’t all be PCPs (primary care physicians).”

In recent years, Northeastern Health System has added cardiovascular, urology, pulmonary critical care and orthopedic specialists.

“And now a spine surgeon,” Dr. Simpson says. “Some things need to go to a higher level of care, but there was a lot of stuff not being done here that can now be done at a high level without patients traveling somewhere.”

Dr. Simpson also lends his considerable talents to the hospital’s residency program, which began a partnership with Oklahoma State’s medical school in 2009. Twenty-two med school graduates participate in Northeastern Health System’s two residency programs – Family Medicine and Internal Medicine – hoping to join the knowledgeable, skilled and compassionate physicians that have gone before them.

“We need to educate those young doctors, and I just enjoy teaching. Always have. It’s fun to help them develop as professionals,” Dr. Simpson says.

Like Northeastern Health System’s alliance with Cherokee Health Partners, the residency program helps everyone it touches.

“Teaching requires you stay current, competent, stimulated … that benefits both the physician and the hospital, but it also benefits the patients and the community. We’re bringing doctors to a town this size that we would have trouble recruiting otherwise.”

A Kentucky native, Dr. Simpson is nearing the end of his first year in Tahlequah. He moved here from East Texas, where he helped set up another GI practice, to be with his fiancé – and he couldn’t be happier.

“I love it here. It’s a nice-sized community,” Dr. Simpson says. “It’s a small town, but with the amenities of a larger city, if you need it.”

The feeling is mutual.

NHS Promotes Director to New Position
Julie Potts, NHS Assistant Vice President of Quality, Safety & Accreditation.

Julie Potts, NHS Assistant Vice President of Quality, Safety & Accreditation.

Northeastern Health System is pleased to announce that Julie Potts, BSN, RN, has been promoted from Director of Performance Improvement to Assistant Vice President of Quality, Safety & Accreditation.

Potts’ new role will enforce the importance of quality and safety in patient care to a new level of oversight. Her responsibility is to proactively address risk management and patient safety while continuously making improvements. Potts is committed to listening to the concerns that patients and their families might have to help advance current processes and apply best practices to the delivery of care provided by NHS.

“The goal is to align quality and safety standards to CMS standards,” said Potts. “We want to make sure we are providing the best care and are able to meet regulatory guidelines at any given notice.”

Potts has over 16 years of nursing experience. Her background includes hospital setting, home health and hospice. She came to NHS in 2005 working as a nurse in the Med-Surg department and a few months later was offered the position as Director of Med-Surg; she has been in leadership roles ever since.

“I always felt that nursing was my calling,” said Potts. “I have a heart for helping people and nursing is an amazing way to minister to others.”

Potts has three children, Maranda, Madison and Dustin. She stays busy with all of their extra-curricular activities and school functions. Potts is native to Northeast OK and graduated from Hulbert High School. In her free time she enjoys spending time with loved ones, watching movies and being outdoors. Potts next goal is to pursue a Master’s degree in nursing.

VP Gets Personal Look at Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center
Phyllis Smith, Vice President of Human Resources

Phyllis Smith, Vice President of Human Resources

NHS Staff Gives Smith Same Care, Dedication as All Cancer Patients

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – It’s a simple computer-generated certificate, like you one you would get for perfect attendance or baking muffins for a school event. Taped to the wall as it is, the certificate might as well be just another piece of paper on your typical cluttered office.

That is, until you read the not-so-fine print: “Certificate of Completion of Radiation Therapy. Presented, October 23, 2014 to Phyllis Smith.” It bears five signatures, with one person having scrawled, “You have been awesome.”

To Phyllis Smith, Northeastern Health System’s Vice President of Human Resources and Safety, the certificate might as well be worthy of a gilded frame and hung in the Louvre.

“They were my cheerleaders, my counselors,” Smith says of the Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center’s staff, who guided her through cancer treatment last year.

Smith’s cancer is in remission now, thanks in no small part to the Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center’s quality care and its staff. To them, she was not the HR person who sometimes had to deal with tough issues. To them, she was another patient that deserved every bit of the knowledge and compassion they had to offer – just like everyone else who came through their lobby doors.

“Anytime you receive medical care from people you know, it’s weird. They see you at your worst,” Smith says. “There were days I went in and I didn’t think I could do it anymore … but they were phenomenal. When I see them now, it’s, ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ “

Smith’s life changed in August 2014, when a colonoscopy she had delayed for six years came back with a diagnosis of colon cancer. She immediately began chemo and radiation treatment, the latter requiring five visits a week to NHS’ cancer center for five and a half weeks.

Instead of helping her daughter through her first pregnancy, Smith found herself relying on the assistance of others. But while painful and trying, the experience gave Smith a first-hand look at how NHS’ staff cares for its patients – and a new-found appreciation for the professions around her.

“You don’t go into (the medical) field thinking it’s going to be a happy place,” Smith says. “I don’t know how to explain it, but you’re working with some of the sickest people around, and you see how their lives have been disrupted.

“Every time the (center’s) door opened, (the staff) had smiles on their faces. ‘How are you doing today?’ I saw how the staff treated me, I saw how the staff treated others. When you’re doing chemo, you’re in the same room with other people doing chemo. You don’t know the names, the history, the stories, but you know they’re going through the same treatment you are.”

Smith’s radiation treatments ended in September 2014, but she still had to undergo an additional four months of chemo and several painful surgeries.

“I was blessed. I would come to work and at 7 or 8 and at 2:30, I would walk downstairs (for chemo),” says Smith, who then had a 15-minute window to get home. “I worked through most of the treatments. Some days, you feel like there’s nothing wrong with your body. Other days, you feel like you couldn’t function. Sometimes, I would show up at work and say, ‘Sorry, I can’t do this,’ and turn around and go home.”

Smith lost close to 50 pounds during the ordeal – “It was a horrible way to lose weight, but I’m blessed I had some to lose,” she says – but now that it’s behind her, she can only marvel at the skill and dedication of those who helped her through the worst of times.

“They just kept telling me I was a blessing to them,” Smith says. “They told me I was a real good patient … I didn’t see that. I would go in crying.”

Her treatments ended in May and in July, a checkup could not find a single cancer cell in her body. Smith is back at work full time, but she also has a grandson, Brock, to keep her busy as well.

“I’m blessed, not only to have the cancer center here, but to have been treated by people I know, that I consider my friends.”

NHS Welcomes New Executive
Connie head shot

Connie Obenrader, NHS Assistant Vice President of Operational Nursing.

Northeastern Health System is pleased to introduce Connie Obenrader, MS, RN, NE-BC, to the NHS team as the new Assistant Vice President of Operational Nursing.

Connie’s role will provide support to the Vice President of Patient Care as well as the physicians, nursing leadership and clinical coordinators of our OR/OPS, CCU, ICU and Infusion department.

Obenrader’s responsibilities are to make sure we have the right services in place in each unit for the community and to manage our resources in an effective manner.

“I came to Tahlequah because I wanted to help build the resources to support a small yet growing community,” said Obenrader. “I wanted to be a part of an expanding health system that strives to provide excellent care. We are small in size, but there is no reason why our quality of care can’t be just as good as hospitals in Tulsa, OKC and Fayetteville. We want the citizens of this community to want to come here and receive care and not feel like they have to drive somewhere else to be taken care of.”

Obenrader has experience in a broad spectrum of healthcare roles and environments. She has worked in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), long-term care, physician practices, ER, Labor & Delivery, Pediatrics, Dialysis and served as the Director of Operations in Hospice and Home Health.

“The goal was to always learn as much as I could about healthcare in all of its forms,” said Obenrader. “I felt being experienced in many areas of healthcare would allow me to truly understand what’s possible and be able to lead teams with high expectations.”

Connie is married to her husband John, who is a retired Army Veteran and together they have 6 children. Her husband owns an archery business and he is excited to relocate it to Tahlequah. She is native to Northeast OK and grew up in Chelsea, OK. She is currently working on earning her doctorate in Nursing Practice from Duke University. When Connie is not at work she enjoys shooting her bow, cooking, playing the piano and has big plans to take sailing lessons this summer with her daughter.

NHS’ Dr. Moore Humble, But Casts Large Shadow

ER Physician Shares Care – and Goodwill – Despite “Constant Triage”

Dr. Mary Moore in her preferred work setting.

Dr. Mary Moore in her preferred work setting.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Mary K. Moore is a diminutive woman, but large in spirit. So large, in fact, those who work alongside the emergency department physician at Northeastern Health System Tahlequah would rather they’re not limited to just one Mary K. Moore.

“I wish we could clone her,” says Becky Abshier, Director of Emergency Department at Northeastern Health System. “We’d have four of them.”

While others in the hospital are still eating breakfast, Dr. Moore flits about the ED on a recent Thursday morning, dispensing good nature along with medical expertise. Outside, it’s a peaceful, crisp Oklahoma fall morning. In the ER, it’s anything but.

Her hair pulled back neatly in a bun, Dr. Moore checks on an “elderly gentleman” who passed out at home. She is working with a second patient to manage his blood pressure and heart rate. Finally, she is trying to decide whether a third medical emergency may need a cardiovascular surgeon.

Despite the intensive atmosphere, she has time for a smile and a kind word with those around her, exemplifying the exceptional and quality care provided by the Northeastern Health System’s staff.

“I don’t have the luxury of scheduling patients,” Dr. Moore says. “Sometimes, the ER can be overwhelming. You can’t reschedule anybody … you just know you have to take care of the patients.”

Dr. Moore, 46, began her medical training planning a career in pediatrics. But once she started her rotations, she found herself leaning to the emergency medicine and its constant flow of patients.

“I like the ability to see patients, evaluate them and get results back in a timely manner,” she says. “The ED is almost continuous triage. When we’re back here, you know who’s the sickest and who has to be taken care of first, and you take it from there.”

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Dr. Moore grew up in Tahlequah and in Sallisaw. She has been on staff since 2009, after first completing her payback to Indian Health Services following graduation from Oklahoma State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tulsa.

Dr. Moore is so good at what she does she found herself featured last year in the New York Times’ health and wellness blog, Well. The case concerned a 19-year-old man who collapsed at work several years ago after months of increased weakness and vomiting. The young man’s previous visits to Northeastern Health System’s ER resulted in diagnoses of dehydration – until Dr. Moore treated him.

As the Times put it, “an E.R. doctor in (the) small-town Oklahoma hospital (put) it all together.”

Dr. Moore couldn’t believe her patient was 19. He was a little over 5 feet tall and weighed about 90 pounds. She checked records of his previous visits, ran some lab tests and did some reading.

Her diagnosis? Addison’s disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the adrenal glands “as if they were foreign invaders.” Dr. Moore started treatments immediately before eventually sending the patient to Tulsa for a specialist’s care.

Today, the young man has said he has gained 25 pounds and joined a local volunteer fire department.

The ever-humble Dr. Moore doesn’t mention the national publicity. Those that work alongside her know Dr. Moore’s was only concerned about providing not only a diagnosis, but an answer to the mystery behind the patient’s symptoms.

Northeastern Health System continues to add staff (almost 200) and specialists – urology, nephrology, cardiovascular, sports medicine – which may prevent Dr. Moore from sending other patients to Tulsa in the future.

“If we can keep more patients local, it’s not a burden for their families or their caregivers,” she says.

And just to be sure no one feels the burden, Dr. Moore is there. Even if she’s just one.

NHS Promotes Executive to New Position
Amy Williams, Vice President of System Clinical Operations

Amy Williams, Vice President of System Clinical Operations

Northeastern Health System is pleased to announce that Amy Williams, MSN, RN-CENP, has been promoted from Assistant Vice President of Clinical Operations to Vice President of System Clinical Operations.

Amy’s role will provide support for the health systems joint venture accounts going beyond the acute care facility. She will be focusing on joint ventures such as the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center and Cherokee Health Partners.

“I am excited to take on this new role to help further assist the development and expansion of our new and existing service lines,” said Williams. “This will allow us to serve a growing and more diverse population.”

Williams has over 20 years of nursing experience. She has gained knowledge working in different clinical settings such as cardiac catheterization lab, ambulatory surgery center, emergency room, cardiology center and internal medicine clinic. She also served as the Department Director of CCU and CVICU. Williams earned her Master of Science and Nursing from Oklahoma University in 2014 and was certified in Executive Nursing Practice in 2015.

“I have a family background in healthcare,” said Williams. “My mom is a nurse, too, so that influenced my career path and I’m thankful I chose nursing.”

Amy is married to her husband Brian who is a Nurse Practitioner in Tulsa, OK. Together they have two sons. Their eldest son Brett is newly married to wife Shae and they currently reside in Weatherford, OK. Their youngest son Brayden is a freshman at OSU. In Amy’s free time she enjoys spending time with her family, the outdoors, reading and gardening.

 

Heart Disease; Are you at risk?
Guest speaker Dr. Paula Guinnip, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, gives a presentation at the Heart Luncheon and educates the audience about heart disease.

Guest speaker Dr. Paula Guinnip, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, gives a presentation at the Heart Luncheon and educates the audience about heart disease.

Northeastern Health System hosted a Heart Luncheon Thursday Feb. 25 at the Armory in Tahlequah, OK which was sponsored by the Northeastern Oklahoma Heart Center. This event was influenced by the Go Red For Women Campaign and the fight against cardiovascular disease. The goal was to provide free education to the community about heart disease and prevention.

Served at the luncheon, was a four course meal designed by the NHS Culinary & Nutrition department. It was a heart healthy meal with a southwestern twist. They provided a salad, soup, main entrée and dessert keeping everyone satisfied during the presentation.

“The goal was to prepare a meal that was healthy without sacrificing flavor, said Lois Fladie, Registered Dietitian & Director of Culinary & Nutrition.  “This can only be done by using fresh foods and preparing from scratch.  Most participants didn’t miss the salt and fat for only 700 calories.”

The luncheon’s speaker was special guest, Dr. Paula Guinnip, Cardiovascular Surgeon. Guinnip provided a thorough presentation about the history of the Go Red For Women Campaign and shared some alarming statistics about heart disease in American women. She explained that the first step to fighting heart disease is educating the female population at an early age so they know the risks, signs, and the ways to prevent this silent killer.

“Cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year,” said Guinnip. “This means that nearly one woman is killed every 80 seconds from heart disease.”

Many women do not realize the risk factors of this disease. Here are the risk factors that you cannot control:

  • History of heart disease in your family
  • If you are 55 years of age or older
  • History of preeclampsia during any of your pregnancies
  • Diabetes

Here are the risk factors for heart disease that you can control.

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Your body weight
  • Your physical activity
  • Your alcohol intake
  • Birth control
  • Diet

Making lifestyle choices such as eating healthy, exercising, not smoking and keeping a normal weight for your body type can significantly lower your risk for heart disease by 82 percent! Taking these simple steps can take you on a road to a heart healthy lifestyle.

It is crucial to know the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. These symptoms differ from person to person so being aware of these and signs and knowing when to call for medical assistance can save your life. The symptoms are:

  • Chest pain (discomfort, pressure or squeezing)
  • Upper body pain (arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw or upper stomach)
  • Experience shortness of breath
  • Breaking out into a cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Light headedness

Keeping your healthcare provider informed about all of your questions and concerns regarding your heart health can improve your quality of life as well. It is important to ask your doctor detailed questions and to let them know if you have any changes in the behavior of your heart and your over-all health. So many women are at risk of heart disease and are not aware of it so by talking to your doctor and choosing to make heart healthy choices can prevent you from being the 1 in 3.

NHS Promotes Responsible Medication Management

pillsHave you ever taken an Advil or Tylenol when a headache arose or other forms of pain were present? Are you that person that takes a pain pill every time you feel acute pain, no matter what the cause is? It is important to know the side effects and potential dangers associated with all medications. These medications are called pain relievers because they simply relieve your pain, they do not cure an illness so knowing the difference is crucial. Therefore, if you continue to mask your symptoms with pain medication, the underlying problem can become serious.

Today, narcotics are medications prescribed by a physician to help relieve severe pain. While these medications are highly effective and highly addictive, they are intended for short term relief and not for chronic pain. Their long term use results in side effects that demonstrate these narcotics can do more harm than good.

These side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, headache and constipation. Another side effect from long term consumption of narcotics is kidney damage which can be fatal. The side effects from narcotics alone can be quite damaging to the body which is why it is important to take the medication as directed and monitor your body’s reaction.

The state of Oklahoma now regulates the amount of narcotics physicians can prescribe to help combat addiction. They are required to look up your personal prescriptive history, including the dosage and frequency, to monitor the signs of abuse. This helps keep the physician as well as the patient accountable.

“Many patients become addicted to prescription pain relievers, so much that the federal and state governments are using the word ‘epidemic’,” said Jim Berry, Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator. “NHS and its physicians believe that we shouldn’t do anything that harms patients. This includes contributing to their addiction.”

It is important to always keep your primary healthcare provider in the know for the good of your overall health.

NHS Launches News Service

Sharing the Stories of Our Staff, Patients, and Community

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Northeastern Health System launches a news service with stories about healthy living, feature stories on staff members, and highlighting important community events.

The stories will be distributed on the hospital’s website, although the organization plans on leveraging and growing its social media presence to engage employees, patients, and members of the community as a virtual town square where everyone has the opportunity to engage in the things that are important to them, said Erielle Stout, Director of Patient and Public Relations.

“Every day I’m out on Facebook or Twitter and I see stories about doctors or nurses doing something amazing but I know firsthand that so many of our doctors and nurses have done that much or more,” she said. “I don’t think that many people realize the tremendous resources that are available here and this is our chance to share that.”

Stout also noted that many of the healthy living stories she sees are written by and for people in large cities or in areas different than Tahlequah.

“When we give advice about healthy living, it will be from our on-staff experts who live and work in Cherokee County and understand our community. This is about neighbors sharing information and interesting stories, which is what our community is all about,” Stout said.

The stories will be more than just the biographies of the staff. They will delve into the person’s interests and hobbies, because staff at NHS are interesting people who have so much to share. And, as NHS shares them on social media, they can be shared hundreds of times much more effectively than other communications channels.

“This allows everyone to read the stories when it’s convenient to them. Whether you’re online for hours a day or even every couple of days, the stories will be there when it’s convenient to them,” said Stout.

Brian Woodliff, CEO of Northeastern Health Systems, said this new initiative is widely used outside the health care industry.

“As we researched this initiative, what we found is that nearly all of the Fortune 100 companies have initiatives like this because it is highly effective and customers find it valuable,” he said. “This is just one example of NHS’s initiative to find effective tools and processes that are used outside the health care industry to be more accessible to our customers and community, as well as improve overall service at NHS. This is the first of many to come.”

Stout also noted that this news service would be able to provide timely information in the event of major events, such as weather.

Follow NHS on Facebook and Twitter to see the latest stories as they’re posted.

NHS Raises Awareness about Alzheimer’s disease

More than three million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) every year which accounts for 60-70% of dementia cases. Dementia is a term that means memory loss and/or issues with the brain’s thought process. At Northeastern Health System, we believe our mission includes education and awareness about disease and the disease processes.

The most common sign of early stages of AD is difficulty remembering recent events. Other signs and symptoms are:

  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words or spoken or written
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdraw from work or social activities and changes in mood or personality

There are tests and tools that can help diagnose the causes of AD such as: researching medical history, physical and diagnostic testing, genetic testing, neurological testing, mental status testing and brain imaging.

“AD is a terrible disease that ravages our aging society,” said Kay Johnson, Solutions Supervisor. “There is a stigma that prevents an approach to early prevention so we need to be proactive. Although there is no cure this does not mean that there is no treatment.”

Research shows that you can lower your risk of being diagnosed with AD by continual stimulation of your brain by learning new things as you age. Engaging in group activities is essential. Taking classes, learning a new language, solving a puzzle or playing a musical instrument to name a few, are all great ways to ensure brain stimulation.

Research indicates that pharmaceutical drugs and consumption of vitamin E which has antioxidant properties that have been known to help protect brain cells. There is no cure for AD at this time, but early diagnoses and treatment are the best ways to stay on top of this disease.

NHS Supports National Wear Red Day and the Go Red for Women Campaign

Wear Red DayThe American Heart Association decided to take action and declare February National Heart Month due to heart disease claiming the lives of thousands of American women every year.   The theme is geared towards raising awareness by educating the female population on the tell-tale signs of heart disease and also helps women learn how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

“Heart disease knows no boundaries,” said Dr. Guinnip, M.D. Cardiothoracic Surgeon. “More than a decade ago, the AHA discovered that heart disease killed more women than men. This is why it is crucial for the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center to keep our community informed about the advancements.”

Our goal here at Northeastern Health System is to bring our staff as well as our community together to become advocates for women and the fight against heart disease. NHS will participate in the 2016 National Wear Red Day Friday, February 5 and we want to invite and encourage you to sport your favorite red clothing item in the name of the Go Red for Women Campaign.

“By wearing red, we can help raise awareness of cardiovascular disease,” said Amy Williams, Vice President of System Clinical Operations. “It is never too early to take initiative and protect your health. This month, help us fight this epidemic and continue to create a healthier community.”

If you have not already, please remember to like our Facebook page, Northeastern Health System, to keep up with the latest NHS news and events. You can also follow our Twitter account, @NHSTahlequah to view our health tweets and participate in our 2016 Marketing & Media campaign.

Tahlequah Hospital Foundation Hosts 11th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala
Adley Stump, entertainer, sings the National Anthem

Adley Stump, entertainer, sings the National Anthem

The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation hosted their 11th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala Saturday, January 16th. The event brought together over 600 supporters, sponsors and staff to celebrate the efforts of the 900 employees who make Northeastern Health System a health system to be proud of. Olivia Jordan, Miss USA 2015-2016, emceed the event while special guests Joette Berry, Adley Stump, Grady Nichols and Emerald City Band provided “Grammy Awards” like entertainment.

The evening is centered on an award ceremony recognizing six outstanding individuals that truly exemplify what it means to be committed to health care and to this community. Their work and dedication to the people they serve has left a lasting influence on Tahlequah and showcases the best of NHS.  Beth Herrington received the Dr. Mary Culver-Carlile Lifetime Achievement award for her contribution to the community and her profession. The Thompson Award was given to Gary Harrington and Mike Watkins for the important roles they played in the development of Tahlequah’s healthcare advancement. The Heart of Gold award was given to Christine Wofford for her outstanding dedication to the Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary department. The McIntosh, Masters and Medearis award was given to Dr. Tom and Dr. Donna Schneider for their exceptional clinical excellence to our community.

Brian Woodliff, President and CEO of NHS, shared the 2015 milestones with the crowd. The hospital’s system operating margin was the highest in their history, establishing the institution as a $240 million dollar non-profit organization. Because of this stability, NHS has the capabilities of investing in resources and care for the primary health burdens of the community that most rural communities go without such as: heart disease, cancer and kidney disease. Additionally, Woodliff announced new full-time services established to address common health issues in gastroenterology, critical care and pulmonology. Lastly, he thanked the crowd for their continued support that has made a difference in the lives of patients, especially those who are unable to help themselves. In 2015, NHS provided over $20 million in uncompensated care to those who may have otherwise gone without. In conclusion, Woodliff thanked the crowd for their continued support allowing the Foundation to provide over $198,000 in 2015 in aid to those pursuing a career in healthcare.

“Talent comes at a cost,” stated Brian Woodliff, President and CEO of NHS. “The Gala attendees support ensures that we remain competitive, attracting the healthcare professionals needed to provide the latest and most advanced care for our patients.”

The Foundation is already planning the 2017 Hearts of Gold Gala to continue to celebrate and support the innovations that NHS will achieve in 2016.

NHS Hosts Community Collaborative Meeting
Julie Potts, Director of Performance Improvement leads Community Collaborative meeting

Julie Potts, Director of Performance Improvement leads Community Collaborative meeting

The Northeastern Health System Community Collaborative Coalition was established in 2012 with the goal of uniting the hospital and local healthcare agencies quarterly to discuss patient needs. The group includes a transdisciplinary team of doctors, nursing, hospital administrators and discharge planners as well as representatives from local hospice agencies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and durable medical equipment companies. The group gathers to communicate new healthcare innovations, service lines, providers and regulatory changes.

“NHS aims to eliminate the communication gap in patient care,” said Donna Dallis, Vice President of Patient Care. “It is not about the individual organization, it is about the quality of care provided to our patients and families.”

The group’s topics included conversations regarding changes within healthcare and how they resolve to work together on the barriers to smooth transitions between providers.

“I am thrilled about the statistics that were reported at this month’s meeting,” said Caleb Turner, attendee. “It is motivating to know that the efforts from each individual entity represented the staff are paying off.”

An additional aspect of the coalition is to identify and discuss current hospital readmissions. A readmission is considered an inpatient admission within 30-days of previous hospital inpatient discharge. The goal of the group is to research and understand what causes the readmission to occur and to assist patients with community resources that will help them to remain independent after hospitalization.

“Our readmission numbers have dropped 6 percent in the last 3 years,” said Julie Potts, Director of Performance Improvement. “This is a commendable testimony to the work this group has been doing.”

NHS aspires to be the regional healthcare provider of choice. This coalition is one additional avenue on the road to success.

For more information regarding Community Collaborative call Julie Potts, Performance Improvement Director at 918 – 453 – 2360.

NHS Executive Team Meets with Senator James Lankford
Jerry Cook Director of Community, Government, and University Relations, Julie Ward Vice President of Finance, Jim Berry Hospital Administrator & Executive Vice President of NHS, James Lankford OK Senator, Brian Woodliff President & CEO of NHS, Phyllis Smith Vice President of Human Resources, Donna Dallis Vice President of Patient Care, Mark McCroskey Vice President of Operations.

Jerry Cook Director of Community, Government, and University Relations, Julie Ward Vice President of Finance, Jim Berry Hospital Administrator & Executive Vice President of NHS, James Lankford OK Senator, Brian Woodliff President & CEO of NHS, Phyllis Smith Vice President of Human Resources, Donna Dallis Vice President of Patient Care, Mark McCroskey Vice President of Operations.

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford met with Northeastern Health System’s executive team to discuss an overview of the current state of rural health in OK since the law passing of Obamacare in 2010. While there is a well-known concern for healthcare spending it cannot be paid for by small and rural hospitals in the communities they care for.

Administration discussed potential cuts within the 340b Pharmacy Program which is a program that reduces drug costs to qualified health care organizations or covered entities. These pharmaceutical savings are passed on to patients.

The team spent considerable time discussing future reimbursement models as the government moves healthcare from fee for service to population/preventative reimbursement. Population/preventative reimbursement would provide a single annual fee per patient and all of the payment for service would come from that annual fee. It is called capitation because there is a cap on payment. This plan has the potential to hinder both healthier patients as well as the ill. A patient whom rarely receives care if any at all is still paying the full amount to be insured whereas the ill person such as a cancer patient has reached the cap amount of insurance and will not be fully covered for further treatment and future visits.

“Senator Lankford was keenly aware of most of the issues discussed,” said Jim Berry, NHS Administrator and Executive Vice President. “It is refreshing to have our US senator so conscious of this plight.”

A lack of funding to cover the costs for both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health was brought to Senator Lankford’s attention. A negative stigma still exists today when it comes to mental health. Many do not realize that mental health is linked to the effects of other physical illnesses.

For questions or concerns contact Jeff Underwood, northeast Oklahoma Field Representative at jeff_underwood@lankford.senate.gov

Foundation to Host 11th Annual Gala

Gala 15The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation is proud to be hosting the Eleventh Annual Hearts of Gold Gala. It is a time to celebrate, socialize and recognize awardees, but primarily a time to raise money to support the mission of Northeastern Health System. The funds provide educational scholarships for employees pursuing healthcare careers, help offset the cost of capital purchases and keep NHS equipped with the latest cutting edge technology. Sponsored by the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center, the gala will showcase the hospital’s growth over the last year as well as honor several individuals who have made a significant impact on the Tahlequah community.

“We are grateful to all of those who make the evening possible,” said Gary Chapman, the Chairman of the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation. “It is a very special evening and it is humbling to see such a grand show of support from our foundation members, donors and members of the community whose generosity will help us enhance and sustain our hospital for generations to come.”

The four awards given at the ceremony are the Heart of Gold Award, the McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award, the Thompson Award and the Mary Carlile Lifetime Achievement Award. The Heart of Gold award is given to recognize an outstanding individual who volunteers their time for the NHS Auxiliary department. The McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award is given to physicians who demonstrate exceptional clinical excellence for our community. The Thompson Award is given to an individual who has played an important role in the development of Tahlequah’s healthcare advancement. The Mary Carlile Lifetime Achievement Award is given from time to time to an individual who has contributed a lifetime of commitment to our community and their profession.

“The dedication, commitment and generosity of these that attend have been and will be the driving force behind the Foundation,” said Brain Woodliff, President and CEO of Northeastern Health System. “This tremendous amount of their support enables our NHS team to provide the highest quality of care every single day.”

For ticket purchases contact Erielle Stout at 918-453-2105 or estout@nhs-ok.org.

NHS Volunteer Wins State Award

Anne CottrillThe Hospital Volunteers of Oklahoma recently recognized 15 volunteers from across the state as 2015 Volunteers with Spirit. The awards were presented during the Hospital Volunteer Day Luncheon at the Oklahoma Hospital Association Annual Convention on Nov. 4th.

The award was given to hospital volunteers who exemplify the spirit of service and have a passion for the work they do for their organizations. Volunteers with Spirit winners have been recognized for their inspirational attitude and efforts to their local hospital auxiliaries. Each volunteer auxiliary at Oklahoma hospitals was given the opportunity to choose one person for the award.

Northeastern Health System Volunteer with Spirit was Anne Cottrill. As the Auxiliary President, Cottrill spends countless hours overseeing operations, managing the volunteers and supporting the community. She leads her team with wisdom and humor. She is an irreplaceable member of the Auxiliary Board.

“The Auxiliary and its devoted members allow NHS to fulfill our mission of providing unsurpassed excellence in healthcare each day,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Anne’s passion for others is evident by the way she leads the Auxiliary. I am thankful for Volunteers like Anne that give countless hours of their time to ensure the success of NHS.”

NHS Names Physicians to Anesthesiology Staff

NHS Names Physicians to Anesthesiology Staff

Northeastern Health System has announced the addition of Dr. Clorinda Robles and Dr. Mark Haltherman to its active medical staff.

This husband-and-wife team will be providing anesthesia services and call coverage, including cardiovascular cases.

Together, they bring over 25 years of experience in anesthesia to NHS.

Robles graduated with a bachelor’s of science, chemistry and biology from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida and earned her Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Miami. She completed her residency in anesthesiology at Boston University Medical Center and a fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Robles is originally from Nicaragua and is fluent in Spanish.

Halterman graduated with a bachelor’s in biology from Oral Roberts University and earned his master’s in anatomy from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Oklahoma College Medicine. Halterman completed an internship in the Department of Surgery at Georgetown University and did his residency in anesthesia at Boston University Medical Center.

“These anesthesiologists are the epitome of what we look for when recruiting physicians,” said Dr. Adele King, Chief of Anesthesia. “Their passion to render superior quality anesthesia care is extraordinary.”

Halterman enjoys golfing, playing tennis, snow skiing, traveling and listening to music.

Robles enjoys ballroom dancing, traveling, studying foreign languages and gourmet cooking. The couple also enjoys spending time with their two children, Alexander and Gabrielle.

Robles enjoys ballroom dancing, traveling, studying foreign languages and gourmet cooking. The couple also enjoys spending time with their two children, Alexander and Gabrielle.

Dr. Champlain Celebrates 20 Years of Medical Practice

NHS14-1401Recently, Dr. Wallace Champlain celebrated his 20 year anniversary of medical practice in Tahlequah. Dr. Champlain began his career in Tahlequah by delivering his daughter, Kalie, 20 years ago. He has continued to welcome newborns into the world ever since.

Dr. Champlain’s interest in medicine began as a student at Stilwell High School. He went on to graduate from Northeastern State University and then received his Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine from Oklahoma State University in 1979. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Detroit Osteopathic Hospital and the Bi-County Community Hospital. After working in family practices, he began his specialty in OB/GYN in Grand Prairie and Arlington, Texas. He later moved to Tahlequah and says he considers Tahlequah his home.

He is passionate about what he does and realizes the importance of his work to patients. He treats each patient with the same compassion that he would give a member of his family. Dr. Champlain enjoys spending time with his family; his wife of 27 years, Marge, and their five children and eight grandchildren. Dr. Champlain’s love for medicine has continued on with three of his daughters, Tyler and Tamarkia, who are fulfilling roles as Registered Nurses and Kalie who is currently a medical student at the University of Oklahoma.

“As a society, we need to do everything in our power to ensure women are in charge of their own lives and pursuit of happiness,” said Champlain. “I enjoy making a difference in people’s lives.”

Northeastern Health System’s Administration team agrees that Dr. Champlain’s desire to make a difference does not go unnoticed by his co-workers and patients. His lasting influence on the community was recognized last year at the Hearts of Gold Gala.

“In 2014 Dr. Champlain was honored by The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation Board with the McIntosh, Masters and Medearis Award for his outstanding commitment to the Tahlequah community,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Northeastern Health System feels privileged to have physicians like Dr. Wallace Champlain on their medical team.”

Dr. Champlain plans to continue his practice in Tahlequah and hopes to someday travel to different parts of the world.

NHS participates in My Tahlequah

My Tahlequah FBNortheastern Health System is a business centered on wellness with patient’s health being their number one priority. Stretching beyond the practice of medicine, NHS is also committed to the betterment of the community that so many of their employees call home. The leadership team continually encourages their staff to take part in helping the community outside the hospital setting.

Saturday, October 24 seventy-five NHS employees teamed up to lend a helping hand in the My Tahlequah event. NHS was tasked with the clean-up of the Town Branch Creek starting at Downing Street Bridge and ending at Smith Street. Roughly, 20 trash bags were filled including various metals, mattresses, syringes and other debris. After close to 6 hours of labor the beautification of the creek was a success.

“If there was one thing the 75 Northeastern Health System team members learned from the My Tahlequah Event, it was not to take the beauty of the community for granted,” stated Jim Berry, Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator.

Working together to improve the condition of the city, the participants also strengthened the relationships among their fellow coworkers. NHS looks forward to supporting events, like My Tahlequah, that are geared toward the betterment of the community.

NHS Celebrates National EMS Week

IMG_7599There’s nothing quite as alarming as the blaring siren of an ambulance or fire truck fast approaching. Whether you’re in your car or safely in your home, knowing that someone, somewhere, may be in a life-threatening situation automatically increases our level of alertness.

Simultaneously, that siren is also reassuring; we are relieved to know that the “right” people are rushing to whoever is in distress. We count on the professionals in the ambulances, fire trucks and medevac helicopters to get to the scene quickly and to know what to do in a thousand different scenarios — and, thankfully, they do.

In 1973, President Gerald Ford authorized a week to be set aside in May as a way to celebrate Emergency Medical Services (EMS), its practitioners and the important work they do while responding to medical emergencies. This past week, May 17th through the 23rd, was celebrated nationwide as Emergency Medical Services Week. Northeastern Health System (NHS) celebrated the week with their EMS staff on Tuesday at a ‘hog fry’ luncheon. David Carroll prepared the pig for his staff, EagleMed contributed the sides and the Executive Team of NHS brought the desserts.

David Carroll, EMS Director at NHS, talked about why the week is important to participate in each year for his staff. “It’s very appropriate that we set aside a week every year to recognize the dedicated EMS staff who are the front line responders to accidents, emergencies and disasters in our community. These individuals stand ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

“Among the things we often take for granted in regard to our health is those who respond to emergencies,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Our EMS staff is a key component of the medical care continuum we provide at NHS. Providing a luncheon to show appreciation and gratitude for the life-saving care they provide to our patients is the least we can do.”

Residency Program Receives Additional 5 Year Accreditation

Pneumonia CareAn excellent curriculum, superb faculty, and the perfect balance of autonomy and supervision are the keys to an outstanding residency education program. Northeastern Health System’s (NHS) graduate medical students, called residents, benefit from the cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic and religious diversity from the community of Tahlequah. As a full service community hospital, NHS provides a comprehensive residency program for future family medicine and internal medicine physicians instilling confidence and skills to provide exceptional care in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Rural areas can suffer from significant shortages of primary care physicians. According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), of the 2,050 rural counties, 1,562 (77%) include primary care health professional shortage areas. The Internal Medicine Residency Programs and Family Medicine, a partnership between NHS and the Cherokee Nation, are important tools to both of the hospitals in addressing those physician shortages in Cherokee County. Because physicians often choose to practice in settings similar to their residency experience, NHS and W.W. Hastings alike have had the opportunity to recruit residents during their time at the hospitals to secure them as physicians upon graduation. The program has proven this fact to be true; 3 out of the 4 residents graduating from the residency programs this year have signed contracts with the local hospitals or clinics.

The Internal Medicine Residency Program has completed a mandatory comprehensive survey and received an AOA accreditation for an additional 5 years.

“We have an unopposed program; caring and attentive attending physicians, specialists available for consults; and a patient population with severe, chronic issues, and unique pathology,” said Dr. Elaine Ramos, Internal Medicine Residency Program Director. “These needs are met by placing residents on our hospital’s units. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue not only the program, but the heightened care to our patients for an additional 5 years.”

After reviewing applications and going through interview processes with potential medical students, the Family Medicine Residency Program has invited 4 new graduate medical students to begin the program this summer and the Internal Medicine Residency Program has invited 5 medical students.

“Having resident in Tahlequah stirs the healthcare process at both hospitals. Our primary goal is to ensure the residents are well prepared physicians who receive a first rate educational experience,” stated Dr. Doug Nolan, Family Medicine Residency Director. “Ideally, the physicians trained in this program will choose to practice in Tahlequah.”

“We are very proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our residents,” said Jim Berry, Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator. “We strive for excellence in everything we do at Northeastern Health System Tahlequah. Training great doctors who in turn provide quality care are of the utmost importance to us.”

Hospital Bids Farewell to Turney as a Board Member

123It is with sadness that Northeastern Health System announces the ‘end-of-term’ farewell to Mr. Maurice Turney from the Tahlequah Hospital Authority (THA) Board of Trustees. Not only has he been an essential part of the backbone of the hospital, he has served the hospital selflessly for the past four years. His departure will leave NHS, as well as the community, with a sizeable hole to fill.

Since his induction to the THA Board in 2011, Turney has given the hospital priceless amounts of wisdom and countless hours of service as well as exemplified word Trustee. Brian Woodliff, NHS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President, said “it is due to his character, intellect and his service to the hospital and to the community that he is described in this fashion.”

When asked to name a few projects that he takes pride in during his time on the Board, Turney noted “the ability for the hospital to provide scholarships to its employees and help with student loan payments; the grand opening of the Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center; and most recently, staffing all emergency board certified physicians in the Emergency Room.”

“Maurice Turney is a community servant. For a short time, we were privileged to bear witness to his passion, ‘Tahlequah’,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “His countless contributions, leadership and steadfast commitment to both have made Northeastern Health System stronger and created a lasting legacy that will be difficult to fill,”

Gary Harrington, THA Chairman, found his self extremely fortunate to have Turney on the Board with him with the past four years.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have served with the type of leader Maurice is,” stated Harrington. “He has led transformative change in our local healthcare landscape, with an unwavering focus on NHS delivering the best care to the community. His efforts to ensure THA’s financial strength and to establish close relationships with our community will benefit THA for years to come.”

A farewell reception was held on May 7th at NHS in honor of Mr. Turney’s four years of dedication and service. The reception was well attended by Board members, Foundation members and hospital employees to show their gratitude for his service to the hospital. Brian Woodliff, CEO and President, expressed his gratefulness to Maurice with kind remarks and the presentation of a plaque as a token of appreciation. Mr. Turney’s position will be filled by a city council member in weeks to come.

Changing Lives One Community Member at a Time

Habitat-for-Humanity-Logo-Uwlax_edu_As a basic necessity, shelter is linked directly to good health. According to Habitat for Humanity, there are nearly 2 billion people around the world who live in slum housing and more than 100 million are homeless. Habitat for Humanity’s International vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. To that end, NHS supports the vision of Habitat for Humanity.
“The social need for Habitat for Humanity remains unchallenged,” stated Director of Patient Financial Services (PFS), Darecca Jensen. “Habitat utilizes limited resources and hard volunteer work to build safe and affordable housing to low-income families. Our hospital wants to be a part of the hard work that goes into changing the lives of community member’s one community member at a time.”
The PFS department has taken on the challenge of organizing the NHS team and has been working diligently with Habitat for Humanity since last year on their upcoming May project. The PFS department has created opportunities for all hospital employees to participate, from donating to volunteering time on the job site. For instance, PFS has begun creating baskets that are themed for specific rooms of the home and challenged other department to fill the baskets with objects for those rooms. The Plant Operations and Maintenance team has joined in the efforts by building a custom child bed for the family that will be living in the home.
“With limited free time in a demanding fast paced world, volunteering competes with personal time and goals,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “I am proud of the staff member’s that have challenged themselves to devote some of that free time toward improving our community, and hope it inspires others to do the same.”

NHS Offers Safe Sitter Course

safesitterlogoOur world is a complicated place. Today’s babysitters need to know more than just the basics to keep themselves and the children in their care safe. That’s why Safe Sitter has developed an up-to-date medically based and well-rounded youth development program teaches young teens life safety skills. It also equips them to stay home alone safely and with confidence.

Northeastern Health System is a Registered Safe Sitter® Teaching Site and now offers the comprehensive training program for young teens (11-14). To be a card carrying Safe Sitter, students must pass a rigorous practical and written test that indicates their mastery of key concepts and life safety skills. NHS just recently held its first Safe Sitter Course on April 25th and successfully graduated 14 young teens from the program.

“Injuries are the leading cause of death in children up to age 5. Safe Sitter® aims to reduce the number of avoidable and unintentional deaths among children being cared for by young teens,” stated Safe Sitter Course Instructor, Suzanne Lovell, BSN, RN. “The program follows American Heart Association standards as well as instruction in first aid techniques from the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

The nationally-recognized program was developed by an Indianapolis Pediatrician, Dr. Patricia Keener, after a colleague’s toddler choked to death while in the care of an adult sitter who didn’t know what actions to take. Students who complete the Safe Sitter® program gain confidence and learn how, why, and where common injuries can take place so they can be prevented. They learn how a child’s age affects how to care for them, how to prevent problem behavior, how to run their own babysitting business, as well as issues of online and cellphone safety.

“Safe Sitter improves safety and the welfare of young children by increasing the availability of young adolescents instructed in childcare techniques,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “I believe that this program enhances the lives of young adolescents by providing the opportunity to acquire competencies in rescue skills, basic first aid and nurturing, safe childcare techniques.”

For more information about Northeastern Health System’s Safe Sitter Courses contact Suzanne Lovell at 918-458-2463.

Northeastern Health System-Tahlequah Enhances Patient & Employee Safety

post3Northeastern Health System (NHS)-Tahlequah is improving safety for both patients and EMT workers alike with the installation of Power-LOAD cot fastening system in every ambulance.

Power-LOAD is the first system of its kind in the United States that meets dynamic crash test standards to maximize ambulance occupant safety. Created by the Michigan-based company Stryker, the power loading system will lift the patient cot into the ambulance, with minimal assistance from the EMT.

“The system will improve the dynamics of loading and unloading patients into our ambulances,” stated Emergency Medical Services Director, David Caroll. “The hydraulic lift is capable of lifting patients weighing up to 700lbs with the touch of a button; greatly enhancing the safety of not only our patients, but our EMTs as well.”

NHS-Tahlequah’s highest priority is the health of their patients and hospital staff. This is why the hospital is consistently offering cutting-edge medical services and technology. It is the hospital’s belief that Power-LOAD will allow for the reduction of job-related injuries that EMT crews might experience, as well as enhance the efficiency of the staff to provide unsurpassed excellence in healthcare to their patients.

“We are confident that the Power-LOAD system will decrease strenuous injuries that EMTs can experience while working in their field,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Implementing the Power-LOAD system to all of the hospital’s ambulances is a step in the right direction not only for patient safety, but for employee safety as well.”

By Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

Dr. Mary Carlile to Retire

carlileDr. Mary Carlile, a staple of the Inpatient Rehabilitation team at Northeastern Health System (NHS)-Tahlequah, has announced her retirement effective November 30, 2014.

Dr. Carlile’s resignation caps a remarkable medical career that includes 26 years of dedication and service to Rehabilitation Services; 3 of those years serving the Tahlequah community at NHS-Tahlequah.

Dr. Carlile graduated from the College of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma and completed her residency at Baylor University Medical Center. Her career path started as an associate at the Rehabilitation Consults of Texas and has continued to flourish over the years.

Giving of her time and knowledge to countless professional organizations is something that Dr. Carlile’s biographical sketch accounts for. Belonging to over 23 organizations, 7 of which she holds respected positions; Dr. Carlile believes in giving back to the profession she loves dearly.

You can find numerous awards associated with Dr. Carlile’s name, including: ‘Best Doctors in Dallas,’ ‘Texas Super Doctor’ as well as belonging to the 2007-2009 and 2011-2012 ‘Best Doctors in America’ category. These honors are linked to Dr. Carlile because of her commitment to providing unsurpassed excellence in Rehabilitation Care.

Patients and co-workers alike have an admiration for Dr. Carlile and her passion for healthcare.

“Dr. Carlile goes above her call of duty and strives to make a difference in every patient she sees,” stated Sharon Cox, Director of Inpatient Rehab. “I have learned a great deal from Dr. Carlile during her time here at NHS. She will be greatly missed.”

During her tenure in Tahlequah Dr. Carlile was instrumental in developing rehab services for the Inpatient Rehab Unit at NHS-Tahlequah.

“Dr. Carlile’s quest for excellence has been unparalleled and has shaped our Inpatient Rehab services as we know it,” stated Brian Woodliff, CEO of NHS-Tahlequah. “Passionate providers like Dr. Carlile allow NHS-Tahlequah to be the region’s healthcare provider of choice. She is a fixture at NHS-Tahlequah and her presence will be missed.”

By: Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

American Osteopathic College of Anesthesiologist Honors Dr. Adele King

asdfasdThe field of medicine often acknowledges scientific and technical expertise while overlooking the art of the relationship-centered and compassionate care. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation understands that in order to be a complete doctor, both science and humanism must be fostered. Each year the Gold Foundation honors physicians with awards that seek to elevate those humanistic qualities essential to good doctoring: integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and service.

In recognition of her dedication to compassionate patient care Adele King, D.O. has been honored with the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award. This prestigious award was presented at this year’s annual convention of the American Osteopathic College of Anesthesiologists (AOCA).

Dr. King’s philosophy about medicine is to “treat all people with dignity and respect” and what she enjoys most about practicing medicine is “caring for people in their times of emotional and physical need.”

Dr. King trained at Kansas City Osteopathic Hospital and completed her residency at Kansas City Osteopathic Medical University of Health Sciences. Dr. King has worked in both Kansas City and Oklahoma and is presently the Director of Anesthesia services at NHS-Tahlequah. She has been involved in multiple committees and boards at the local, state and national level as well as traveling the country to lecture extensively on many topics. Since 1990, she has served on the Board of Examiners for the AOCA, served 10 years on the AOCA Board of Governors and in 1997 was installed as their first female president. She has received many distinguished service awards, including recognition from the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association and Drury University. In 2009, NHS had the honor of awarding Dr. King the Masters, McIntosh and Medearis Award at the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation’s Hearts of Gold Gala.

“A talented medical professional that demands the highest quality of care, Dr. King is a well deserving recipient of this prestigious award,” stated Brian Woodliff, President and CEO of Northeastern Health System. “It is a privilege to have someone of Dr. King’s experience and compassion working at our hospital. By carrying out the mission, vision and value of NHS-Tahlequah, Dr. King exemplifies to our patients and employees why we are the regions healthcare provider of choice. “

By: Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

NHS-Tahlequah offers Mammography Special

1 (5)2In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, Northeastern Health System-Tahlequah is offering mammograms for a flat fee of $75. The focus of this annual effort is to educate women, and those who love them, about the important benefits of early breast cancer detection.

Women must be at least 40 years of age and have a signed physicians order to participate in this special. For patient convenience, appointments can be made by calling (918)772-4588 Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Unfortunately, too many women fail to receive their annual mammography screenings,” said Misty Branan, NHS-Tahlequah mammography technician. “In some cases, this can be attributed to a lack of education. There are still some people who do not understand the importance of mammography in early breast cancer detection. Other women avoid the annual tests because they are afraid; scared that the test itself will hurt or afraid of receiving possible bad news.”

The messages for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month are important:

  • Early detection saves lives.
  • Mammography screening is the single most effective method of early detection.
  • An annual mammogram is recommended for all women over 40 years of age.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally feel and should report any changes to their health care provider.
  • Breast self-examinations (monthly from age 20) and clinical examinations (at least every three years from age 20 to 35, and annually from age 40 and up) should be a part of regular breast health screenings.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women,” said Todd Shafer, Director of Radiology. “Finding a tumor at its earliest stages and getting appropriate treatment not only provides the best chance of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis, but also provides the broadest range of effective treatment options.”

In addition to the inherited higher risk from a “breast cancer” gene, a number of other risk factors have been identified. These risk factors may be a good point of discussion for women to outline a breast cancer screening plan with their health provider, but a lack of risk factors does not mean that women will not develop breast cancer. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer have none of these risk factors, so it’s still important to receive regular breast cancer screenings.

Estrogen-Related Risk Factors:

  • Having an early first period (before the age of 12)
  • Having a late first pregnancy (after age 25 or 35)
  • Having no children
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Use of oral contraceptives has not been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.

Risk Factors Your Can Change:

  • High fat intakes – eat leaner meats and limit intake of saturated or hydrogenated fats.
  • Low fiber intake – increase consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake – eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • High alcohol intakes – abstain from drinking or drink in moderation (less than two drinks per day).
  • Sedentary lifestyle – stay active, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most, if not all, days; maintain a healthy weight.
  • Smoking – enroll in a smoking cessation program or research over-the-counter aids to quit on your own.

By Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

Biggest Loser Competition Winners Announced

Congratulations to Nicole Little (left) for winning the NHS 2016/2017 Biggest Loser competition. Hollie Carrol (not pictured) placed second, and Brandi Blossom (center) placed thrid. More than 50 employees participated in the weight loss challenge, losing more than 250 lbs as a group. Awards were presented by NHS Executive VP and Hospital Administrator Jim Berry (right).

Celebrating our HR Office

The week of March 12 – 18, 2017, has been designated to recognize human resources professionals in health care organizations across
the nation for their important role across the continuum of care. We love our hard-working HR staff! Thanks for all you do ladies!

Q&A with NHS Dietitian Lois Fladie

Happy National Dietitian Nutrition Day to our very own Lois Fladie! National Dietitian Nutrition Day was created in 2008 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association), to raise awareness of the indispensable role that registered dietitian nutritionists play in helping people enjoy a healthy life. Check out our Q&A with Lois:

How long have you worked for Northeastern Health System?

I have worked here for 20 years. I am currently the Director of Dietary here at the hospital.

What type of education is required for this profession?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, followed by an internship. I also successfully completed the national exam which is required to be licensed and registered.

Why did you decide to become a dietitian?

I found when my children were little that their health improved greatly depending on the foods they ate. They had continuous ear infections which stopped when I cut out the sugar and added fermented foods like unsweetened yogurt. Fresh fruits took the place of sugar and candy.

 What does a dietitian in a hospital actually do?

As a Clinical Dietitian/Nutritionist, there are management responsibilities, clinical nutrition, patient education and public education.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dietetics and Nutrition is a wide open profession in that there are many areas to work. Specialties include renal, oncology, pediatric, sports, school food services, long-term care, management and critical care to name just a few. This is a profession that helps people live a better life.

Tahlequah’s EagleMed Transitions to First Flight

The former EagleMed air medical transport base in Tahlequah has been renamed First Flight and is now being operated by national air medical transport leader Med-Trans Corporation.

“Although we have a new name, the same amazing medical and flight crews, based in Tahlequah, remain on the job and are committed to providing the very best in patient care,” said Patrick Barkley, Med-Trans program manager in Tahlequah. “This base is staffed with dedicated crew members that care deeply about their patients and take great pride in representing Tahlequah and Cherokee County.”

Med-Trans service in the area stems from a joint venture to serve Northeastern Health System and the Cherokee Nation. The base is staffed by flight crews including pilots and a mechanic, along with a nursing staff and paramedic staff, both backed by physician oversight.

Med-Trans bases a medically equipped Bel 407GXP helicopter at Northeastern Health System that serves the citizens of north, mid and southeast Oklahoma, as well as north and mid-south Arkansas. All EagleMed memberships that are currently active will be honored by Med-Trans.

Med-Trans is a leading national air medical provider focused on establishing partnerships with hospital systems, medical centers and EMS agencies through nearly 90 bases across 23 states. Med-Trans offers customized air ambulance programs through alternative delivery/shared resource models, community based models and traditional hospital-based models. Its patient fleet numbers approximately 100 aircraft comprised predominantly of light single and twin-engine helicopters and twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft.

NHS Security Guard Scores 9th in Nation in Fitness Challenge

NHS has long been a champion of employee health, offering healthy meal options and a yearly weight-loss challenge. Employee wellness programs have been proven to reduce health care costs and absenteeism and increase productivity. One NHS employee, Security Guard Joseph Spriggs, has taken health to a new level.

Spriggs, who is part of the NHS wellness team, uploads his fitness device to Myinertia.com, a website that logs activity minutes from participant devices such as Garmin or Fitbit. MyInertia is an online program that is used by people across the nation. Spriggs recently was ranked ninth in the nation.

Spriggs joined the NHS challenge to compete with a couple of co-workers, never expecting to be ranked so high.

“I actually stay active a lot outside of work,” said Spriggs. “I go and play basketball when I get the chance and also try to exercise twice a day, before and after work. I also put in a lot of minutes at work. Working security helps because we are constantly making rounds around all of the hospital floors and property.”

NHS began this fitness challenge with a grant from Ardmore Institute of Health. The NHS teams scored higher than any other group participation in the Fitness Activity Grant, earning NHS an additional $2,400 in grant money to be used for future wellness initiatives.

“To me, if I am able to stay in the top 10 that would be a great accomplishment, because it wasn’t even a goal at first,” said Sprigs. I would like that number on spot though, so that might be a new challenge for me.”

Donations Stay in the Community at NHS Blood Drives

Blood Drive smNortheastern Health System will host a blood drive on Monday, February 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Tuesday, February 28, from noon to 6 p.m. Giving at an NHS sponsored blood drive is different than giving at others drives, as the hospital receives one unit of blood for every five units donated at NHS to help save lives right here in the community.

Make plans now to help your community by donating blood at the NHS blood drive. The drive will be held at the NHS West Conference Room, located directly behind Armstrong Bank on Downing Street in Tahlequah. Walk-ins are welcome, or donors may schedule an appointment by contacting NHS Education Coordinator, Suzanne Lovell at (918) 456-0641. A photo ID is required and donors will receive a free T-shirt. For more information, call Lovell at the number listed or visit the Oklahoma Blood Institute Web site at www.obi.org.

Atkinson Named Director of NHS Outpatient Rehab Center

Rachel Atkinson sm2Rachel Atkinson, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, has recently been named Director of Northeastern Health System’s Outpatient Rehabilitation facility. Atkinson has worked in the outpatient facility for eight years, supervising numerous physical therapy assistants and undergraduate students hoping to follow in her footsteps.

Atkinson will be replacing long-time, and much loved Physical Therapist Lecil Harper, who has decided to take more time off to visit his granddaughter out of state.

“Forty-two years as a physical therapist is long enough,” said Harper. “It’s time for a new generation of therapists to take the clinic to the next level.”

Atkinson received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Wichita State University in 2009, but her love for the profession began as a child.

“When I was younger I had several stints of physical therapy due to injuries I received while playing sports, and I

always enjoyed therapy as a patient,” said Atkinson. “I also have always really been into fitness and became a certified personal trainer in college. Having the athlete and personal trainer background, along with a passion for helping individuals, ultimately led me down the physical therapy path and I am so happy every day that I did. Physical therapy is one of very few health professions that you get to spend a lot of time with your patients while helping them feel better and return to their prior level of function. By the time a patient is ready to be discharged, I always feel like I made a friend. I love that!”

The outpatient rehab department provides physical, occupational and speech therapy, by experienced therapists who are passionate about what they do and will go the extra mile to make sure patients get the most out of therapy.

“NHS should be all patients’ first choice for their healthcare needs,” said Atkinson. “We have some amazing physicians, nurses and staff that really care about you. I have personally been a patient of NHS several times and have always had a positive experience.”

Atkinson credits her patients and co-workers for helping shape her professional, and sometimes personal, life.

“NHS provided an environment that helped me advance as a professional. One of the individuals that I feel has been a mentor to me is Todd Shafer. Todd is an excellent supervisor and sets an example of the type of supervisor I want to be. I feel I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without the support of Todd and many other administrators at NHS. It is nice to really feel like you are part of a team.

“There have also been many patient cases that have impacted my life. From the little boy who took his first steps after his parents were told he would never walk, to the patient who left pain free after having pain for over a year. It’s cases like these that validate that I am exactly where I should be,” said Atkinson.

When not working Atkinson enjoys a wide variety of activities, such as fishing, shopping and watching her favorite sports teams.

“The one thing I love most, though, is cooking, or really anything that involves food,” said Atkinson. “I love making a big meal and having friends and family over to relax and enjoy some time together, or going to a new restaurant and trying something new.”

Atkinson and her husband, Scott, whom she calls her rock and best friend, have been married for two years and have three beautiful daughters.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

NHS Residents Selected for National Conference

Janel and Josh 3NHS Family Residents, Dr. Janel Johnson and Dr. Josh Priddle, were selected to attend the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians National Conference, in Atlanta, Georgia. Attendees were chosen through a stringent application process and only a select group was chosen to attend.

Northeastern Health System partnered with Oklahoma State University in 2008 to begin a Family Medicine Residency Program. By 2011 the program was so successful, NHS was awarded a second residency program, this time in Internal Medicine.

“Overall I thought that the NHS Family medicine residency was and is a great residency program,” said Priddle. “I feel as though I have been taught what I need to know to go out and practice on my own. The program has prepared me to be a rural family medicine physician first and foremost, but has also prepared me to go on and pursue further specialized training. They have also taught me how to be a leader and interact with my peers as their leader while I was one of the chief residents my second year. Overall I would have to state that I have absolutely loved my training in Tahlequah and would not trade it for any other.”

 

 

 

Tahlequah Hospital Foundation to Host 12th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala

The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation will host the Twelfth Annual Hearts of Gold Gala on Feb. 10, 2017 with special guest, jazz musician, Grady Nichols, and everyone’s favorite band, Emerald City. The Gala, a fundraiser to support Northeastern Health System, will raise money to help absorb the cost of caring for the uninsured, provide scholarships to students pursuing a career in healthcare and provide the latest in technology and infrastructure.

GalaSponsored by Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center, the Gala will showcase the hospital’s growth over the last year as well as honor several individuals who have made a significant impact on healthcare in Tahlequah.

“The awards given at the Gala are a great way to recognize the people who have made such great contributions to the community through their professional and volunteer service,” said Susan Chapman Plumb, Foundation Board Member.   “We have so many unsung heroes in this community and it’s a perfect opportunity to recognize them.”

The four awards given are the Heart of Gold Award, recognizing volunteer Charles Duvall for his many hours of service to the Tahlequah City Hospital Auxiliary and the community; the McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award, recognizing Dr. George Cohlmia for demonstrating clinical excellence and his many years of service; the Thompson Award, recognizing Carol Choate for her instrumental role in Tahlequah’s healthcare history; and the Dr. Mary Carlile Award, recognizing Harvey Chaffin for his many years of service to the Tahlequah community and beyond.

“I think the Gala is important for our community,” said JoAnn Bradley, of the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation. “It gives the Foundation an opportunity to help the hospital purchase equipment, land and other needed resources. It also helps the hospital provide scholarships for its employees to obtain nursing and healthcare related degrees.”

For tickets or more information on the Hearts of Gold Gala, call (918) 453-2105.

NHS Delivers Tahlequah’s First Baby of 2017

2017-babyPhoto Caption: Members from Northeastern Health System and the Oklahoma Home Community Extension office in Tahlequah, joined together to celebrate Tahlequah’s first new baby of 2017. Lucy Morningstar Thiel made her arrival at 12:54 on Jan. 2. Pictured are (l to r): Megan Grogan, RN, Dad, Chad Thiel holding Lucy, Mom, Summer Thiel, OHCE members Ann Lamons and Mildred Fain, and NHS OB Director, Teina Trimble.

 

Northeastern Health System is happy to announce Tahlequah’s first baby of 2017! Lucy Morningstar Thiel was born to Chad and Summer Thiel at 12:54 a.m. on January 2, 2017. Lucy weighted 7 lbs. and 3 oz. and was 19 inches long. Lucy will go home to join big brother, Chad, who is almost 2 years old.

Northeastern Health System was joined by members of the Oklahoma Home Community Extension office to celebrate the new birth and to deliver gifts for baby Lucy and her parents.

The maternity center rooms at NHS are designed to welcome families with a more hotel-like feel, including beautiful aesthetics and comfortable furniture. Each room serves as the labor, deliver, recovery and post-partum room, allowing the family to stay together and in one location.

“The nurses at NHS were amazing,” said Summer Theil. “They were professional, courteous and were very confident in what they were doing.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

NHS Resident Lands Prestigious Fellowship

priddleNHS Family Medicine Resident, Joshua Priddle, D.O., was recently accepted to the Sports Medicine Fellowship at Edward Via College in conjunction with Auburn University. Priddle is one of only two people to be selected for this prestigious fellowship.

A fellowship is a period of medical training that a physician may undertake after completing their residency program.

“I decided to become a physician during my third year of college,” said Priddle. “I was taking health science courses and did not really know what I wanted to do. I was active in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries and one of my mentors told me to read a biography on the life of Dr. Bill Wallace, who was a medical missionary to China. His life’s story was something that spoke to me and it became clear that I wanted to practice medicine and do something similar as he did. At that time I began to pursue coursework to get into medical school.”

Priddle, from Duke, Oklahoma, attended medical school at Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, before entering the residency program at NHS.

“Overall I thought that the NHS Family medicine residency was and is a great residency program,” said Priddle. “I feel as though I have been taught what I need to know to go out and practice on my own. The program has prepared me to be a rural family medicine physician first and foremost, but has also prepared me to go on and pursue further specialized training. They have also taught me how to be a leader and interact with my peers as their leader while I was one of the chief residents my second year. Overall I would have to state that I have absolutely loved my training in Tahlequah and would not trade it for any other.”

For three years Priddle practiced medicine under the teaching of NHS Physicians. During this residency he decided to apply for a variety of sports medicine fellowships, eight to be exact.

“I got the opportunity to rotate at two of the programs I applied for, one of which was at Auburn,” said Priddle. “While I rotated there I got to see many of the Auburn University athletes and help take care of them.   I also got to rotate with a few of the other sports medicine physician’s around town. I enjoyed my time there. There were two positions available and I was offered one of them.”

While at Auburn, Priddle will be assisting with D1 sports coverage of the Auburn Tigers, rotating through and gaining additional experience in orthopedics, and sports coverage for an area high school.

Northeastern Health Center has residency programs in both Family Medicine and Internal Medicine. The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

Leatherman Promoted to Assistant VP at NHS

leatherman-priacillasmcPriacilla Leatherman began working for Northeastern Health System, then known as Tahlequah City Hospital, when she was in high school. She worked her way through college and through the hospital’s ranks, and has recently been named Assistant Vice President of Finance and Compliance.

“I am very excited for my new role,” said Leatherman. “I have seen the hospital grow from approximately 250 employees when I first started, to now having close to 900. This is an amazing feat and I am looking forward to being able to even further expand on our current programs. The administrators at NHS have encouraged me in every step of my career and I really appreciate all of the support they have given me over the years.”

Leatherman began as an intern in the HR department. After graduating high school, she was hired to work in Patient Registration. While completing her undergraduate degree in accounting she worked in the hospital’s data processing department, before transferring to the position of Staff Accountant, from there she moved to the position of Medical

“I have basically grown up here,” said Leatherman of NHS. “Everyone at NHS truly cares about what they do. You are not just another patient here, but you are family, friends and neighbors. I feel honored to be a part of this culture.”

Leatherman, married to her husband, John, for 18 years, has two active children, Tyler, 16, and Kayli, 12. Her busy life hasn’t kept her from obtaining her goals, as she became a Certified Healthcare Financial Professional in 2015 and will graduate this week with her MBA.

“I enjoy new challenges,” said Leatherman. “NHS continuously strives to be the best. We are always looking for areas to expand and new service lines to provide, so our patients can receive excellent care close to home. I can’t wait to see what is around the next corner.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

 

 

NHS Awarded Wellness Grant

wellness-grantPhoto Caption: Michelle Sinkler from Full Plate Living, presented a check to Northeastern Health System in recognition of the amazing outcomes seen during NHS’s 8-week wellness challenge. The funds will be used for future wellness programs. Pictured, from left, are: Phyllis Smith, NHS Human Resources Director, James Newman, NHS Nutritionist, and Sinkler.

Forty Northeastern Health System employees participated in a wellness challenge thanks to a Fitness Activity Grant from Ardmore Institute of Health.   The forty employees divided into two teams of 20 to compete for the most activity minutes. The NHS teams scored higher than any other group who was participating in the Fitness Activity Grant, earning NHS an additional $2,400 in grant money to be used for future wellness initiatives.

The eight-week challenge measured participants’ activity for no less than 10 minutes per session. The grant funds were applied to a Garmin or Fitbit for each participant allowing their tracked minutes to be uploaded to a tracking site.

“The participants had fun challenging each other as well as trying to beat the other team,” said event organizer and Director of Human Resources, Phyllis Smith.

Dr. Mary Moore, an NHS Emergency Department physician, was the top participant logging 11,516 activity minutes. Toni Kemp, NHS’s Employee Health Nurse, was second with 9,869 activity minutes.

“My benefits are multiple,” said Laboratory Director, Clint Horn. “I am able to keep moving a lot longer than I could before starting the program. I can take the stairs without getting winded, I’m more alert, can stay at work longer and have more energy to play with my kids. I also got to know several people that have similar goals and developed friendships through walking together and having a similar focus.”

America has a large number of individuals that struggle with obesity. The physical condition plays havoc in the workplace by affecting employer costs and impairing morale and productivity.

“Since participating in the wellness challenge, daily exercise has become a part of my life,” said Kristi Morgan, Director of Social Services. “I now monitor and track my daily activity, setting goals for myself. The wellness challenge has motivated and inspired me to become more active.”

NHS has long been a champion of employee health, offering healthy meal options and a yearly weight-loss challenge against Cherokee Nation Hastings Indian Medical Center. Employee wellness programs have been proven to reduce health care costs and absenteeism and increase productivity.

“We want our staff to be happy and healthy,” said Smith. “Challenges like this one are a great way to boost morale, make new friends and learn healthy habits at the same time.”

NHS Art Sale Benefits Habitat 4 Humanity

5x5-art-saleTwenty-six Northeastern Health System (NHS) employees recent displayed their artistic abilities to benefit Habitat 4 Humanity (H4H). The two organizations partnered to hold a 5×5 Art Sale at NHS and raised more than $1,300 to help build House #24.

The sale included 61 pieces, all 5×5 in dimension, in a variety of mediums.

“One of the greatest benefits from this event is that NHS employees discovered the many artists in our midst.  There are several other NHS employee artists that did not participate this year who, upon seeing the show, indicated they would do something in the future,” said Susan Hamilton, NHS employee and H4H secretary and Chaplain.” “H4H ED, Linda Cheatham, has already received requests from supporters to do this again next year!  It would be wonderful to build on this year’s success and have this become an annual tradition.”

All proceeds from the sale will be used to help build H4H’s “House #24,” which is expected to begin construction next spring.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

NHS Veterans Continue to Serve their Community

veterans-day-ad-2015The hallmark of any good hospital is the care patients receive. While employees at Northeastern Health System (NHS) take patient care seriously, there is a small group within the health system who have dedicated their lives to serving others. In recognition of Veteran’s Day, NHS would like to thank those employees who served this country and continue to serve, every day, in the halls of the hospital.

“I joined the Air Force to further my education, travel and be a part of something bigger,” said Elizabeth O’Connel, sous chef at NHS’s dietary department. O’Connel currently serves in the Air Force Reserves. “Serving in the Air National Guard has benefited me in so many ways. I would say the ability to adapt and overcome, in various situations, is definitely a big one. My service has given me many opportunities to grow as an individual as well as a teammate.”

Like O’Connel, NHS’s Director of Health Information Management, Cindy Payne, joined the military to learn new skills and help others.

Payne enlisted during her senior year of high school in the Army’s Delayed Entry program. Following graduation she was sent to Ft. McClellan in Alabama for basic training.

“I was in one of the largest groups of women who went through basic training under the Women’s Army Corp (WAC). After basic training, all the women’s statuses changed to Regular Army,” said Payne. “It completely changed my life, my work ethic, self-confidence and my view of the world.”

A strong work ethic and service to others can routinely be seen from the many veterans employed at NHS. NHS would like to say thank you to those who served and who are continuing that service to the community.

Paul Bohren, Pharmacist, Navy

Joe Brossier, CVICU, Air Force

Jason Butcher, LPN, Navy

Harold J. Casper, Patient Access, Army

Mike Cathey, Echo, Air Force

Chris Champlin, Biomed, Air Force

Kevin Cobb, EMS, Navy

Forrest “David” Collins, Patient Access, Army

Robert Crawford, EMS, Army

Stan Duckworth, Laboratory

Anthony Eden, EMS, Marines

Cleve Egdmon, EMS, Navy

Morgan Flanagan, CST, Army

Courtney Frits, Laboratory, Army National Guard

Paul Gartlan, CVICU, Air Force

David Gibbs, Laboratory, Navy

Kelli Guy, Administration, Marines

Ashley Harris, Laboratory

Clint Horn, Laboratory, Navy

Joseph Kavanagh, LPN, Army and Navy

Kyle Kuenning, Emergency Department, Air Force

Madison Medlock, Solutions, Marines

Steve Mount, Security, Navy

Elizabeth O’Connell, Dietary, Air Force

Christina Pait, Physical Therapist, Navy

Cynthia Payne, Health Information, Army

Mark Rogers, Physical Therapist, Army

Tiphanie Russell, Patient Access, Marines

Senadoro Salas, Environmental Services, Marines

Josh Schapp, EMS, Army

Ira Earle Simms, Plant Operations

Constance Smith, Urgent Care, Navy

Chris Taylor, Patient Access, Army

Northeastern Health System adds Nephrologist to Medical Staff

tahirNortheastern Health System is pleased to announce a new addition to the medical staff. Imran Tahir, M.D., is now seeing patients in Tahlequah. Tahir specializes in nephrology, or functions of the kidneys.

“During my interview, I was impressed by the southern hospitality and friendly work atmosphere. I felt I am needed here as a physician,” said Tahir. “I also wanted to live in a small town, away from brutal Chicago winters.”

Tahir is board certified in Internal Medicine and board eligible in nephrology. Looking back at his record, he graduated top of his class and was awarded best resident for three consecutive years during his residency training at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Chicago.

Tahir has been an ardent advocate of medicine from the very beginning and it is from here he advanced his interest in nephrology.

He trained at Loyola University in Chicago where he diversified his experience in nephrology working at the VA Hines and Loyola Medical Center, which also happens to be a busy transplant center. He has been mentored by extremely qualified and world-renowned nephrologists.

“Having a nephrologist in Tahlequah is a great thing for so many of our patients,” said CJ Jankas, AVP of Physician Services at NHS. “Having a nephrologist with Dr. Tahir’s credentials and experience is even better. He will certainly compliment the quality services we have at NHS.”

Tahir believes in providing a very comprehensive and, at the same time, a precise treatment plan designed to meet his patient’s needs at an individual level.

He is energetic, loves working both inpatient and outpatient, and develops a specific bond with all his patients. He believes in quality of care and his concept envisages involving a holistic team approach including PCP, sub specialists, nursing staff and social workers to improve patient care standards. This kind of quality of practice sets him apart, not only as a physician, but a wonderful humanitarian as well. Consulting Tahir will provide patients with confidence, a better patient physician relationship and clarity in understanding their options, resulting in an optimum level of functioning and health.

Tahir and his wife, Muneeza Afif, who is a hospitalist, have been married for seven years. They enjoy spending time with their two-year-old daughter, Mahnoor, and their four-month-old son, Nyle.

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

To make an appointment with Tahir, please call (918) 207-1189.

NHS Coders Receive Certification

nhs-coders

Photo Caption: Coders at Northeastern Health System spend countless hours on continuing education to make sure each patient receives the correct bill. Pictured are: (Row 1, L to R) Sasha Landaverde, Cheryl Gray, Marlene Markham, Sheryl Ray; (Row 2) Stacy Fountain, Galina Fisher, Stefanie Ballard, Meagan Anderson. Not pictured: Natasha Mora.

The world of medical coding has become quite demanding, requiring knowledge of thousands of codes and the ability to be accurate. Coders at Northeastern Health System spend countless hours on continuing education to make sure each patient receives the correct bill. This continuing education has resulted in the entire group of coders obtaining certification.

A medical coder is a health Information professional who assigns universally identifiable codes to a patient’s medical diagnoses and procedures. There are thousands of codes and they change frequently, making it a difficult position.

“We pride ourselves in being able to develop and educate qualified coders from within the hospital, as well as the surrounding community, without having to contract out to other areas,” said Cheryl Gray, coding supervisor at NHS. “This means that our patients and providers can feel confident that our accounts are being coded and billed with a high level of accuracy.”

Meagan Anderson recently obtained her CCA making her a Certified Coding Analyst.

“To pass the CCA there was a lot of on-the-job training and knowledge gained from experience,” said Anderson. “The CCA test not only tests your knowledge of coding, but it also tests you on HIPAA guidelines, billing details and how clinical information is stored in a patient’s medical record.”

Having a fully certified coding team allows for more accuracy in the billing process, allowing the hospital to help keep costs down for patients.

Coder Stefanie Ballard recently became a Certified Coding Specialist.

“We receive a lot of encouragement and support from our co-workers and supervisors,” said Ballard. “It also gives our hospital a positive image since everyone in our department has a certification of some kind now.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

For more information on the service offered by Northeastern Health System, visit www.nhs-ok.org.

 

 

Sartan Credits Faith for Overcoming Adversity

pearl-sartan-3

Pearl Sartan had every reason to give up on her faith. Last October, worn down from spending time in the hospital with her ill husband, she went to Northeastern Health System for her first mammogram in many years. While waiting for the results, her husband passed away. Shortly thereafter she received the news she had breast cancer, and her journey of tests, surgeries and treatments began.

According to Sartan, this experience only strengthened her faith, causing her to lean on the Lord.

“They say anything that makes you pray and read the Bible more is good for you, so I guess it was good for me,” Sartan laughed before becoming more somber. “I had just lost my husband, and then I was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t have time to mourn. I had to pick up and go on with what I had to do for myself. My family and friends were there supporting me and helping me.”

Following her mammogram, Sartan underwent more scans and a biopsy. She later had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.

“I did chemo every three weeks. I needed four treatments but could only handle three because they made me really sick,” she remembered. “They did my surgery to remove the breast, and then I started doing radiation treatments. I did 39 of those. It was just that it was so strong that it burnt me and I would have to take two to three days off to let it heal.”

Other changes are common when undergoing cancer treatments. Exhaustion, lack of appetite and taste changes are experienced by many patients, and Sartan was no exception.

“The chemo made me really weak and I couldn’t eat. Nothing tasted good. I could hardly find anything to drink,” she recalled. “It had been four years since I had had coffee and that’s all I could drink. Then I got to where I could drink chocolate milk. That’s what I drank during the last part of my chemo.”

Through it all, Sartan kept her faith in God and trusted him to bring her through.

“It didn’t upset me. I just knew that it was in the Lord’s hands and I trusted him,” said Sartan.

Cancer does not only affect the patient. Family members and close friends create a vital support system, but it can be hard on these loved ones.

“My daughter had to lose a lot of sleep, because there were times that I couldn’t sleep and she had to bring me things because I was so week. My brother, sister-in-law and granddaughter would stay with me to help.”

One year later, Sartan has confronted her battle with cancer and the death of her husband. Her strength, faith and family support have helped.

“There’s nothing that you can’t get through, regardless – cancer, of any kind – if you have the Lord, because there’s nothing impossible with him.”

Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center at Northeastern Health System, offers a full array of cancer treatment options, allowing patients in the rural area to receive quality care. The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.

Trammel’s Missed Mammograms Lead to Mastectomy

trammel-cheryl3

“The best protection is early detection,” a saying the public has heard numerous times surrounding breast cancer awareness. For Cheryl Trammel, this saying took on new meaning after discovering a lump in her breast.

“I had not had a mammogram in eight years. My doctor got me an appointment, the same day, at Northeastern Health System,” said Trammel. “The best advice I can give, is to have yearly mammograms. It could have kept me from having a mastectomy.”

In 2010, Trammel discovered a lump. She visited her doctor who ordered a mammogram, which was followed by an ultra sound and a biopsy.

“When I received the bad news I was sick at my stomach,” remembered Trammel. “My mind started thinking about everything. How bad is it? Am I going to live through this? How bad are the treatments?”

Following her first PET scan, an imaging test allowing healthcare providers to check for diseases in the body, Trammel was told she also had papillary thyroid cancer.

“I had six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation,” she said. “I was able to have my radiation at Northeastern Health System, and they were awesome. I would have my treatments Monday through Friday on my lunch hour, then return to work.”

Despite her double diagnoses, Trammel’s experience was better than she expected.

“I expected to be a lot sicker,” she said. “I was surprised I only felt like I had the flu. I would have treatment on Thursday, go back for a shot on Friday, feel bad Saturday and Sunday, then be back to work on Monday. I was very lucky I didn’t have any negative reactions to the medications they gave me.”

Trammel credits her positive attitude, support from family and friends, and her team of healthcare providers, with her positive outcome.

“Cancer is a very scary disease. There is not a day that goes by when you don’t think about it returning,” she said. “You are at the mercy of your doctors. I was blessed to have an awesome breast doctor, endocrinologist, and radiologist.   It’s also a very expensive disease. Hopefully in the near future they will find a cure.”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community. As a result, NHS is offering $75 mammogram screenings during the month of October, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment for a mammogram and take advantage of the $75 flat fee, please call (918) 772-4588.

NHS Welcomes Two Interventional Cardiologists

C's

Since its conception in 2005, Northeastern Health System’s (NHS) catheterization lab has increased in number of procedures. What began as a service offered only a few days a week has grown to a lab that is continually full. While the volume has increased, NHS’s cath lab remains one of the safest in the area, thanks in part to two new Interventional Cardiologists, Jack Casas, M.D., and Matthew Comstock, D.O.

“Interventional cardiology includes angioplasty and stents, pacemakers, defibrillators, peripheral arterial disease treatment, dialysis graft treatment, and other heart-related procedures,” said Casas. “Having these services here allows our patients and their family members to remain local. Having to travel great distances causes strain on families, employment and overall care.”

The opportunity to offer advanced care to a rural community is also something that attracted Comstock to the area.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to be here and make a difference in this community,” said Comstock. “By growing and expanding the depth of cardiology services available to the community we can improve the access to cardiac care and cardiology based outcomes in the region.”

Casas graduated from the University of California at Davis. He joined NHS because it has developed into a large healthcare system in need of specialty services; an area in which he felt he could make a difference.

“I believe the best thing we can do for patients is establish a good quality of life,” said Casas.

Casas and his wife of 10 years have four children and six grandchildren.

Comstock graduated from Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. The Tahlequah community and its lifestyle, coupled with the ability to work for a growing health system, attracted him to the area.

“There’s a large opportunity for growth in this area of the state and cardiology is largely underserved,” said Comstock. “The staff are hard-working and caring and treat patients the way I try to treat them. Every time I treat a patient, I try and ask myself, ‘If this was my mom or dad, how would I want them to be treated and what would I want the doctor to be willing to do for them?’”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to bring specialized physicians to serve the community.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call (918) 229-1431.

Jana Shumate’s battle with Breast Cancer Changed her Outlook on Life
Jana Shumate was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram at Northeastern Health System. Her battle with breast cancer changed her outlook on life, motivating her to focus on the positive and making her more empathetic to the struggles of those she encounters

Jana Shumate was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram at Northeastern Health System. Her battle with breast cancer changed her outlook on life, motivating her to focus on the positive and making her more empathetic to the struggles of those she encounters

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Jana Shumate’s battle with breast cancer changed her outlook on life, motivating her to focus on the positive and making her more empathetic to the struggles of those she encounters. She was first diagnosed in 2009 after a routine mammogram. What followed would be a period of highs and lows.

“There was an abnormality found during a routine mammogram at Northeastern Health System, so they also did an ultrasound,” remembered Shumate. “All my mammograms are done in the Women’s Center at NHS. The staff is great, especially Misty Branan who has been so caring with me.”

In 2009, the NHS Cancer Center was just being formed, forcing Shumate to make the journey to Tulsa for a specialist and chemotherapy. NHS now offers a full range of cancer treatment, allowing patients to remain close to home.

“A needle biopsy confirmed that it was ductal carcinoma,” said Shumate. “I was shocked, but ready to take action. I felt that there was an enemy in my body and the sooner we could get rid of it the better.”

The following weeks sent Shumate on an emotional roller coaster as she underwent a barrage of tests.

“There would be good news, followed by bad news, followed by decision making,” she said. “It was very all-consuming.”

Shumate underwent a lumpectomy, removal of lymph nodes, 24 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of radiation.

“I was able to have radiation here at the NHS Cancer Center,” said Shumate. “Wylie and Kristen [in the cancer center] are excellent and almost made it fun!”

Often times, healthcare providers are the people patients interact with the most during cancer treatments. It is not uncommon for patients to build a bond with their nurses, doctors and radiology technicians.

“As a patient you go through many emotions and changes – being scared, anxious, mad and sad, not looking like yourself, losing hair, being sick, becoming weak, feeling like you don’t have control of what is happening and the list goes on,” said Shumate. “The staff makes a big difference in every procedure and appointment. I have been very fortunate to have excellent doctors and staff here at NHS and in Tulsa. Some of these people I would see several times a week. You become very dependent upon them as part of your support system.”

Shumate’s faith, her husband, Kevin, and many other family members and friends, were of great comfort and support.

“My faith in God, his plans for me, and the support of my family and friends, was so important to my recovery.

My husband, Kevin, was my constant companion. He went to all my appointments, was another set of eyes and ears, and my biggest encourager. I have been a survivor for almost 8 years,” said Shumate. “Having cancer has motivated me to try and focus on the positive. I realize more now, that you can’t look at someone and tell what struggles they are fighting. So I try to live by this saying, ‘Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle!’”

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community. As a result, NHS is offering $75 mammogram screenings during the month of October, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment for a mammogram and take advantage of the $75 flat fee, please call (918) 772-4588.

NHS Volunteers Save Hospital Thousands in Labor
The volunteer’s at Northeastern Health System were recently thanked for their service through a banquet held in their honor. In 2015, the volunteers donated nearly 14,000 hours, equivilant to nearly $300,000.

The volunteer’s at Northeastern Health System were recently thanked for their service through a banquet held in their honor. In 2015, the volunteers donated nearly 14,000 hours, equivilant to nearly $300,000.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tahlequah City Hospital Auxiliary volunteers contributed nearly $300,000 in labor through their work at the hospital and Remarkables Thrift Store. The 2015 report released by the hospital shows the 56 Auxiliary members worked 13,855 hours.

“The work done by our volunteers is essential to the hospital’s ability to offer quality medical care,” said NHS Executive Vice President, Jim Berry. “Not only do they contribute significantly in man hours, but they frequently purchase equipment for the facility and provide scholarships to students. Their organization is a great benefit to the community.”

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63.4 million Americans, or 26.8 percent of the adult population, gave 8.1 billion hours of volunteer services worth $169 billion.

“It is very difficult to put a dollar value on volunteer time,” said TCH Director of Auxiliary Services, Ami Maddocks. “Volunteers provide many intangibles that cannot be easily quantified. For example, volunteers demonstrate the amount of support an organization has within a community, provide work for short periods of time and provide support on a wide range of projects.”

The Northeastern Health System’s Auxiliary began in 1974 when a group of volunteers gathered on Muskogee Avenue to open a clothing and resale shop called Remarkables. Years later, this same group of volunteers opened another business in the waiting room at the hospital. This business was a “gift shop” operated from a kiosk which later turned into a permanent store located in the front lobby of the hospital. More than 40 years later, both businesses are successfully in operation.

“I think I speak for all of the volunteers when I say we volunteer because we believe it makes a difference in people’s lives,” said Auxiliary President SueAnn Freeman. “It is truly amazing to think about the fact that each nickel and dime we make through sales or through our time is then turned into the technology used to save someone’s life.”

The Northeastern Health System Auxiliary is open to anyone 18 years of age or older. Volunteers typically donate 4 hours per week of time in a variety of areas throughout the hospital and at Remarkables. Auxiliary members may volunteer on a permanent basis, or volunteer for special tasks. For more information, or an application, please contact Tahlequah City Hospital’s Volunteer Office at (918) 453-2105, or visit www.tch-ok.org.

 

 

Myers Named Chief of Surgery at NHS
Photo Caption: Dr. Jack Myers was recently named Chief of Surgery at Northeastern Health System. His surgical experience, as well as his vast knowledge of hospital history and workings, will greatly compliment his new role.

Photo Caption: Dr. Jack Myers was recently named Chief of Surgery at Northeastern Health System. His surgical experience, as well as his vast knowledge of hospital history and workings, will greatly compliment his new role.

 

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Jack Myers, D.O., was recently named Chief of Surgery at Northeastern Health System. His surgical experience, as well as his vast knowledge of hospital history and workings, will greatly compliment his new role.

“I have worked in several roles in the hospital,” said Myers. “I started as an emergency room nurse tech in 1997. I was also an operating room orderly in 1999.”

By 2002 Myers was visiting patients as a medical student. Upon graduation he served as the emergency room attending physician from 2006 to 2008.

“I’ve literally and figuratively grown up in this facility,” said Myers. “I’ve mopped floors, stocked rooms, made coffee, applied dressings, bathed patients, and been a patient myself.”

Myers credits several mentors for his success as a physician.

“I started working here during undergraduate school at the University of Arkansas on nights and weekends.  I literally didn’t know what vital signs were,” remembered Myers. “ I had several mentors at this facility over the years, and I wouldn’t be the physician and surgeon I am today without them.  Roberta Jones, Steve Imhoff, and Pat Butler were emergency room nurses at the time.   Being allowed to participate in their end of patient care has given me perspective that I’ll use for the rest of my career.  Dr. John Galdamez was my mentor from undergraduate studies through surgical residency.  He’s probably the most gifted and inspiring physician I’ve ever known.   Dr. Randall Turner was also incredibly kind to me, and helped get me into medical school.  Dr. Tom Ward was a legendary surgeon here and I certainly enjoyed spending time with him as a medical student.”

Myers is excited to take on his new role as Chief of Surgery.

“I like to think that being appointed Chief of Surgery means that my peers respect me as a surgeon and see me as a leader,” he said. “One of the best things about working at NHS is feeling genuinely supported and appreciated by the administration.”

Myers and his wife of 10 years, Lana, have four children. When not working, Myers spends his time as a song writer and musician for his band The Vox Squadron. He also enjoys many outdoor activities.

Northeastern Health System offers Mammography Special
Photo Caption: The women’s health center at Northeastern Health System is offering $75 screening mammograms in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment, call (918) 772-4588. Pictured are the Women’s Center staff, row 1 (l to r): Dr. Cole, Misty Branan, Lirianne Escota, Katie Sellers, (row 2, L to R): Tiffany McCarter, Adrian Dismang, Sandra Medlin.

Photo Caption: The women’s health center at Northeastern Health System is offering $75 screening mammograms in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month. To make an appointment, call (918) 772-4588. Pictured are the Women’s Center staff, row 1 (l to r): Dr. Cole, Misty Branan, Lirianne Escota, Katie Sellers, (row 2, L to R): Tiffany McCarter, Adrian Dismang, Sandra Medlin.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, Northeastern Health System is offering mammogram screenings for a flat fee of $75. The focus of this annual effort is to educate women, and those who love them, about the important benefits of early breast cancer detection.

“Unfortunately, too many women fail to receive their annual mammography screenings,” said Misty Branan, NHS mammography technologist. “In some cases, this can be attributed to a lack of education. There are still some people who do not understand the importance of mammography in early breast cancer detection.   Other women avoid the annual tests because they are afraid; scared that the test itself will hurt or afraid of receiving possible bad news.”

The messages for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month are important:

  • Early detection saves lives.
  • Mammography screening is the single most effective method of early detection.
  • An annual mammogram is recommended for all women over 40 years of age.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally feel and should report any changes to their health care provider.
  • Breast self-examinations (monthly from age 20) and clinical examinations (at least every three years from age 20 to 35, and annually from age 40 and up) should be a part of regular breast health screenings.

 

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women,” said Branan. “Finding a tumor at its earliest stages and getting appropriate treatment not only provides the best chance of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis, but also provides the broadest range of effective treatment options.”

In addition to the inherited higher risk from a “breast cancer” gene, a number of other risk factors have been identified. These risk factors may be a good point of discussion for a women to outline a breast cancer screening plan with her health provider, but a lack of risk factors does not mean that a woman will not develop breast cancer. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer have none of these risk factors, so it is still important to receive regular breast cancer screenings.

Estrogen-Related Risk Factors:

  • Having an early first period (before the age of 12)
  • Having a late first pregnancy (after age 25 or 35)
  • Having no children
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Use of oral contraceptives has not been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.

 

Risk Factors You Can Change:

  • High fat intake – eat leaner meats and limit intake of saturated or hydrogenated fats.
  • Low fiber intake – increase consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake – eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • High alcohol intake – abstain from drinking or drink in moderation (less than two drinks per day).
  • Sedentary lifestyle – stay active, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most, if not all, days; maintain a healthy weight.
  • Smoking – enroll in a smoking cessation program or research over-the-counter aids to quit on your own.

 

The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community. To make an appointment for a mammogram and take advantage of the $75 flat fee, please call (918) 772-4588.

Northeastern Health System Announces Trimble as OB Director
Northeastern Health System Announces Trimble as OB Director

Northeastern Health System Announces Trimble as OB Director

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Northeastern Oklahoma Health System is pleased to announce the addition of Teina Trimble as the hospital’s new director of obstetrics. Trimble, who comes with more than 19 years of OB experience, has worked at NHS as a travel nurse for the past six years and is excited to call OB her permanent home.

“I started travel nursing in 2010 and took my first assignment here at NHS. I loved it so much I continued to come back and work here,” said Trimble. “It is a wonderful place to work. I think the thing that I like the very best is that the people here treat you like family. I was not a true employee of the hospital, yet the people made me feel like I was part of the family.”

Trimble graduated from NEO A&M collage in 1997. She then worked for a hospital for 13 years before deciding to become a travel nurse. Travel nurses typically fill gaps at facilities across the country due to extended absences, census fluctuations, staff training or other situations.

“We are ecstatic Teina has accepted the OB director position,” said Donna Dallis, NHS VP of Patient Care. “She is extremely dedicated to the field of nursing, continually strives to be the best she can, and gets along well with the other girls in the department.”

In addition to her many years of experience in OB, Trimble’s interpersonal skills make her a valued leader for the department.

“I try to listen with an open mind to everything the staff has to say,” said Trimble. “I am continually looking for ways to make the department flow better. “

Trimble credits her compassion and love of nursing to the time she spent caring for her ill mother.

“Taking care of my mom for 18 years while she was dying helped me realize I can make a difference in people’s lives,” said Trimble. “We stayed many days and nights in the hospital. I loved what the nurses did, so in my later years I went back to school and became a nurse.”

While she loved being a travel nurse, Trimble says she felt it was time to step into a position that would allow her to make a difference not only to the patients, but also to the staff.

“I love the girls I work with, and we have wonderful providers,” she said, “but, again, the thing I like best about this hospital is they make you feel like family. Everyone is so special and I feel like they treat their patients the same way.”

New Director to Help Improve Services at Northeastern Health System
Photo Caption: Tiffany Rush has recently been named as Director of the Medical/Surgical unit at Northeastern Healthy System. Her talent and expertise will add value to one of the busiest departments in the hospital.

Photo Caption: Tiffany Rush has recently been named as Director of the Medical/Surgical unit at Northeastern Healthy System. Her talent and expertise will add value to one of the busiest departments in the hospital.

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Tiffany Rush, RN, is proof that hard work pays off. Having worked for Northeastern Health System for six and a half years, Rush is excited about her new position as director of the Medical and Surgical (Med/Surg) unit. Understanding the changes in healthcare today, Rush intends to offer advanced education to staff in her department.

“My philosophy is ‘see one; do one; teach one.’ I think by sharing all you learn and being a teacher to those you’re in contact with, makes us all better equipped to provide the best care possible,” said Rush. “Patients are more acutely ill with chronic conditions and multiple comorbidities. It’s imperative that we keep up with evidenced-based practices and have positive outcomes.”

Rush began her NHS career as a nurse on the Med/Surg unit. She was soon promoted to charge nurse before moving up to serve as the hospital’s transfer coordinator and house supervisor.

“I feel the house supervisor position has been the most beneficial to prepare me for my new role as director,” she said. “NHS has recognized my potential, commitment and hard work, and they have allowed me these great opportunities to show all the skills I possess.”

The Med/Surg unit of the hospital is the unit that sees the greatest variety of patients, therefore providing the greatest learning environment.

“The patients are what make Med/Surg great,” said Rush. “This unit prepares a nurse mentally and physically and helps grow you into a person who learns respect, humility and team work.”

Northeastern Health System has long been known for providing excellence in healthcare. The numerous specialties provided are not commonly found in a rural hospital; however, the leadership at NHS has been committed to offering the community outstanding services close to home. Their success is evidenced by the tremendous growth experienced by the system, allowing them to branch out with services to surrounding communities.

“At NHS you’ll encounter the most caring and compassionate staff,” said Rush. “We all truly want your stay to be as pleasant and comfortable as possible during what is, undoubtedly, a not-so-pleasant time in your life.”

 

NHS Continuing to Invest in Ft. Gibson
Northeastern Health System is expanding its services in Ft. Gibson. Construction has already begun on the current facility and will add an additional 3,876 square feet to the current building, as well as adding three new family practice providers.

Northeastern Health System is expanding its services in Ft. Gibson. Construction has already begun on the current facility and will add an additional 3,876 square feet to the current building, as well as adding three new family practice providers.

 

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – In 2007, Northeastern Health System, then known as Tahlequah City Hospital, began construction projects amounting to more than $2.5 million in Ft. Gibson. These projects brought much needed healthcare to the area that has continued to thrive. As a result of the continued support and healthcare needs, NHS is once again investing in the Ft. Gibson community.
“We have seen a great need for more healthcare services in our surrounding communities,” said NHS VP of Operations, Mark McCroskey. “One of our goals is to offer quality healthcare close to home. The Ft. Gibson expansion will do just that.”
Construction, already underway, at the Ft. Gibson Medical Clinic is expected to be completed this November. It will add an additional 3,876 square feet to the current building, as well as adding three new family practice providers.
The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.
“The addition of more providers will make it easier for Ft. Gibson residents to get the healthcare they need in a timely manner,” said McCroskey. “We have loved serving our Ft. Gibson neighbors and are very excited to offer new services.”

NHS & Hastings Participate in Hospital Week
Brian Woodliff (left) and Jim Berry (far right) awarding Toni Kemp (middle) this year’s Biggest Loser award.

Brian Woodliff (left) and Jim Berry (far right) awarding Toni Kemp (middle) this year’s Biggest Loser award.

Recently, Northeastern Health System and W.W. Hastings Hospital joined forces to fight workforce obesity and host a conjoined family night sponsored by Cherokee Health Partners, W.W. Hastings Auxiliary and Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary. Activities included a weight-loss challenge, water balloon volleyball, inflatables, live music, food truck festival and money raised for the Tahlequah ROAR program and Tahlequah Food Pantry.

Two-thousand and sixteen marked the sixth year for the Biggest Loser competition between the two hospitals. NHS’s Toni Kemp won the overall competition with her loss of 45.4 pounds.  Runner’s up were Hastings employee Johnny Gilliam and NHS’s Nicole Little. Cumulatively, the hospital’s employees lost a combined weight of 635.7 pounds.

“Our two hospitals challenged each other to see which employee can lose the highest percentage of body weight over a three-month period,” said NHS President and CEO Brian Woodliff.  “Not only did this encourage our employees to choose healthier lifestyles, but it encouraged our two hospitals in a fun, healthy activity.”

This year’s family night took a different approach taking the focus off of competition and onto success both hospitals have had the last year. The Kickin’ Taco, Le Grubs and Soul Shack, all local food trucks, provided meals to all who attended. The Soul Shack sold out of food first securing the coveted Food Truck War trophy. The entertainment for the evening was the lively Rod Robertson Band. Other fun activities the attendees participated in were jump houses for the kids, horse shoes, a photo booth and drawings for fun prizes.

“We couldn’t offer quality healthcare if it weren’t for our employees,” said Woodliff.  “Hospital week activities are a fun way to acknowledge our employees and to let the staff of both hospitals interact.  We all work together to improve the overall health of this community and we are fortunate to have such a strong relationship with the Cherokee Nation.”

Topping off the week was a golf tournament was held at Cherokee Springs. Over $2,600 was collected from tournament that will go to the Tahlequah ROAR Program of Tahlequah Public Schools.

 

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

CS pill photoThe phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ has more truth to it than some may realize.

Studies performed at Cornell University suggest the quercetin found in apples protects brain cells against neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Eating foods such as apples are beneficial for over-all health and can aid in the prevention of illness which means less doctor visits!

While NHS wants their patients well, prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer. Evidence from studies show that overuse of antibiotics can create resistance in bacteria.

“Multi drug resistance can create what we call ‘super bugs’, said Jason Ballew, M.D. and Medical Director of ER. “This is serious because many infections no longer respond to antibiotics.”

A recent study by the CDC demonstrated that 1 out of 3 antibiotic prescriptions written in the United States is unnecessary.

Antibiotics have been a common form of treatment for illnesses such as Streptococcus Pharyngitis (Strep Throat) and Acute Otitis Media (ear infection), sinus infections, and bronchitis. Many recent studies have shown that they do not decrease the time of infection when compared against non-antibiotic treatments for these illnesses.

With strep-throat, in particular, we’ve learned that giving a single dose of steroids gets patients feeling better much more quickly than giving antibiotics.  Getting the patient feeling better is what it’s all about.

Beginning in January of 2015, Northeastern Health System and W.W. Hastings initiated a committee called Tahlequah’s Best Practice Committee. The TBPC applies national trends in healthcare including accountability when prescribing antibiotics in order to provide care that surpasses expectations. By doing so, TBPC promotes wellness in the community, which is the top priority, and enhances education to medical providers in surrounding areas.

We Can ALL Help SomeONE
Hershal headshot

Hershel Faucett, Housekeeper at Northeastern Health System

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” This quote by Ronald Regan is powerful in its meaning. Often times, taking the initiative to help one person can make more of an impact than we may realize.

Hershel Faucett, an employee at NHS, decided to pay it forward and lend a helping hand to a patient at one of our clinics. Here is his story.

Throughout Hershel’s day to day work routine, he would often see the same man waiting to be picked up after his appointment. He noticed the man seemed down in the dumps so Hershel thought he would strike up a conversation with him to change that.

“I just went up to him and introduced myself and he did the same,” said Hershel. “We would talk every time we saw each other and the topic was often over fishing because we both enjoy that hobby very much. I just wanted to cheer him up and let him know that even though he was in the shape that he was in, his life was still meaningful. I didn’t want him to lose hope.”

After several encounters, Hershel and the man became good friends. He noticed a change in the man.

“As time went on, I noticed he seemed more hopeful about life,” said Hershel. “He became more outgoing and happy.”

The man’s wheelchair caught Hershel’s attention one day. He saw that it was in poor condition. It was becoming tattered, old and not functioning as it should. Once again, Hershel felt called to do something about it.

“I noticed his wheelchair wasn’t going to last much longer so I asked him if he had talked to anyone about replacing it,” said Hershel. “He said he hadn’t thought about it and he was just thankful to have it. I asked him if it was ok for me to call around and see what I could do about getting him a new one.”

Hershel and his wife Rose began to call different businesses and ask around about a wheelchair. Together they were able to get a wheelchair that was in excellent condition for Hershel’s new friend.

“The only thing it needed was foot rests so I was able to get some from maintenance at NHS and put those on,” said Hershel. “When I gave him the wheelchair he was delighted. He gave me a great big smile and was so thankful for it. I’ve always had a place in my heart to help others. When I noticed the condition of his wheelchair, I felt led to do something about it.”

Prior to joining NHS, Hershel and his wife worked for a non-profit organization in Texas. They lived with 18 disabled men and women helping take care of them by giving them a better quality of life.

“My favorite thing about working there was being able to show the men and women that we cared about them,” said Hershel. “We would take them on a big trip once a year and we traveled to places like

Nashville, Branson and even Tahlequah for the Labor Day festivals. We knew we wanted to reside in Tahlequah permanently.”

After retiring and moving to Tahlequah, Hershel wanted to work again. Andy Klutts, NHS Director of Environmental Services, was a friend of Hershel’s and told him about a position he had open.

“Andy encouraged me to apply at Northeastern Health System,” said Hershel. “It seemed like the right place for me so I applied and have never regretted it. I’ve been here a year and a half now and I dearly love it.”

We admire Hershel’s dedication to our hospital and his desire to help those around him. He saw someone that he could help make a difference in their life and he did just that. We are proud to have Hershel a part of our NHS team.

Your Health; Our Promise
Tim Green, RN, CVICU, Sherry Owen, RRT, Cardiopulmonary and Rene Botts, RN, MICU prepare ventilator settings for a patient.

Tim Green, RN, CVICU, Sherry Owen, RRT, Cardiopulmonary and Rene Botts, RN, MICU prepare ventilator settings for a patient.

Your health is our main concern. Our promise is to provide the best care, always respect your privacy and continually improve hospital care for generations to come.

Hospitals are constantly buzzing with people in and out for different reasons. Whether a patient is in our care due to an injury or an illness, we do not want their recovery to be hindered by a hospital acquired condition.

Ventilator Acquired Pneumonia, also known as VAP, is a lung infection that can occur in hospitals when a patient is placed on a ventilator. A ventilator is a machine that helps a patient breath. Utilizing the machine allows the body to rest assisting in the healing process.

Patients have a greater chance of acquiring VAP the longer they are on a ventilator. This can potentially leave the patient with more problems than they had at admission.

“Weaning our patients off of the ventilator as soon as possible should be the goal for all caregivers,” said Sandy Henry, Director of Cardiopulmonary. “However, what caused the patient to be on the ventilator in the first place should be addressed.”

Most common reasons patients are put on a ventilator:

  • Acute respiratory distress
  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Pneumonia
  • Overdose
  • Post-operative complication (after surgery)

Our physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, lab/x-ray technicians, pharmacists and infection control officer all implement Ventilator Management which they call ‘the bundle’ to prevent VAP from occurring in our patients.

Steps taken during “the bundle”:

  • Keeping the head of the bed at or above 30 degrees to prevent aspiration of secretions
  • Frequent oral care to reduce growth of bacteria
  • Turning feeding tubes off when moving patient or lowering the head of the bed
  • Waking the patient daily to allow them to breathe on their own also known as ‘sedation interruption’
  • Medication to prevent gastric reflux which leads to aspiration (a frequent cause of pneumonia)

“It is important that we completely eliminate VAP,” said Cheri. “No matter what type of illness has caused our patients to be put on ventilator, we have been able to prevent VAP by utilizing ‘the bundle’ in our patients’ care plan. Thanks to our dedicated team, NHS has had a great outcome for 2015.”

Our Infection Control Officer, Cheri Oglesbee, audits our ventilator use every month for every patient. Her audits consist of tracking the number of patients on a ventilator, total number of ventilator days generated, signs/symptoms of developing infection, the average length of stay for our patients and reporting the outcome.

  • NHS VAP cases for 2015 = 0
  • NHS VAP cases for 2014 = 4
  • NHS VAP cases for 2013 = 4

“Patients at our hospital are vulnerable,” said Julie Potts, AVP of Quality, Safety & Accreditation. “While our main concern is treating their admitted diagnosis, we are continuously monitoring their surrounding environment to ensure their safety. The fact that NHS experienced zero VAP cases for 2015 means that our staff are surpassing National standards – that is something our community should be proud of.”

Our NHS team members work together to practice evidence based medicine which assists in the prevention of VAP. We are proud of their efforts and excited to announce we had zero patients acquire Ventilator Associated Pneumonia for 2015!

Extraordinary Physician Returns to NHS
Brian Woodliff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northeastern Health System, Charles Gosnell, M.D. and new Trustee of the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board, Jim Berry, Hospital Administrator and Vice President of Northeastern Health System.

Brian Woodliff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northeastern Health System, Charles Gosnell, M.D. and new Trustee of the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board, Jim Berry, Hospital Administrator and Vice President of Northeastern Health System.

Our halls have missed Dr. Gosnell. After 12 years of retirement he is back serving as a trustee on the Tahlequah Hospital Authority. His medical expertise, heart for the community and his proven leadership made him a natural fit for the newly opened seat.

“Dr. Gosnell’s reputation, broad range of medical experience and knowledge of the internal workings of hospitals and health systems made him the ideal candidate to take on the physician representative position on the Board of Trustees,” said Brian Woodliff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northeastern Health System. “He will bring integrity and mission to every decision he supports.”

Charles attended the University Of Oklahoma College Of Medicine where he graduated with his doctorate in 1967. After graduation, Charles completed his residencies and his fellowship in imaging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1981 specializing in diagnostic radiology and nuclear radiology.

Charles has served in many leadership roles, but not limited to:

  • Director of Emergency at St Francis Hospital
  • Founder and President of Emergency Care Inc. at St Francis Hospital
  • Assistant Professor of Radiology and Chief of Nuclear Medicine at City of Faith Medical Center
  • Chairman of the Radiation Safety Committee at City of Faith Medical Center
  • Chairman of the Radiation Safety Committee at Northeastern Health System
  • Medical Director of Radiology at Northeastern Health System
  • Team Physician for the University of Tulsa Basketball
  • Team Physician for Missouri Valley All Star Basketball during their Brazil Tour
  • Medical Director for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (current)
  • Advisory Board member for the Claremore Service Unit and Indian Hospital (current)

Charles proves his love for our community by his acts of service. With the constant desire to always give back, he has served as a mentor for Boys and Girls Club and as a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Tahlequah.

From the medical field to his military service, Charles has consistently led a life dedicated to serving others. He faithfully served our country in the United States Navy Reserves beginning in 1968 to 1977. He was deployed to Vietnam on active duty attached to the Marines as a physician from 1969 to 1970. His efforts in the military did not go unnoticed and he was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal. He was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant Commander in 1977.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve with the type of leader Charles is,” said Gary Harrington, Chairman of the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board. “He has served our community in many leadership roles with an unwavering focus on our regional providers delivering the best healthcare to our part of the state.”

We are delighted to proudly welcome Dr. Charles Gosnell to the Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board of Trustees!

Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary: Ambassadors of Goodwill, Service and Compassion

Being as it is National Volunteer Week we recognize our dedicated Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers for their selfless hearts and the helping hands they lend all over our hospital.

Behind the scenes at NHS are over 50 tireless volunteers who work hard each day to ensure every patient’s stay at the hospital is as comfortable as possible.

“Throughout the years the Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary has served as ambassadors of goodwill, service and compassion,” said Vice President of Patient Care and Risk Manager Donna Dallis, MS, RN, CPHRM. “Not only do they provide financial support for our hospital, their smiling faces and caring hearts touch our patients, staff and the community every day.”

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, Auxiliary members will be recognized with an awards luncheon hosted by NHS Administration. During the special event the volunteers will receive their certification of appreciation, hours of service pin and door prizes of all sorts.

“We are fortunate to have such kind and giving volunteers,” said Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “It is an honor to recognize those who have selflessly given so much.”

The Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers serve in multiple different departments; they operate the gift shop; deliver newspapers throughout the hospital; assist at Admitting/Patient Registration, Same Day Surgery and Main Lobby information desks. Additionally, a group of THA volunteers operate Remarkables resale shop downtown Tahlequah.

For more information about the Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary, please call 918-453-2105.

Investing in the Future of Healthcare

IMG_1692 (003)Over 40 Indian Capital Technology Center students toured NHS today to get a first-hand look at the diversity of job opportunities the campus has to offer. Out of the 40 students, 20 (pictured) recently graduated ICTC’s CNA program and are looking to put their new certification to use!

Students were introduced to staff from all of the nursing units and had conversations with various unit directors, doctors and other NHS employees. These students are on their way to do big things in the healthcare field and we could not be happier that they toured our facility!

“I love the opportunity to take what the students are learning in class and watch it ‘come to life’ during our campus tours,” said Erielle Stout, Director of Patient and Public Relations. “These students are at such an impressionable stage where they are making decisions that will effect where they live, what career path they choose and who their employer of choice will be. Giving these students reasons to want to stay in Tahlequah, become invested in our community and help improve the lives of our neighbors through healthcare is the highlight of my day!”

If you know someone that would benefit from taking a tour of our facility to see what NHS has to offer, have them contact Erielle Stout at estout@nhs-ok.org!

Big City Technology, Small Town Feel

Radiology (002)Each Thursday we like to take time to highlight a specific department, say a genuine thank you for the quality of care they provide for our patients. Today, we visited with our Director of Radiology, Daniel Hannon to talk with him about the importance of his departments to the hospital and what they mean to him. Here is what he had to say,

“Here at NHS we are able to provide services and technologies that are typically found in larger cities while maintaining that small town feel for our patients,” said Hannon. “I am very proud to work with a team that takes so much pride in providing such specialized care for their community. In the 18 years of my imaging career I have never seen a more specialized staff. All of our Technologists are Board Certified specifically to their particular modality. This is just one more example of our hospital’s commitment to quality care and best practices for our patients.”

We are thankful for our Radiology team and the advanced care they provide for our patients. These staff who specialize in medical imaging such as x-rays, CTs, MRIs, PETs, fusion imaging and ultrasound help SAVE LIVES!

Springtime Pasta and Beans

food-pasta-tomato-theme-workspaces

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Kidney Beans, a Mixture of Black Beans or other favorite Beans

6 ounces uncooked or farfalle (bow tie pasta)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

6 center-cut lean ham slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups sliced red onion

8 garlic cloves, sliced

3 ounces thinly sliced mushrooms

1 cup fresh shelled or frozen green peas, thawed

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 ounces fresh Shredded Parmesan cheese (about 6 tablespoons)

1/2 cup torn basil leaves (fresh)

Preparation

Place uncooked beans in a large pot of boiling water cook 1 minute

Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted water

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat

Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat

Add ham sauté 3 minutes or until ham begins to brown

Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender

Add mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown

Add kidney beans and peas, sauté 2 minutes

Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil, pasta, juice, and salt, cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated

Remove pan from heat

Stir in 3 tablespoons cheese

Divide pasta mixture evenly among 4 bowls, and top evenly with remaining 3 tablespoons cheese and basil

NHS Celebrates National Patient Access Week
group shot

Patient Financial Services Staff

This week, April 3rd-9th, we celebrated national Patient Access Week. Patient Access Week acknowledges the unique contribution patient access associates have on the patient experience. Patient Access associates are the first person patients and visitors encounter in a health care organization. These dedicated staff members fill the roles of receptionists, registration, insurance verification, financial counseling, and scheduling in the health care organization.

The Patient Access Week is sponsored by the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM). NAHAM promotes best practices, standards, and subject matter expertise to influence and promote high quality delivery of Patient Access Services. NAHAM accomplishes its mission through networking, education, and certification opportunities.

In 2015, NAHAM launched AccessKeys. These key performance indicators allow NAHAM members to implement, track, and benchmark service delivery. In 2016, NAHAM will launch further benchmarking keys specifically related to Patient Experience.

We spoke with a few of our employees regarding this national week and what it means to the hospital, here is what they had to say,

“It is very rewarding to know we are able to assist our patients in meeting their healthcare needs,” said Director of Patient Access, Jackie Hullinger. “Scheduling and registering our patients for their procedures as well as educating them about their insurance are all key roles that help the individual departments of this hospital. I am thankful to work with these dedicated people so this week is about showing them how much they are appreciated.”

“Patient Financial Services is a unique department designed to ensure that our patients have a pleasant experience after they have received services at our hospital,” said Patient Financial Services Supervisor, Keeli Duncan. “We are equipped to advise patients on any billing, insurance or payment questions. I am honored to work with such a dedicated and customer oriented staff, and cannot wait to see the accomplishments that this department will have in the future.”

Leadership in both departments shed some love on their staff by organizing daily events throughout the week to show their appreciation. Events included department breakfast and lunch, a candy buffet, service pins, goodie bags, personalized cards and a bulletin board to share thankful messages between co-workers.

Patient Access Staff

Patient Access Staff

HIM Department Stepping Up to the Plate
HIM cropped

NHS Health Information Management Staff

April 4th-9th is National Health Information Professionals Week. During this week we honor and celebrate our health information professionals. The NHS Health Information Management (HIM) department plays a key role in the effective management of health, data and medical records needed to deliver quality healthcare to the public.

We sat down and spoke with Cindy about her department and the importance of her staff’s efforts. Here’s what she had to say,

“The health information technology revolution has been in full swing for some time now, and as technology progresses, the changes that have occurred in the HIM department has left the profession profoundly different since I entered the paper medical record world ten years ago. In record time and at an unprecedented pace, the electronic health record (EHR) has spurred a revolutionary change in HIM departments throughout the country. Our HIM department has stepped up to the plate many times over the years and has met many challenges with a ‘can do’ spirit and will continue to adapt and thrive in this fast paced high-tech world. I’m very proud to be on this champion HIM team and look forward to the high-tech journey we are on!”

In an effort to display appreciation for their staff, the HIM Department leadership organized daily event for their staff. Events include a department breakfast, an ice cream social, a luncheon and pins and certifications of appreciation.

New Director Chooses NHS for Their Excellence in Healthcare
Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas, Director of Life Safety.

We are pleased to introduce Mike Thomas, Director of Life Safety, to our team.

Mike’s new role is to evaluate life safety code compliance. He verifies procedures, inspects patient care areas and ensures compliance.

“Each area of the hospital has to be designed for the type of healthcare it provides,” said Mike. “I make sure that every department is maintained and in compliance with state regulations and federal codes.”

Mike graduated from Okmulgee Tech as a licensed plumber and pipe fitter. He designed and installed plumbing for hospitals from the ground up; then took a turn in his career and went to work for McAlester Regional as the Director of Plant Operations. Prior to NHS, Mike served as a Health Facilities Consultant with OSDH for 19 years.

Because of Mike’s broad experience in healthcare, he was selected by our state leaders to be an inspector for hospitals not only in Oklahoma, but across the United States. He has inspected every single hospital in our state with the exception of Altus.

“Out of every single hospital in the state of Oklahoma, I chose NHS,” said Mike. “I came to work for this hospital because of our excellence in healthcare and the goals we set for ourselves. I knew I wanted to be a part of that.”

Mike is native to Oklahoma and grew up in McAlester. He has been married to his wife Pam, for 37 years. Together they have 2 sons and 5 grandchildren. In Mike’s free time, he enjoys being around family and loved ones.

3 fun facts about Mike Thomas:

  • His favorite music is classic rock
  • He trains race horses
  • He is good at voice impersonations (Bill Clinton)

Welcome to NHS, Mike. We are proud to have you as part of our team!

 

Career Nurse Climbs the Ranks to Oversee NHS’ Patient Care
Donna head shot

Description: Donna Dallis, Vice President of Patient Care.

“I never thought I would leave the bedside.”

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Donna Dallis’ medical career began simply enough as a teenage nurse’s aide, providing basic care in a nursing home for “two dollars and a nickel per hour.”

“I liked it,” Dallas says. “I never thought I would leave the bedside.”

Of course, that was some time ago, and so much has changed since then. Minimum wages have gone up. Technology has improved with the change in centuries. The medical needs are still there, but the care has gotten so much better.

And Donna Dallis has left the floor – but not before accumulating several nursing degrees and working her way into becoming Vice President of Patient Care here at Northeastern Health System.

“It may sound corny, but I miss the floor,” says Dallis, who is as down home as they come.

In her new role, however, she is able to provide so many more patients with the care and dedication so common among the staff at Northeastern Health System. Already responsible for the pharmacy, lab and clinical departments, Dallis has been entrusted this year with the hospital’s top-flight radiology and physical therapy departments and its cutting-edge Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center.

“I’m caring for the patient through someone else,” Dallis says. “I work with the patients when they have a concern (about their care).”

Asked whether she still feels the urge to jump in and help the nursing staff, Dallis says, “I don’t step into the room. I try to help them from the administrative side.”

Dallis comes from a family of nurses, but it should be noted she was first. Her mother and sister have since followed her into the profession, and her daughter is a traveling pediatric nurse, working 13-week stints at hospitals around the country. No word yet on what careers her two grandchildren are considering.

“As many people as I can push into healthcare, I do,” Dallis says. Indeed, she proudly notes newborns at Northeastern Health System are outfitted with onesies that come with little stethoscopes printed on the front.

Dallis joined the staff at Northeastern Health System in 1990, and has been here ever since.

“Yes, that’s very rare,” she says.

Along the way, Dallis has earned an associate’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree and her registered nurse certification and a master’s degree in science from Oklahoma University. She gave up her nursing scrubs in 2000 to become the hospital’s Director of Outpatient Surgery.

“Healthcare … was pretty simple in the 1990s. It least it was to me, as a (licensed practicing nurse) on the floor,” Dallis says. “I’ve learned a lot since then, believe me. As an LPN, the more I increased my knowledge, the more I wanted to learn.

“Now, the more I know about how a hospital is run, the more I want to know. By nature, I just like to be involved. There’s something in healthcare for absolutely everybody.”

Indeed, if there’s a medical specialty, Northeastern Health System has it. It has a heart center to go with its cancer center. It boasts one of the top-rated dialysis units in the nation. It offers oncologists, gastroenterologists, pediatricians, pulmonologists and just about everything in between – including dietary experts.

“We’re bringing people to town a hospital our size doesn’t normally do,” Dallis says, calling the growth “amazing.”

Dallis has seen the hospital’s staff more than quadruple in the last 13 years, from almost 200 to about 900. All of which means as the range of services grows, the less patients have to rely on health facilities elsewhere to get the quality care they need.

“A lot of our patients don’t drive, so it’s less of a burden on their families,” Dallis says. “Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined what Northeastern Health System has turned into.”

 

NHS’ Medical Specialties Prove Community’s Size Doesn’t Matter

Dr. Simpson Adds GI Practice to Hospital’s Other Growing Practices

Bill Simpson head shot

Dr. Bill Simpson, M.D., FACP

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern Health System sits alongside United States Highway 62 in this idyllic community, which stretches out across the rolling hills of eastern Oklahoma. The town’s population has only recently eclipsed 15,000, which makes you wonder how it supports a hospital the size and quality of Northeastern.

Simple. Tahlequah sits squarely in the center of Cherokee County and its 50,000 residents, and the hospital has a close relationship with the Cherokee Nation. That gives so many more people access to Northeastern Health System, it’s cancer center and heart center, and its other state-of-the-art health services.

“It’s the size of the surrounding communities,” says Dr. Bill Simpson, who heads up Northeastern Health System’s gastroenterology (GI) practice. “To support one GI … the size of the town would have to be more than 15,000. But it’s a lot more than 15,000 here.

“Plus, you have the Cherokee Nation and all of its patients. Half my practice is probably referrals from the Cherokee Nation providers. It’s a win-win. The hospital gets patients, and the Nation is able to provide service to their patients at the local level, and at reduced costs.”

Dr. Simpson was brought in to establish Northeastern Health System’s GI practice, diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system. He quickly realized – as all the hospital newcomers do – that by offering specialized services, patients no longer need to travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma City or even Arkansas for top-flight medical care.

“There’s an unmet need here,” says Dr. Simpson. “When hospitals grow out of rural hospitals into being regional centers, you need specialists. The physicians can’t all be PCPs (primary care physicians).”

In recent years, Northeastern Health System has added cardiovascular, urology, pulmonary critical care and orthopedic specialists.

“And now a spine surgeon,” Dr. Simpson says. “Some things need to go to a higher level of care, but there was a lot of stuff not being done here that can now be done at a high level without patients traveling somewhere.”

Dr. Simpson also lends his considerable talents to the hospital’s residency program, which began a partnership with Oklahoma State’s medical school in 2009. Twenty-two med school graduates participate in Northeastern Health System’s two residency programs – Family Medicine and Internal Medicine – hoping to join the knowledgeable, skilled and compassionate physicians that have gone before them.

“We need to educate those young doctors, and I just enjoy teaching. Always have. It’s fun to help them develop as professionals,” Dr. Simpson says.

Like Northeastern Health System’s alliance with Cherokee Health Partners, the residency program helps everyone it touches.

“Teaching requires you stay current, competent, stimulated … that benefits both the physician and the hospital, but it also benefits the patients and the community. We’re bringing doctors to a town this size that we would have trouble recruiting otherwise.”

A Kentucky native, Dr. Simpson is nearing the end of his first year in Tahlequah. He moved here from East Texas, where he helped set up another GI practice, to be with his fiancé – and he couldn’t be happier.

“I love it here. It’s a nice-sized community,” Dr. Simpson says. “It’s a small town, but with the amenities of a larger city, if you need it.”

The feeling is mutual.

NHS Promotes Director to New Position
Julie Potts, NHS Assistant Vice President of Quality, Safety & Accreditation.

Julie Potts, NHS Assistant Vice President of Quality, Safety & Accreditation.

Northeastern Health System is pleased to announce that Julie Potts, BSN, RN, has been promoted from Director of Performance Improvement to Assistant Vice President of Quality, Safety & Accreditation.

Potts’ new role will enforce the importance of quality and safety in patient care to a new level of oversight. Her responsibility is to proactively address risk management and patient safety while continuously making improvements. Potts is committed to listening to the concerns that patients and their families might have to help advance current processes and apply best practices to the delivery of care provided by NHS.

“The goal is to align quality and safety standards to CMS standards,” said Potts. “We want to make sure we are providing the best care and are able to meet regulatory guidelines at any given notice.”

Potts has over 16 years of nursing experience. Her background includes hospital setting, home health and hospice. She came to NHS in 2005 working as a nurse in the Med-Surg department and a few months later was offered the position as Director of Med-Surg; she has been in leadership roles ever since.

“I always felt that nursing was my calling,” said Potts. “I have a heart for helping people and nursing is an amazing way to minister to others.”

Potts has three children, Maranda, Madison and Dustin. She stays busy with all of their extra-curricular activities and school functions. Potts is native to Northeast OK and graduated from Hulbert High School. In her free time she enjoys spending time with loved ones, watching movies and being outdoors. Potts next goal is to pursue a Master’s degree in nursing.

VP Gets Personal Look at Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center
Phyllis Smith, Vice President of Human Resources

Phyllis Smith, Vice President of Human Resources

NHS Staff Gives Smith Same Care, Dedication as All Cancer Patients

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – It’s a simple computer-generated certificate, like you one you would get for perfect attendance or baking muffins for a school event. Taped to the wall as it is, the certificate might as well be just another piece of paper on your typical cluttered office.

That is, until you read the not-so-fine print: “Certificate of Completion of Radiation Therapy. Presented, October 23, 2014 to Phyllis Smith.” It bears five signatures, with one person having scrawled, “You have been awesome.”

To Phyllis Smith, Northeastern Health System’s Vice President of Human Resources and Safety, the certificate might as well be worthy of a gilded frame and hung in the Louvre.

“They were my cheerleaders, my counselors,” Smith says of the Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center’s staff, who guided her through cancer treatment last year.

Smith’s cancer is in remission now, thanks in no small part to the Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center’s quality care and its staff. To them, she was not the HR person who sometimes had to deal with tough issues. To them, she was another patient that deserved every bit of the knowledge and compassion they had to offer – just like everyone else who came through their lobby doors.

“Anytime you receive medical care from people you know, it’s weird. They see you at your worst,” Smith says. “There were days I went in and I didn’t think I could do it anymore … but they were phenomenal. When I see them now, it’s, ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ “

Smith’s life changed in August 2014, when a colonoscopy she had delayed for six years came back with a diagnosis of colon cancer. She immediately began chemo and radiation treatment, the latter requiring five visits a week to NHS’ cancer center for five and a half weeks.

Instead of helping her daughter through her first pregnancy, Smith found herself relying on the assistance of others. But while painful and trying, the experience gave Smith a first-hand look at how NHS’ staff cares for its patients – and a new-found appreciation for the professions around her.

“You don’t go into (the medical) field thinking it’s going to be a happy place,” Smith says. “I don’t know how to explain it, but you’re working with some of the sickest people around, and you see how their lives have been disrupted.

“Every time the (center’s) door opened, (the staff) had smiles on their faces. ‘How are you doing today?’ I saw how the staff treated me, I saw how the staff treated others. When you’re doing chemo, you’re in the same room with other people doing chemo. You don’t know the names, the history, the stories, but you know they’re going through the same treatment you are.”

Smith’s radiation treatments ended in September 2014, but she still had to undergo an additional four months of chemo and several painful surgeries.

“I was blessed. I would come to work and at 7 or 8 and at 2:30, I would walk downstairs (for chemo),” says Smith, who then had a 15-minute window to get home. “I worked through most of the treatments. Some days, you feel like there’s nothing wrong with your body. Other days, you feel like you couldn’t function. Sometimes, I would show up at work and say, ‘Sorry, I can’t do this,’ and turn around and go home.”

Smith lost close to 50 pounds during the ordeal – “It was a horrible way to lose weight, but I’m blessed I had some to lose,” she says – but now that it’s behind her, she can only marvel at the skill and dedication of those who helped her through the worst of times.

“They just kept telling me I was a blessing to them,” Smith says. “They told me I was a real good patient … I didn’t see that. I would go in crying.”

Her treatments ended in May and in July, a checkup could not find a single cancer cell in her body. Smith is back at work full time, but she also has a grandson, Brock, to keep her busy as well.

“I’m blessed, not only to have the cancer center here, but to have been treated by people I know, that I consider my friends.”

NHS Welcomes New Executive
Connie head shot

Connie Obenrader, NHS Assistant Vice President of Operational Nursing.

Northeastern Health System is pleased to introduce Connie Obenrader, MS, RN, NE-BC, to the NHS team as the new Assistant Vice President of Operational Nursing.

Connie’s role will provide support to the Vice President of Patient Care as well as the physicians, nursing leadership and clinical coordinators of our OR/OPS, CCU, ICU and Infusion department.

Obenrader’s responsibilities are to make sure we have the right services in place in each unit for the community and to manage our resources in an effective manner.

“I came to Tahlequah because I wanted to help build the resources to support a small yet growing community,” said Obenrader. “I wanted to be a part of an expanding health system that strives to provide excellent care. We are small in size, but there is no reason why our quality of care can’t be just as good as hospitals in Tulsa, OKC and Fayetteville. We want the citizens of this community to want to come here and receive care and not feel like they have to drive somewhere else to be taken care of.”

Obenrader has experience in a broad spectrum of healthcare roles and environments. She has worked in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), long-term care, physician practices, ER, Labor & Delivery, Pediatrics, Dialysis and served as the Director of Operations in Hospice and Home Health.

“The goal was to always learn as much as I could about healthcare in all of its forms,” said Obenrader. “I felt being experienced in many areas of healthcare would allow me to truly understand what’s possible and be able to lead teams with high expectations.”

Connie is married to her husband John, who is a retired Army Veteran and together they have 6 children. Her husband owns an archery business and he is excited to relocate it to Tahlequah. She is native to Northeast OK and grew up in Chelsea, OK. She is currently working on earning her doctorate in Nursing Practice from Duke University. When Connie is not at work she enjoys shooting her bow, cooking, playing the piano and has big plans to take sailing lessons this summer with her daughter.

NHS’ Dr. Moore Humble, But Casts Large Shadow

ER Physician Shares Care – and Goodwill – Despite “Constant Triage”

Dr. Mary Moore in her preferred work setting.

Dr. Mary Moore in her preferred work setting.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Mary K. Moore is a diminutive woman, but large in spirit. So large, in fact, those who work alongside the emergency department physician at Northeastern Health System Tahlequah would rather they’re not limited to just one Mary K. Moore.

“I wish we could clone her,” says Becky Abshier, Director of Emergency Department at Northeastern Health System. “We’d have four of them.”

While others in the hospital are still eating breakfast, Dr. Moore flits about the ED on a recent Thursday morning, dispensing good nature along with medical expertise. Outside, it’s a peaceful, crisp Oklahoma fall morning. In the ER, it’s anything but.

Her hair pulled back neatly in a bun, Dr. Moore checks on an “elderly gentleman” who passed out at home. She is working with a second patient to manage his blood pressure and heart rate. Finally, she is trying to decide whether a third medical emergency may need a cardiovascular surgeon.

Despite the intensive atmosphere, she has time for a smile and a kind word with those around her, exemplifying the exceptional and quality care provided by the Northeastern Health System’s staff.

“I don’t have the luxury of scheduling patients,” Dr. Moore says. “Sometimes, the ER can be overwhelming. You can’t reschedule anybody … you just know you have to take care of the patients.”

Dr. Moore, 46, began her medical training planning a career in pediatrics. But once she started her rotations, she found herself leaning to the emergency medicine and its constant flow of patients.

“I like the ability to see patients, evaluate them and get results back in a timely manner,” she says. “The ED is almost continuous triage. When we’re back here, you know who’s the sickest and who has to be taken care of first, and you take it from there.”

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Dr. Moore grew up in Tahlequah and in Sallisaw. She has been on staff since 2009, after first completing her payback to Indian Health Services following graduation from Oklahoma State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tulsa.

Dr. Moore is so good at what she does she found herself featured last year in the New York Times’ health and wellness blog, Well. The case concerned a 19-year-old man who collapsed at work several years ago after months of increased weakness and vomiting. The young man’s previous visits to Northeastern Health System’s ER resulted in diagnoses of dehydration – until Dr. Moore treated him.

As the Times put it, “an E.R. doctor in (the) small-town Oklahoma hospital (put) it all together.”

Dr. Moore couldn’t believe her patient was 19. He was a little over 5 feet tall and weighed about 90 pounds. She checked records of his previous visits, ran some lab tests and did some reading.

Her diagnosis? Addison’s disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the adrenal glands “as if they were foreign invaders.” Dr. Moore started treatments immediately before eventually sending the patient to Tulsa for a specialist’s care.

Today, the young man has said he has gained 25 pounds and joined a local volunteer fire department.

The ever-humble Dr. Moore doesn’t mention the national publicity. Those that work alongside her know Dr. Moore’s was only concerned about providing not only a diagnosis, but an answer to the mystery behind the patient’s symptoms.

Northeastern Health System continues to add staff (almost 200) and specialists – urology, nephrology, cardiovascular, sports medicine – which may prevent Dr. Moore from sending other patients to Tulsa in the future.

“If we can keep more patients local, it’s not a burden for their families or their caregivers,” she says.

And just to be sure no one feels the burden, Dr. Moore is there. Even if she’s just one.

NHS Promotes Executive to New Position
Amy Williams, Vice President of System Clinical Operations

Amy Williams, Vice President of System Clinical Operations

Northeastern Health System is pleased to announce that Amy Williams, MSN, RN-CENP, has been promoted from Assistant Vice President of Clinical Operations to Vice President of System Clinical Operations.

Amy’s role will provide support for the health systems joint venture accounts going beyond the acute care facility. She will be focusing on joint ventures such as the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center and Cherokee Health Partners.

“I am excited to take on this new role to help further assist the development and expansion of our new and existing service lines,” said Williams. “This will allow us to serve a growing and more diverse population.”

Williams has over 20 years of nursing experience. She has gained knowledge working in different clinical settings such as cardiac catheterization lab, ambulatory surgery center, emergency room, cardiology center and internal medicine clinic. She also served as the Department Director of CCU and CVICU. Williams earned her Master of Science and Nursing from Oklahoma University in 2014 and was certified in Executive Nursing Practice in 2015.

“I have a family background in healthcare,” said Williams. “My mom is a nurse, too, so that influenced my career path and I’m thankful I chose nursing.”

Amy is married to her husband Brian who is a Nurse Practitioner in Tulsa, OK. Together they have two sons. Their eldest son Brett is newly married to wife Shae and they currently reside in Weatherford, OK. Their youngest son Brayden is a freshman at OSU. In Amy’s free time she enjoys spending time with her family, the outdoors, reading and gardening.

 

Heart Disease; Are you at risk?
Guest speaker Dr. Paula Guinnip, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, gives a presentation at the Heart Luncheon and educates the audience about heart disease.

Guest speaker Dr. Paula Guinnip, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, gives a presentation at the Heart Luncheon and educates the audience about heart disease.

Northeastern Health System hosted a Heart Luncheon Thursday Feb. 25 at the Armory in Tahlequah, OK which was sponsored by the Northeastern Oklahoma Heart Center. This event was influenced by the Go Red For Women Campaign and the fight against cardiovascular disease. The goal was to provide free education to the community about heart disease and prevention.

Served at the luncheon, was a four course meal designed by the NHS Culinary & Nutrition department. It was a heart healthy meal with a southwestern twist. They provided a salad, soup, main entrée and dessert keeping everyone satisfied during the presentation.

“The goal was to prepare a meal that was healthy without sacrificing flavor, said Lois Fladie, Registered Dietitian & Director of Culinary & Nutrition.  “This can only be done by using fresh foods and preparing from scratch.  Most participants didn’t miss the salt and fat for only 700 calories.”

The luncheon’s speaker was special guest, Dr. Paula Guinnip, Cardiovascular Surgeon. Guinnip provided a thorough presentation about the history of the Go Red For Women Campaign and shared some alarming statistics about heart disease in American women. She explained that the first step to fighting heart disease is educating the female population at an early age so they know the risks, signs, and the ways to prevent this silent killer.

“Cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year,” said Guinnip. “This means that nearly one woman is killed every 80 seconds from heart disease.”

Many women do not realize the risk factors of this disease. Here are the risk factors that you cannot control:

  • History of heart disease in your family
  • If you are 55 years of age or older
  • History of preeclampsia during any of your pregnancies
  • Diabetes

Here are the risk factors for heart disease that you can control.

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Your body weight
  • Your physical activity
  • Your alcohol intake
  • Birth control
  • Diet

Making lifestyle choices such as eating healthy, exercising, not smoking and keeping a normal weight for your body type can significantly lower your risk for heart disease by 82 percent! Taking these simple steps can take you on a road to a heart healthy lifestyle.

It is crucial to know the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. These symptoms differ from person to person so being aware of these and signs and knowing when to call for medical assistance can save your life. The symptoms are:

  • Chest pain (discomfort, pressure or squeezing)
  • Upper body pain (arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw or upper stomach)
  • Experience shortness of breath
  • Breaking out into a cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Light headedness

Keeping your healthcare provider informed about all of your questions and concerns regarding your heart health can improve your quality of life as well. It is important to ask your doctor detailed questions and to let them know if you have any changes in the behavior of your heart and your over-all health. So many women are at risk of heart disease and are not aware of it so by talking to your doctor and choosing to make heart healthy choices can prevent you from being the 1 in 3.

NHS Promotes Responsible Medication Management

pillsHave you ever taken an Advil or Tylenol when a headache arose or other forms of pain were present? Are you that person that takes a pain pill every time you feel acute pain, no matter what the cause is? It is important to know the side effects and potential dangers associated with all medications. These medications are called pain relievers because they simply relieve your pain, they do not cure an illness so knowing the difference is crucial. Therefore, if you continue to mask your symptoms with pain medication, the underlying problem can become serious.

Today, narcotics are medications prescribed by a physician to help relieve severe pain. While these medications are highly effective and highly addictive, they are intended for short term relief and not for chronic pain. Their long term use results in side effects that demonstrate these narcotics can do more harm than good.

These side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, headache and constipation. Another side effect from long term consumption of narcotics is kidney damage which can be fatal. The side effects from narcotics alone can be quite damaging to the body which is why it is important to take the medication as directed and monitor your body’s reaction.

The state of Oklahoma now regulates the amount of narcotics physicians can prescribe to help combat addiction. They are required to look up your personal prescriptive history, including the dosage and frequency, to monitor the signs of abuse. This helps keep the physician as well as the patient accountable.

“Many patients become addicted to prescription pain relievers, so much that the federal and state governments are using the word ‘epidemic’,” said Jim Berry, Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator. “NHS and its physicians believe that we shouldn’t do anything that harms patients. This includes contributing to their addiction.”

It is important to always keep your primary healthcare provider in the know for the good of your overall health.

NHS Launches News Service

Sharing the Stories of Our Staff, Patients, and Community

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Northeastern Health System launches a news service with stories about healthy living, feature stories on staff members, and highlighting important community events.

The stories will be distributed on the hospital’s website, although the organization plans on leveraging and growing its social media presence to engage employees, patients, and members of the community as a virtual town square where everyone has the opportunity to engage in the things that are important to them, said Erielle Stout, Director of Patient and Public Relations.

“Every day I’m out on Facebook or Twitter and I see stories about doctors or nurses doing something amazing but I know firsthand that so many of our doctors and nurses have done that much or more,” she said. “I don’t think that many people realize the tremendous resources that are available here and this is our chance to share that.”

Stout also noted that many of the healthy living stories she sees are written by and for people in large cities or in areas different than Tahlequah.

“When we give advice about healthy living, it will be from our on-staff experts who live and work in Cherokee County and understand our community. This is about neighbors sharing information and interesting stories, which is what our community is all about,” Stout said.

The stories will be more than just the biographies of the staff. They will delve into the person’s interests and hobbies, because staff at NHS are interesting people who have so much to share. And, as NHS shares them on social media, they can be shared hundreds of times much more effectively than other communications channels.

“This allows everyone to read the stories when it’s convenient to them. Whether you’re online for hours a day or even every couple of days, the stories will be there when it’s convenient to them,” said Stout.

Brian Woodliff, CEO of Northeastern Health Systems, said this new initiative is widely used outside the health care industry.

“As we researched this initiative, what we found is that nearly all of the Fortune 100 companies have initiatives like this because it is highly effective and customers find it valuable,” he said. “This is just one example of NHS’s initiative to find effective tools and processes that are used outside the health care industry to be more accessible to our customers and community, as well as improve overall service at NHS. This is the first of many to come.”

Stout also noted that this news service would be able to provide timely information in the event of major events, such as weather.

Follow NHS on Facebook and Twitter to see the latest stories as they’re posted.

NHS Raises Awareness about Alzheimer’s disease

More than three million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) every year which accounts for 60-70% of dementia cases. Dementia is a term that means memory loss and/or issues with the brain’s thought process. At Northeastern Health System, we believe our mission includes education and awareness about disease and the disease processes.

The most common sign of early stages of AD is difficulty remembering recent events. Other signs and symptoms are:

  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words or spoken or written
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdraw from work or social activities and changes in mood or personality

There are tests and tools that can help diagnose the causes of AD such as: researching medical history, physical and diagnostic testing, genetic testing, neurological testing, mental status testing and brain imaging.

“AD is a terrible disease that ravages our aging society,” said Kay Johnson, Solutions Supervisor. “There is a stigma that prevents an approach to early prevention so we need to be proactive. Although there is no cure this does not mean that there is no treatment.”

Research shows that you can lower your risk of being diagnosed with AD by continual stimulation of your brain by learning new things as you age. Engaging in group activities is essential. Taking classes, learning a new language, solving a puzzle or playing a musical instrument to name a few, are all great ways to ensure brain stimulation.

Research indicates that pharmaceutical drugs and consumption of vitamin E which has antioxidant properties that have been known to help protect brain cells. There is no cure for AD at this time, but early diagnoses and treatment are the best ways to stay on top of this disease.

NHS Supports National Wear Red Day and the Go Red for Women Campaign

Wear Red DayThe American Heart Association decided to take action and declare February National Heart Month due to heart disease claiming the lives of thousands of American women every year.   The theme is geared towards raising awareness by educating the female population on the tell-tale signs of heart disease and also helps women learn how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

“Heart disease knows no boundaries,” said Dr. Guinnip, M.D. Cardiothoracic Surgeon. “More than a decade ago, the AHA discovered that heart disease killed more women than men. This is why it is crucial for the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center to keep our community informed about the advancements.”

Our goal here at Northeastern Health System is to bring our staff as well as our community together to become advocates for women and the fight against heart disease. NHS will participate in the 2016 National Wear Red Day Friday, February 5 and we want to invite and encourage you to sport your favorite red clothing item in the name of the Go Red for Women Campaign.

“By wearing red, we can help raise awareness of cardiovascular disease,” said Amy Williams, Vice President of System Clinical Operations. “It is never too early to take initiative and protect your health. This month, help us fight this epidemic and continue to create a healthier community.”

If you have not already, please remember to like our Facebook page, Northeastern Health System, to keep up with the latest NHS news and events. You can also follow our Twitter account, @NHSTahlequah to view our health tweets and participate in our 2016 Marketing & Media campaign.

Tahlequah Hospital Foundation Hosts 11th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala
Adley Stump, entertainer, sings the National Anthem

Adley Stump, entertainer, sings the National Anthem

The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation hosted their 11th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala Saturday, January 16th. The event brought together over 600 supporters, sponsors and staff to celebrate the efforts of the 900 employees who make Northeastern Health System a health system to be proud of. Olivia Jordan, Miss USA 2015-2016, emceed the event while special guests Joette Berry, Adley Stump, Grady Nichols and Emerald City Band provided “Grammy Awards” like entertainment.

The evening is centered on an award ceremony recognizing six outstanding individuals that truly exemplify what it means to be committed to health care and to this community. Their work and dedication to the people they serve has left a lasting influence on Tahlequah and showcases the best of NHS.  Beth Herrington received the Dr. Mary Culver-Carlile Lifetime Achievement award for her contribution to the community and her profession. The Thompson Award was given to Gary Harrington and Mike Watkins for the important roles they played in the development of Tahlequah’s healthcare advancement. The Heart of Gold award was given to Christine Wofford for her outstanding dedication to the Tahlequah Hospital Auxiliary department. The McIntosh, Masters and Medearis award was given to Dr. Tom and Dr. Donna Schneider for their exceptional clinical excellence to our community.

Brian Woodliff, President and CEO of NHS, shared the 2015 milestones with the crowd. The hospital’s system operating margin was the highest in their history, establishing the institution as a $240 million dollar non-profit organization. Because of this stability, NHS has the capabilities of investing in resources and care for the primary health burdens of the community that most rural communities go without such as: heart disease, cancer and kidney disease. Additionally, Woodliff announced new full-time services established to address common health issues in gastroenterology, critical care and pulmonology. Lastly, he thanked the crowd for their continued support that has made a difference in the lives of patients, especially those who are unable to help themselves. In 2015, NHS provided over $20 million in uncompensated care to those who may have otherwise gone without. In conclusion, Woodliff thanked the crowd for their continued support allowing the Foundation to provide over $198,000 in 2015 in aid to those pursuing a career in healthcare.

“Talent comes at a cost,” stated Brian Woodliff, President and CEO of NHS. “The Gala attendees support ensures that we remain competitive, attracting the healthcare professionals needed to provide the latest and most advanced care for our patients.”

The Foundation is already planning the 2017 Hearts of Gold Gala to continue to celebrate and support the innovations that NHS will achieve in 2016.

NHS Hosts Community Collaborative Meeting
Julie Potts, Director of Performance Improvement leads Community Collaborative meeting

Julie Potts, Director of Performance Improvement leads Community Collaborative meeting

The Northeastern Health System Community Collaborative Coalition was established in 2012 with the goal of uniting the hospital and local healthcare agencies quarterly to discuss patient needs. The group includes a transdisciplinary team of doctors, nursing, hospital administrators and discharge planners as well as representatives from local hospice agencies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and durable medical equipment companies. The group gathers to communicate new healthcare innovations, service lines, providers and regulatory changes.

“NHS aims to eliminate the communication gap in patient care,” said Donna Dallis, Vice President of Patient Care. “It is not about the individual organization, it is about the quality of care provided to our patients and families.”

The group’s topics included conversations regarding changes within healthcare and how they resolve to work together on the barriers to smooth transitions between providers.

“I am thrilled about the statistics that were reported at this month’s meeting,” said Caleb Turner, attendee. “It is motivating to know that the efforts from each individual entity represented the staff are paying off.”

An additional aspect of the coalition is to identify and discuss current hospital readmissions. A readmission is considered an inpatient admission within 30-days of previous hospital inpatient discharge. The goal of the group is to research and understand what causes the readmission to occur and to assist patients with community resources that will help them to remain independent after hospitalization.

“Our readmission numbers have dropped 6 percent in the last 3 years,” said Julie Potts, Director of Performance Improvement. “This is a commendable testimony to the work this group has been doing.”

NHS aspires to be the regional healthcare provider of choice. This coalition is one additional avenue on the road to success.

For more information regarding Community Collaborative call Julie Potts, Performance Improvement Director at 918 – 453 – 2360.

NHS Executive Team Meets with Senator James Lankford
Jerry Cook Director of Community, Government, and University Relations, Julie Ward Vice President of Finance, Jim Berry Hospital Administrator & Executive Vice President of NHS, James Lankford OK Senator, Brian Woodliff President & CEO of NHS, Phyllis Smith Vice President of Human Resources, Donna Dallis Vice President of Patient Care, Mark McCroskey Vice President of Operations.

Jerry Cook Director of Community, Government, and University Relations, Julie Ward Vice President of Finance, Jim Berry Hospital Administrator & Executive Vice President of NHS, James Lankford OK Senator, Brian Woodliff President & CEO of NHS, Phyllis Smith Vice President of Human Resources, Donna Dallis Vice President of Patient Care, Mark McCroskey Vice President of Operations.

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford met with Northeastern Health System’s executive team to discuss an overview of the current state of rural health in OK since the law passing of Obamacare in 2010. While there is a well-known concern for healthcare spending it cannot be paid for by small and rural hospitals in the communities they care for.

Administration discussed potential cuts within the 340b Pharmacy Program which is a program that reduces drug costs to qualified health care organizations or covered entities. These pharmaceutical savings are passed on to patients.

The team spent considerable time discussing future reimbursement models as the government moves healthcare from fee for service to population/preventative reimbursement. Population/preventative reimbursement would provide a single annual fee per patient and all of the payment for service would come from that annual fee. It is called capitation because there is a cap on payment. This plan has the potential to hinder both healthier patients as well as the ill. A patient whom rarely receives care if any at all is still paying the full amount to be insured whereas the ill person such as a cancer patient has reached the cap amount of insurance and will not be fully covered for further treatment and future visits.

“Senator Lankford was keenly aware of most of the issues discussed,” said Jim Berry, NHS Administrator and Executive Vice President. “It is refreshing to have our US senator so conscious of this plight.”

A lack of funding to cover the costs for both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health was brought to Senator Lankford’s attention. A negative stigma still exists today when it comes to mental health. Many do not realize that mental health is linked to the effects of other physical illnesses.

For questions or concerns contact Jeff Underwood, northeast Oklahoma Field Representative at jeff_underwood@lankford.senate.gov

Foundation to Host 11th Annual Gala

Gala 15The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation is proud to be hosting the Eleventh Annual Hearts of Gold Gala. It is a time to celebrate, socialize and recognize awardees, but primarily a time to raise money to support the mission of Northeastern Health System. The funds provide educational scholarships for employees pursuing healthcare careers, help offset the cost of capital purchases and keep NHS equipped with the latest cutting edge technology. Sponsored by the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center, the gala will showcase the hospital’s growth over the last year as well as honor several individuals who have made a significant impact on the Tahlequah community.

“We are grateful to all of those who make the evening possible,” said Gary Chapman, the Chairman of the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation. “It is a very special evening and it is humbling to see such a grand show of support from our foundation members, donors and members of the community whose generosity will help us enhance and sustain our hospital for generations to come.”

The four awards given at the ceremony are the Heart of Gold Award, the McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award, the Thompson Award and the Mary Carlile Lifetime Achievement Award. The Heart of Gold award is given to recognize an outstanding individual who volunteers their time for the NHS Auxiliary department. The McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award is given to physicians who demonstrate exceptional clinical excellence for our community. The Thompson Award is given to an individual who has played an important role in the development of Tahlequah’s healthcare advancement. The Mary Carlile Lifetime Achievement Award is given from time to time to an individual who has contributed a lifetime of commitment to our community and their profession.

“The dedication, commitment and generosity of these that attend have been and will be the driving force behind the Foundation,” said Brain Woodliff, President and CEO of Northeastern Health System. “This tremendous amount of their support enables our NHS team to provide the highest quality of care every single day.”

For ticket purchases contact Erielle Stout at 918-453-2105 or estout@nhs-ok.org.

NHS Volunteer Wins State Award

Anne CottrillThe Hospital Volunteers of Oklahoma recently recognized 15 volunteers from across the state as 2015 Volunteers with Spirit. The awards were presented during the Hospital Volunteer Day Luncheon at the Oklahoma Hospital Association Annual Convention on Nov. 4th.

The award was given to hospital volunteers who exemplify the spirit of service and have a passion for the work they do for their organizations. Volunteers with Spirit winners have been recognized for their inspirational attitude and efforts to their local hospital auxiliaries. Each volunteer auxiliary at Oklahoma hospitals was given the opportunity to choose one person for the award.

Northeastern Health System Volunteer with Spirit was Anne Cottrill. As the Auxiliary President, Cottrill spends countless hours overseeing operations, managing the volunteers and supporting the community. She leads her team with wisdom and humor. She is an irreplaceable member of the Auxiliary Board.

“The Auxiliary and its devoted members allow NHS to fulfill our mission of providing unsurpassed excellence in healthcare each day,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Anne’s passion for others is evident by the way she leads the Auxiliary. I am thankful for Volunteers like Anne that give countless hours of their time to ensure the success of NHS.”

NHS Names Physicians to Anesthesiology Staff

NHS Names Physicians to Anesthesiology Staff

Northeastern Health System has announced the addition of Dr. Clorinda Robles and Dr. Mark Haltherman to its active medical staff.

This husband-and-wife team will be providing anesthesia services and call coverage, including cardiovascular cases.

Together, they bring over 25 years of experience in anesthesia to NHS.

Robles graduated with a bachelor’s of science, chemistry and biology from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida and earned her Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Miami. She completed her residency in anesthesiology at Boston University Medical Center and a fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Robles is originally from Nicaragua and is fluent in Spanish.

Halterman graduated with a bachelor’s in biology from Oral Roberts University and earned his master’s in anatomy from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Oklahoma College Medicine. Halterman completed an internship in the Department of Surgery at Georgetown University and did his residency in anesthesia at Boston University Medical Center.

“These anesthesiologists are the epitome of what we look for when recruiting physicians,” said Dr. Adele King, Chief of Anesthesia. “Their passion to render superior quality anesthesia care is extraordinary.”

Halterman enjoys golfing, playing tennis, snow skiing, traveling and listening to music.

Robles enjoys ballroom dancing, traveling, studying foreign languages and gourmet cooking. The couple also enjoys spending time with their two children, Alexander and Gabrielle.

Robles enjoys ballroom dancing, traveling, studying foreign languages and gourmet cooking. The couple also enjoys spending time with their two children, Alexander and Gabrielle.

Dr. Champlain Celebrates 20 Years of Medical Practice

NHS14-1401Recently, Dr. Wallace Champlain celebrated his 20 year anniversary of medical practice in Tahlequah. Dr. Champlain began his career in Tahlequah by delivering his daughter, Kalie, 20 years ago. He has continued to welcome newborns into the world ever since.

Dr. Champlain’s interest in medicine began as a student at Stilwell High School. He went on to graduate from Northeastern State University and then received his Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine from Oklahoma State University in 1979. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Detroit Osteopathic Hospital and the Bi-County Community Hospital. After working in family practices, he began his specialty in OB/GYN in Grand Prairie and Arlington, Texas. He later moved to Tahlequah and says he considers Tahlequah his home.

He is passionate about what he does and realizes the importance of his work to patients. He treats each patient with the same compassion that he would give a member of his family. Dr. Champlain enjoys spending time with his family; his wife of 27 years, Marge, and their five children and eight grandchildren. Dr. Champlain’s love for medicine has continued on with three of his daughters, Tyler and Tamarkia, who are fulfilling roles as Registered Nurses and Kalie who is currently a medical student at the University of Oklahoma.

“As a society, we need to do everything in our power to ensure women are in charge of their own lives and pursuit of happiness,” said Champlain. “I enjoy making a difference in people’s lives.”

Northeastern Health System’s Administration team agrees that Dr. Champlain’s desire to make a difference does not go unnoticed by his co-workers and patients. His lasting influence on the community was recognized last year at the Hearts of Gold Gala.

“In 2014 Dr. Champlain was honored by The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation Board with the McIntosh, Masters and Medearis Award for his outstanding commitment to the Tahlequah community,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Northeastern Health System feels privileged to have physicians like Dr. Wallace Champlain on their medical team.”

Dr. Champlain plans to continue his practice in Tahlequah and hopes to someday travel to different parts of the world.

NHS participates in My Tahlequah

My Tahlequah FBNortheastern Health System is a business centered on wellness with patient’s health being their number one priority. Stretching beyond the practice of medicine, NHS is also committed to the betterment of the community that so many of their employees call home. The leadership team continually encourages their staff to take part in helping the community outside the hospital setting.

Saturday, October 24 seventy-five NHS employees teamed up to lend a helping hand in the My Tahlequah event. NHS was tasked with the clean-up of the Town Branch Creek starting at Downing Street Bridge and ending at Smith Street. Roughly, 20 trash bags were filled including various metals, mattresses, syringes and other debris. After close to 6 hours of labor the beautification of the creek was a success.

“If there was one thing the 75 Northeastern Health System team members learned from the My Tahlequah Event, it was not to take the beauty of the community for granted,” stated Jim Berry, Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator.

Working together to improve the condition of the city, the participants also strengthened the relationships among their fellow coworkers. NHS looks forward to supporting events, like My Tahlequah, that are geared toward the betterment of the community.

NHS Celebrates National EMS Week

IMG_7599There’s nothing quite as alarming as the blaring siren of an ambulance or fire truck fast approaching. Whether you’re in your car or safely in your home, knowing that someone, somewhere, may be in a life-threatening situation automatically increases our level of alertness.

Simultaneously, that siren is also reassuring; we are relieved to know that the “right” people are rushing to whoever is in distress. We count on the professionals in the ambulances, fire trucks and medevac helicopters to get to the scene quickly and to know what to do in a thousand different scenarios — and, thankfully, they do.

In 1973, President Gerald Ford authorized a week to be set aside in May as a way to celebrate Emergency Medical Services (EMS), its practitioners and the important work they do while responding to medical emergencies. This past week, May 17th through the 23rd, was celebrated nationwide as Emergency Medical Services Week. Northeastern Health System (NHS) celebrated the week with their EMS staff on Tuesday at a ‘hog fry’ luncheon. David Carroll prepared the pig for his staff, EagleMed contributed the sides and the Executive Team of NHS brought the desserts.

David Carroll, EMS Director at NHS, talked about why the week is important to participate in each year for his staff. “It’s very appropriate that we set aside a week every year to recognize the dedicated EMS staff who are the front line responders to accidents, emergencies and disasters in our community. These individuals stand ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

“Among the things we often take for granted in regard to our health is those who respond to emergencies,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Our EMS staff is a key component of the medical care continuum we provide at NHS. Providing a luncheon to show appreciation and gratitude for the life-saving care they provide to our patients is the least we can do.”

Residency Program Receives Additional 5 Year Accreditation

Pneumonia CareAn excellent curriculum, superb faculty, and the perfect balance of autonomy and supervision are the keys to an outstanding residency education program. Northeastern Health System’s (NHS) graduate medical students, called residents, benefit from the cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic and religious diversity from the community of Tahlequah. As a full service community hospital, NHS provides a comprehensive residency program for future family medicine and internal medicine physicians instilling confidence and skills to provide exceptional care in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Rural areas can suffer from significant shortages of primary care physicians. According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), of the 2,050 rural counties, 1,562 (77%) include primary care health professional shortage areas. The Internal Medicine Residency Programs and Family Medicine, a partnership between NHS and the Cherokee Nation, are important tools to both of the hospitals in addressing those physician shortages in Cherokee County. Because physicians often choose to practice in settings similar to their residency experience, NHS and W.W. Hastings alike have had the opportunity to recruit residents during their time at the hospitals to secure them as physicians upon graduation. The program has proven this fact to be true; 3 out of the 4 residents graduating from the residency programs this year have signed contracts with the local hospitals or clinics.

The Internal Medicine Residency Program has completed a mandatory comprehensive survey and received an AOA accreditation for an additional 5 years.

“We have an unopposed program; caring and attentive attending physicians, specialists available for consults; and a patient population with severe, chronic issues, and unique pathology,” said Dr. Elaine Ramos, Internal Medicine Residency Program Director. “These needs are met by placing residents on our hospital’s units. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue not only the program, but the heightened care to our patients for an additional 5 years.”

After reviewing applications and going through interview processes with potential medical students, the Family Medicine Residency Program has invited 4 new graduate medical students to begin the program this summer and the Internal Medicine Residency Program has invited 5 medical students.

“Having resident in Tahlequah stirs the healthcare process at both hospitals. Our primary goal is to ensure the residents are well prepared physicians who receive a first rate educational experience,” stated Dr. Doug Nolan, Family Medicine Residency Director. “Ideally, the physicians trained in this program will choose to practice in Tahlequah.”

“We are very proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our residents,” said Jim Berry, Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator. “We strive for excellence in everything we do at Northeastern Health System Tahlequah. Training great doctors who in turn provide quality care are of the utmost importance to us.”

Hospital Bids Farewell to Turney as a Board Member

123It is with sadness that Northeastern Health System announces the ‘end-of-term’ farewell to Mr. Maurice Turney from the Tahlequah Hospital Authority (THA) Board of Trustees. Not only has he been an essential part of the backbone of the hospital, he has served the hospital selflessly for the past four years. His departure will leave NHS, as well as the community, with a sizeable hole to fill.

Since his induction to the THA Board in 2011, Turney has given the hospital priceless amounts of wisdom and countless hours of service as well as exemplified word Trustee. Brian Woodliff, NHS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President, said “it is due to his character, intellect and his service to the hospital and to the community that he is described in this fashion.”

When asked to name a few projects that he takes pride in during his time on the Board, Turney noted “the ability for the hospital to provide scholarships to its employees and help with student loan payments; the grand opening of the Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center; and most recently, staffing all emergency board certified physicians in the Emergency Room.”

“Maurice Turney is a community servant. For a short time, we were privileged to bear witness to his passion, ‘Tahlequah’,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “His countless contributions, leadership and steadfast commitment to both have made Northeastern Health System stronger and created a lasting legacy that will be difficult to fill,”

Gary Harrington, THA Chairman, found his self extremely fortunate to have Turney on the Board with him with the past four years.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have served with the type of leader Maurice is,” stated Harrington. “He has led transformative change in our local healthcare landscape, with an unwavering focus on NHS delivering the best care to the community. His efforts to ensure THA’s financial strength and to establish close relationships with our community will benefit THA for years to come.”

A farewell reception was held on May 7th at NHS in honor of Mr. Turney’s four years of dedication and service. The reception was well attended by Board members, Foundation members and hospital employees to show their gratitude for his service to the hospital. Brian Woodliff, CEO and President, expressed his gratefulness to Maurice with kind remarks and the presentation of a plaque as a token of appreciation. Mr. Turney’s position will be filled by a city council member in weeks to come.

Changing Lives One Community Member at a Time

Habitat-for-Humanity-Logo-Uwlax_edu_As a basic necessity, shelter is linked directly to good health. According to Habitat for Humanity, there are nearly 2 billion people around the world who live in slum housing and more than 100 million are homeless. Habitat for Humanity’s International vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. To that end, NHS supports the vision of Habitat for Humanity.
“The social need for Habitat for Humanity remains unchallenged,” stated Director of Patient Financial Services (PFS), Darecca Jensen. “Habitat utilizes limited resources and hard volunteer work to build safe and affordable housing to low-income families. Our hospital wants to be a part of the hard work that goes into changing the lives of community member’s one community member at a time.”
The PFS department has taken on the challenge of organizing the NHS team and has been working diligently with Habitat for Humanity since last year on their upcoming May project. The PFS department has created opportunities for all hospital employees to participate, from donating to volunteering time on the job site. For instance, PFS has begun creating baskets that are themed for specific rooms of the home and challenged other department to fill the baskets with objects for those rooms. The Plant Operations and Maintenance team has joined in the efforts by building a custom child bed for the family that will be living in the home.
“With limited free time in a demanding fast paced world, volunteering competes with personal time and goals,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “I am proud of the staff member’s that have challenged themselves to devote some of that free time toward improving our community, and hope it inspires others to do the same.”

NHS Offers Safe Sitter Course

safesitterlogoOur world is a complicated place. Today’s babysitters need to know more than just the basics to keep themselves and the children in their care safe. That’s why Safe Sitter has developed an up-to-date medically based and well-rounded youth development program teaches young teens life safety skills. It also equips them to stay home alone safely and with confidence.

Northeastern Health System is a Registered Safe Sitter® Teaching Site and now offers the comprehensive training program for young teens (11-14). To be a card carrying Safe Sitter, students must pass a rigorous practical and written test that indicates their mastery of key concepts and life safety skills. NHS just recently held its first Safe Sitter Course on April 25th and successfully graduated 14 young teens from the program.

“Injuries are the leading cause of death in children up to age 5. Safe Sitter® aims to reduce the number of avoidable and unintentional deaths among children being cared for by young teens,” stated Safe Sitter Course Instructor, Suzanne Lovell, BSN, RN. “The program follows American Heart Association standards as well as instruction in first aid techniques from the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

The nationally-recognized program was developed by an Indianapolis Pediatrician, Dr. Patricia Keener, after a colleague’s toddler choked to death while in the care of an adult sitter who didn’t know what actions to take. Students who complete the Safe Sitter® program gain confidence and learn how, why, and where common injuries can take place so they can be prevented. They learn how a child’s age affects how to care for them, how to prevent problem behavior, how to run their own babysitting business, as well as issues of online and cellphone safety.

“Safe Sitter improves safety and the welfare of young children by increasing the availability of young adolescents instructed in childcare techniques,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “I believe that this program enhances the lives of young adolescents by providing the opportunity to acquire competencies in rescue skills, basic first aid and nurturing, safe childcare techniques.”

For more information about Northeastern Health System’s Safe Sitter Courses contact Suzanne Lovell at 918-458-2463.

Northeastern Health System-Tahlequah Enhances Patient & Employee Safety

post3Northeastern Health System (NHS)-Tahlequah is improving safety for both patients and EMT workers alike with the installation of Power-LOAD cot fastening system in every ambulance.

Power-LOAD is the first system of its kind in the United States that meets dynamic crash test standards to maximize ambulance occupant safety. Created by the Michigan-based company Stryker, the power loading system will lift the patient cot into the ambulance, with minimal assistance from the EMT.

“The system will improve the dynamics of loading and unloading patients into our ambulances,” stated Emergency Medical Services Director, David Caroll. “The hydraulic lift is capable of lifting patients weighing up to 700lbs with the touch of a button; greatly enhancing the safety of not only our patients, but our EMTs as well.”

NHS-Tahlequah’s highest priority is the health of their patients and hospital staff. This is why the hospital is consistently offering cutting-edge medical services and technology. It is the hospital’s belief that Power-LOAD will allow for the reduction of job-related injuries that EMT crews might experience, as well as enhance the efficiency of the staff to provide unsurpassed excellence in healthcare to their patients.

“We are confident that the Power-LOAD system will decrease strenuous injuries that EMTs can experience while working in their field,” stated Executive Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Jim Berry. “Implementing the Power-LOAD system to all of the hospital’s ambulances is a step in the right direction not only for patient safety, but for employee safety as well.”

By Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

Dr. Mary Carlile to Retire

carlileDr. Mary Carlile, a staple of the Inpatient Rehabilitation team at Northeastern Health System (NHS)-Tahlequah, has announced her retirement effective November 30, 2014.

Dr. Carlile’s resignation caps a remarkable medical career that includes 26 years of dedication and service to Rehabilitation Services; 3 of those years serving the Tahlequah community at NHS-Tahlequah.

Dr. Carlile graduated from the College of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma and completed her residency at Baylor University Medical Center. Her career path started as an associate at the Rehabilitation Consults of Texas and has continued to flourish over the years.

Giving of her time and knowledge to countless professional organizations is something that Dr. Carlile’s biographical sketch accounts for. Belonging to over 23 organizations, 7 of which she holds respected positions; Dr. Carlile believes in giving back to the profession she loves dearly.

You can find numerous awards associated with Dr. Carlile’s name, including: ‘Best Doctors in Dallas,’ ‘Texas Super Doctor’ as well as belonging to the 2007-2009 and 2011-2012 ‘Best Doctors in America’ category. These honors are linked to Dr. Carlile because of her commitment to providing unsurpassed excellence in Rehabilitation Care.

Patients and co-workers alike have an admiration for Dr. Carlile and her passion for healthcare.

“Dr. Carlile goes above her call of duty and strives to make a difference in every patient she sees,” stated Sharon Cox, Director of Inpatient Rehab. “I have learned a great deal from Dr. Carlile during her time here at NHS. She will be greatly missed.”

During her tenure in Tahlequah Dr. Carlile was instrumental in developing rehab services for the Inpatient Rehab Unit at NHS-Tahlequah.

“Dr. Carlile’s quest for excellence has been unparalleled and has shaped our Inpatient Rehab services as we know it,” stated Brian Woodliff, CEO of NHS-Tahlequah. “Passionate providers like Dr. Carlile allow NHS-Tahlequah to be the region’s healthcare provider of choice. She is a fixture at NHS-Tahlequah and her presence will be missed.”

By: Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

American Osteopathic College of Anesthesiologist Honors Dr. Adele King

asdfasdThe field of medicine often acknowledges scientific and technical expertise while overlooking the art of the relationship-centered and compassionate care. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation understands that in order to be a complete doctor, both science and humanism must be fostered. Each year the Gold Foundation honors physicians with awards that seek to elevate those humanistic qualities essential to good doctoring: integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and service.

In recognition of her dedication to compassionate patient care Adele King, D.O. has been honored with the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award. This prestigious award was presented at this year’s annual convention of the American Osteopathic College of Anesthesiologists (AOCA).

Dr. King’s philosophy about medicine is to “treat all people with dignity and respect” and what she enjoys most about practicing medicine is “caring for people in their times of emotional and physical need.”

Dr. King trained at Kansas City Osteopathic Hospital and completed her residency at Kansas City Osteopathic Medical University of Health Sciences. Dr. King has worked in both Kansas City and Oklahoma and is presently the Director of Anesthesia services at NHS-Tahlequah. She has been involved in multiple committees and boards at the local, state and national level as well as traveling the country to lecture extensively on many topics. Since 1990, she has served on the Board of Examiners for the AOCA, served 10 years on the AOCA Board of Governors and in 1997 was installed as their first female president. She has received many distinguished service awards, including recognition from the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association and Drury University. In 2009, NHS had the honor of awarding Dr. King the Masters, McIntosh and Medearis Award at the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation’s Hearts of Gold Gala.

“A talented medical professional that demands the highest quality of care, Dr. King is a well deserving recipient of this prestigious award,” stated Brian Woodliff, President and CEO of Northeastern Health System. “It is a privilege to have someone of Dr. King’s experience and compassion working at our hospital. By carrying out the mission, vision and value of NHS-Tahlequah, Dr. King exemplifies to our patients and employees why we are the regions healthcare provider of choice. “

By: Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

NHS-Tahlequah offers Mammography Special

1 (5)2In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, Northeastern Health System-Tahlequah is offering mammograms for a flat fee of $75. The focus of this annual effort is to educate women, and those who love them, about the important benefits of early breast cancer detection.

Women must be at least 40 years of age and have a signed physicians order to participate in this special. For patient convenience, appointments can be made by calling (918)772-4588 Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Unfortunately, too many women fail to receive their annual mammography screenings,” said Misty Branan, NHS-Tahlequah mammography technician. “In some cases, this can be attributed to a lack of education. There are still some people who do not understand the importance of mammography in early breast cancer detection. Other women avoid the annual tests because they are afraid; scared that the test itself will hurt or afraid of receiving possible bad news.”

The messages for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month are important:

  • Early detection saves lives.
  • Mammography screening is the single most effective method of early detection.
  • An annual mammogram is recommended for all women over 40 years of age.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally feel and should report any changes to their health care provider.
  • Breast self-examinations (monthly from age 20) and clinical examinations (at least every three years from age 20 to 35, and annually from age 40 and up) should be a part of regular breast health screenings.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women,” said Todd Shafer, Director of Radiology. “Finding a tumor at its earliest stages and getting appropriate treatment not only provides the best chance of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis, but also provides the broadest range of effective treatment options.”

In addition to the inherited higher risk from a “breast cancer” gene, a number of other risk factors have been identified. These risk factors may be a good point of discussion for women to outline a breast cancer screening plan with their health provider, but a lack of risk factors does not mean that women will not develop breast cancer. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer have none of these risk factors, so it’s still important to receive regular breast cancer screenings.

Estrogen-Related Risk Factors:

  • Having an early first period (before the age of 12)
  • Having a late first pregnancy (after age 25 or 35)
  • Having no children
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Use of oral contraceptives has not been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.

Risk Factors Your Can Change:

  • High fat intakes – eat leaner meats and limit intake of saturated or hydrogenated fats.
  • Low fiber intake – increase consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake – eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • High alcohol intakes – abstain from drinking or drink in moderation (less than two drinks per day).
  • Sedentary lifestyle – stay active, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most, if not all, days; maintain a healthy weight.
  • Smoking – enroll in a smoking cessation program or research over-the-counter aids to quit on your own.

By Erielle Buckmaster

ebuckmaster@nhs-ok.org

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