Tag Archives: nurse

New Technology

December 8, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Dr. Manju Hapke finished medical school more than 40 years ago in India, the latest technology at her school was an X-ray machine.

Since then, the CHI Health Clinic physician completed residencies at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens and the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

Hapke has worked in Omaha as a family medicine physician for more than 20 years. During that time, the doctor has seen lots of technological changes, especially in the field of diagnostics.

“We used to solely rely on a physical exam,” Hapke says. “That’s how we made our diagnoses. Now we have such good diagnoses thanks to scans and other diagnostics.”

Dr. Paul Paulman, a professor with the UNMC Department of Family Medicine and a primary care physician, agrees that diagnostics have come a long way, especially in the last five years.

“The radiologists and other imaging professionals have really improved imaging technology,” Paulman says. “Ultrasound is becoming bedside now.”

That is good news, especially in pediatrics. One common use of ultrasound in pediatrics is for appendicitis, which affects 70,000 children in the United States annually.

While ultrasound is leading the way in imaging technology, faster, more compact CT scans and MRIs may not be far behind.

“Pictures are getting sharper, so they can hone in on areas [of the body],” Paulman says. “It’s an area that is constantly improving as computers get faster.”

Ultimately, Hapke is most excited to see what direction diagnostics will take in the future. “I think at some point what will happen is that a patient will walk into a room with equipment and when they walk out we will have all sorts of details about their organs and how they’re functioning. It will be like a diagnostic walkthrough.”

Until that day comes, Hapke has found a technological way to enhance her patients’ care while eliminating some time on data entry.

“I was one of the first physicians who launched the use of Google Glass in Omaha,” Hapke says.

Google Glass is an electronic device that connects to the internet. When it appeared on the scene in 2013, the tech community initially touted it as the next great advancement. The high price point and imbedded camera ultimately resulted in few people using the device, but in July 2017, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced that Google Glass 2.0 is coming—this time geared to specific professions, including medicine.

Around the same time as the first Google Glass arrived, regulations on electronic health records became stricter, causing doctors to spend more time on data entry and less time with patients. Hapke realized that by using Google Glass, she could look at her patients, not a computer screen, during a visit.

“There’s so much information the patient gives you with their expressions that you just don’t get through the words,” she says.

A child, especially, might mention having a “tummy ache,” but point at their lower right portion of the abdomen where the appendix resides.

Google Glass works in conjunction with a remote human scribe. The scribe can see and hear the doctor and patient. The doctor must verify and approve the notes that the scribe took during the visit; the notes do not become permanent until the doctor gives the OK.

The scribe can also deliver information to the doctor in real time during the patient visit.

“When you do it in real time, you get a lot more of the information down. When you depend on your memory, you will forget half of it. Google Glass enables me to get both information and cues from the patient,” she says.

According to Hapke, the other advantage is the patient can hear what she is telling the scribe. She asks the patient if he/she understands what’s being said, which helps encourage the patient to ask questions.

Hapke can also have her scribe look up information electronically in the patient’s chart. So if she wants to know the results of a particular test or procedure, the information is available immediately.

“It’s like I have an assistant with me all the time. Because we only have so much time to be with each patient, this helps me maximize my interactions. I can practice old-fashioned medicine with good bedside manner but at the same time have state-of-the-art results at my fingertips,” Hapke says.

She’s been using the technology for about two years and estimates it saves her about 20 hours a week.

Hapke finds keeping up with new procedures and technology easy, especially since she loves to read and admits to being fascinated with medicine.

“It’s not that hard to keep up in this day and age. I am more impressed with my forefathers and how they kept up with everything, and how they advanced medicine to where it is today,” she says. 

Visit chihealth.com for more information.

This article was originally printed in the Winter 2018 edition of Family Guide.

Meet the Winners!

April 23, 2015 by

Oncology
Cheryl Bohacek 
RN, MSN, OCN, Oncology Nurse
Methodist Hospital

Cheryl Bohacek remembers early on in her nursing career caring for a young woman with cancer who was dying. A group of the patient’s closest friends came to her room, opened a bottle of wine, reminisced, laughed, and cried with her. Then her husband came, laid down beside her and spent his final moments with his wife. It became a life-altering experience for Bohacek.

“I realized that I was not just passing medications, but I was a part of peoples’ lives,” she says. “I was caring for them during their most vulnerable moments, and I got to help them and their families get through it.”

Something touched Bohacek’s spirit that day, and she has never wanted to care for another type of patient population since.

“You become deeply vested in their outcomes, whether it’s by helping them through recovery, helping them deal with something they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives, or helping them cope with end of life,” says Bohacek, who finds her profession very rewarding.

She balances the good days with the bad by always trying to start each day with a positive attitude.

“Even if you don’t feel good inside, if you keep smiling and have a positive outlook it presents a different feeling on the outside…and pretty soon, it becomes reality,” she says.

And it appears to be working. “Cheryl is our constant rock,” says one of her colleagues. “While many of my colleagues have burned out in oncology, Cheryl is always shining. She is the heart and soul of our oncology unit. She always greets people with a warm smile, and her presence is a calming reassurance to both patients and staff.”

 

Cardiovascular
Bridget Boeckman
RN, BSN, Staff Nurse, Cardiac Progressive Care Unit and Nebraska Biocontainment Unit
Nebraska Medicine

How do you handle stress and the emotional toll nursing can have on your life?

“I have some wonderful coworkers who are always supportive, comforting, and kind. Because we have had the opportunity to get to know each other well, we know just what each of us needs to get us through the tough days—be it a hug, some dark humor, tough love, or a break from our phone to eat lunch without interruption. We also hold each other accountable for caring for ourselves and celebrate each others’ lives outside of work. We have a Facebook group of nurses and care techs from our floor, which is a great forum for inviting each other to dinner after work, running in the park, or a day at the zoo. It is a great way to share parts of our lives outside of work through pictures and news posts. These are just a few ways I handle the stress of my job.”

Tell me about the importance of working as a team?

“I am glad to work on two units where teamwork is essential to our collective success and also ingrained in our culture. Often, it would be difficult to provide excellent care to our patients without the help of other staff members on our floor who assist with tasks large and small.”

 

Community Care/Ambulatory Care
Ira Combs
RN, MSN
UNMC, College of Public Health
Center for Reducing Health Disparities

Giving back to the community. It’s something Ira Combs does well. He’s the community liaison/nurse coordinator for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College (UNMC) of Public Health, Center for Reducing Health Disparities. Combs’ job is to connect with the community by performing health fairs, screenings, and providing public education.

Combs is founder of a free clinic called North Omaha Area Health (NOAH), an independent, non-profit organization which provides free blood pressure tests, sugar and cholesterol screenings, and screenings for STDs. He also volunteers with the staff at the Charles Drew Health Center, the Lighthouse Wellness and Community Center, and Open Door Mission He regularly speaks to students about reducing health disparities and exploring health related careers. Combs can be seen at schools, grocery stores, churches, libraries—wherever people convene—to deliver his message of living healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

“Building relationships is just as important as giving medical advice,” says Combs. “Before you can help people, you have to get out there and meet them and develop a trust.”

Combs says he tried to empower people with knowledge so that they can take control of their health. “It’s not brain surgery or rocket science. You can talk about small things that can have a big impact on a person’s health.”

Combs recently traveled to the White House, where he was one of eight selected for President Barack Obama’s Champion of Change award in prevention and public health.

“I like what I do because I feel it’s making a difference,” says Combs. “It’s all about giving back to the community.”

 

Management/Nurse Executive
Tracy Doebelin
RN, BSN, Director of Maternal Child
CHI Health Bergan Mercy

How do you handle stress and the emotional toll nursing can have on your life?

“I have some wonderful coworkers who are always supportive, comforting, and kind. Because we have had the opportunity to get to know each other well, we know just what each of us needs to get us through the tough days—be it a hug, some dark humor, tough love, or a break from our phone to eat lunch without interruption. We also hold each other accountable for caring for ourselves and celebrate each others’ lives outside of work. We have a Facebook group of nurses and care techs from our floor, which is a great forum for inviting each other to dinner after work, running in the park, or a day at the zoo. It is a great way to share parts of our lives outside of work through pictures and news posts. These are just a few ways I handle the stress of my job.”

Tell me about the importance of working as a team?

“I am glad to work on two units where teamwork is essential to our collective success and also ingrained in our culture. Often, it would be difficult to provide excellent care to our patients without the help of other staff members on our floor who assist with tasks large and small.”

 

School
Lindsey Gross-Rhode
RN, BSN, Healthcare Coordinator, Head Start
Plattsmouth School District
Early Childhood Center

Lindsey Gross-Rhode wears many hats at the Plattsmouth Early Childhood Center, where she is the health and nutrition manager. She also serves as the school nurse and participates on the Head Start Policy Council and the Cass County Health Advisory Board.

Gross-Rhode goes over and above the call of duty, say her colleagues. She makes home visits to ensure children have healthy living conditions. She provides food, clothing, and personal care supplies to low-income families. She coordinates with other agencies to intervene when a child’s living conditions are dangerous. And she finds healthcare for those that can’t afford it. In the classroom, she teaches these young, impressionable children healthy eating habits, the importance of exercise, good hygiene, and preventive health habits. She also promotes healthy living in her workplace by coaching her co-workers on diet and exercise.

“Every day I am trying to break that cycle of poverty and help these children get the best start possible,” says Gross-Rhode, who recently obtained a master’s in health promotion to support her new multi-dimensional roles.

Over the past two years, she has worked to better the Cass County Head Start health and nutrition program to ensure continued funding from state and federal resources. “Working in this setting is a very different type of nursing than the hospital,” she says. “I realize how important it is for students to be healthy in order to learn and grow. What I am doing now will have an impact on them for the rest of their lives.”

 

ER
Mary Jane Egan
RN, BSN, Flight Nurse, Charge Nurse, Emergency Department
LifeNet, Nebraska Medicine

What attracted you to trauma nursing?

“I never imagined being a trauma nurse until I spent six hours in Creighton’s emergency department while in nursing school.  A critically ill trauma patient arrived with a head injury. I was eager to help and was able to witness life-saving procedures right in front of me. I was amazed at the vast knowledge base the nurses and physicians had to care for in a wide range of ages and acuity. I was drawn to the fast-paced, adrenaline-filled atmosphere where you can perform a procedure to literally save someone’s life.”

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

“The most rewarding part of emergency nursing is witnessing life after a traumatic event. Seeing a patient making steps towards recovery and being successful is extremely rewarding. My patients are experiencing possibly the worst day of their life and they look to my partner and I for hope. The ultimate reward is providing a second chance to others and watching them overcome the challenges they are facing.”

What is the greatest challenge you face in your job?

“The greatest challenge I face is witnessing the end of someone’s life. In emergency nursing, I see violence, fear, but also acts of love. It is humbling, emotionally tolling.  Nurses are instantly a support for the family and friends of those who may be having the worst days of their lives. I have learned that simple acts of kindness can mean the world to others. I leave work finding myself thinking of those I have cared for, but also realize how thankful I am to have life.”

 

Pediatrics: Non-Neonatal
Anisa Hoie
RN, Oncology Nurse
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

“Sometimes there are things worse in life than death.” Those powerful words were spoken to Anisa Hoie by a physician colleague early in her nursing career. They were words that helped inspire her and cultivate a love for working with children and cancer.

“When I was in nursing school, one of the areas that I knew I didn’t want to work in was cancer,” she recalls. “I’m a cup half full sort of person and I thought this area would just be too depressing.”

But as Hoie became more exposed to this group of patients with her work on the medical/surgery floor, she soon learned that this was where her heart was. “These kids were living life and loving it,” she says. “They didn’t know they were supposed to be sick. These kids were going to be sick whether I was there to help them or not, so I decided that if I could be a part of their journey and make it a little bit better, then that would make it all worthwhile.”

Additionally, approximately 80 percent of these children will be long-term survivors whom Hoie says she gets to watch grow up and share in their life accomplishments.

Today, more than 30 years later, Hoie has become known by her patients, their families, and her colleagues on the cancer floor at Children’s Hospital as one that puts her heart and soul into every patient she encounters.

“I believe there’s a mission involved with nursing,” says Hoie. “You can make a difference in peoples’ lives, and sometimes that means it needs to be more than a job.”

 

Hospice/Home Health
Jennifer Kaluza
MSN, APRN, ANP-BC, Vascular Services
Nebraska medicine

What advice would you offer to patients?

“Ask a lot of questions and never settle for an easy answer. Always ask if there are alternatives to the treatment plan to make it more acceptable to your own goals and wishes. If a patient is active in decision-making and planning, they are more involved and more likely to follow the advice of their providers.”

What is your greatest challenge?

“Trying to balance my personal and work life. I am a lifelong learner and am always drawn to learning new things and working on new projects. As healthcare gets more complex and patients get sicker, it seems that every year we are asked to do more with less resources. I love the patients and families I work with, but it is very easy to work a lot of hours and not be fully present at home. I went to grad school when my children were just babies so that I would be able to be in a position to work standard day-shift hours and be able to spend quality time with them and my husband. As part of being a professional, I’ve had to learn how to stand up for myself. I found I was  in a position that was too demanding and my personal life was suffering. I had to make a change and find a position that stimulates me mentally and allows me to be a wife and mom.”

 

Acute Care/Family Practice
Jodeena M. Kempnich
MSN, RN, CNML, Advanced Nurse Administrator
CHI Health

Jodeena “Jody” Kempnich likes to think of herself as a change agent. She loves the nursing profession and is dedicated to helping the profession grow through education, research, and mentorship.

As a nurse administrator and member of the Research Council at CHI Health, Kempnich has had a significant impact in promoting research and the use of evidence-based practices by helping other nurses develop and strengthen their research skills. “When I was in nursing school, practicing nursing was often trial and error,” she explains. “That is not the case anymore. Through research, we can implement better nursing practices at the bedside by using evidence-based practices.”

Kempnich was recently awarded the Nursing Mentor Award by the Nebraska Organization of Nurse Leaders, an honor she is very proud to have. “I really enjoy mentoring other nurses and sharing my knowledge,” she says. “The nursing profession has a strong need to get younger nurses involved in leadership positions, and this is just another way I can have an impact on the profession.”

Kempnich helps facilitate change on a national level as an active member of the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Association of Nurse Executives (AONE), and the HealthLeaders Media Council. She stays active locally with the Nebraska Organization of Nurse Leaders (NONL), Nebraska Nurses Association (NNA), and Nebraska Action Coalition–Future of Nursing (NAC).

“In nursing, we have to hold that bar high,” she says. “If I can play a role in that, then I’ve done my job.”

 

Medical-Surgical Nursing
Erin Merrill
RN, BSN, Lead Staff Nurse Orthopedics/Medical-Surgical Unit
Nebraska Medicine

What advice would you offer to other nurses?

“I would tell nurses to remember why they became a nurse: We are there to help people in need. There will be good days and there will be bad days. There will be easy patients and there will be tough patients…but we need to remember that we came into the nursing profession to help people. The field of nursing is one of the most trusted professions, and we get a chance every day to impact people’s lives.”

What are the rewards of being a leader?

“The most rewarding part of being a leader is seeing those around you achieve their goals. When I am working with a new graduate or a staff nurse trying to improve on skills, it is rewarding to see them achieve that goal. They get a boost in self-confidence. They improve in their nursing ability, and they gain in their ability to teach others.”

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

“Watching my patients improve and get to go home after a stay in the hospital is always a great way to end the day. However, there are times when difficult decisions have to be made and the outcomes are not always happy. Those tough times are when I can be there to support a patient and family. I can offer support, both medically and emotionally. That is also very rewarding.”

 

Women’s Health
Teresa Kenney
WHNP, APRN, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Pope Paul VI Institute

A tender hand for women and new life are areas of care that have become Teresa Kenney’s passion. Her desire to help other women as well as her strong Catholic faith led her to Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction.

The institute is internationally recognized for its achievements in the field of natural fertility regulation and reproductive medicine. It treats women from all over the country and the world, says Kenney, who specializes in a new women’s health science called NaProTechnology. The focus here is on using natural fertility cycles to help women deal with such common women’s health issues as premenstrual syndrome, ovarian cysts, irregular cycles, painful periods, polycystic ovaries, premenopausal symptoms, infertility, and repeat miscarriage.

“I am extremely passionate about what I do because everything I offer my patients is healthy and works cooperatively with their bodies,” says Kenney. “So many women come to us with health issues they don’t understand. They have already been to many doctors for help, but have only been given a band-aid approach to medicine. We empower these women by helping them understand their bodies and, by using NaProTechnology, we are able to treat their underlying diseases without the use of harmful drugs.”

Kenney goes above and beyond the boundaries of her job to help patients, whether it’s staying after hours to make phone calls, comforting a grieving patient suffering with infertility or loss, taking the time to talk to patients that no one else can reach, or just taking a moment to pray with them. She also takes time to educate young women in the community, works at Sancta Familia family practice clinic one day a week, and also provides prenatal care for a local maternity home for homeless women.

“I feel that this is what I was called to do,” says Kenney. “To serve women and their families, and to treat them with compassion and dignity.”

 

ER
Ellen Long
RN, BSN, ED Staff Nurse
Omaha VA Medical Center

“The first time I walked into the VA hospital, I felt a different presence there,” says Ellen Long. Maybe she felt the presence of her father and grandfather, who both were military veterans. Or that of her husband or three brothers who had also served in the military. Or maybe it was her mother who was a nurse at the VA for many years. Whatever the case, Long says that her love for taking care of patients has grown to a deeper level since working here.

“The patients here are so thankful,” says Long. “I’ve never felt more appreciated.”

And she’s never felt so moved. “The strength and courage they display, even when they come to the emergency room,is amazing.”

Long recently did a presentation with a colleague at a nursing conference for emergency nurses on post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and how it affects veterans. After the recent changes in our healthcare laws that allow veterans to seek care at any hospital, Long saw a need to provide education and awareness to all nurses in hopes that it will improve care to our veterans, no matter what hospital they visit.

“Individuals with these diagnoses need a unique type of care, and I want to all nurses to be aware of their special needs,” she says. It’s just one of the many areas in which Long has taken a leadership role. She helped lead ebola preparedness efforts in her department as well as training for many types of medical and natural disasters, not to mention a number continuing education programs.

“I’m always looking for opportunities to make sure our staff is prepared and current,” says Long. “By being enthusiastic, it hopefully helps promote and encourage others to follow.”

 

Pediatrics-Neonatal 
Nancy Murray
RN, BSN, MS, Staff Nurse, and Director of Research and Special Projects, Neonatal Care, PC
Methodist Women’s Hospital

Describe an incident that has had the most impact on you in your profession?

“As a new graduate I took care of infants who had chronic illnesses and who required long-term hospitalization. I quickly realized that the infants with good growth had a better chance of survival. Together with Dr. Jon Vanderhoof, a pediatric gastroenterologist, and other interested professionals, a pediatric nutrition support team was developed. I was the first nurse on the team. By 1981, babies with long-term nutritional needs were being cared for by their parents at home, and were thriving. The program was one of the best in the country. Those first infants changed the course of my career, as I have always viewed myself as a pediatric nutrition nurse. Although my current job is more encompassing, feeding remains a large component of the care I provide in the NICU.”

What advice would you offer to patients?

“If they would listen, I would tell the babies to sleep during the night! Instead, I would like their parents to know their most important role is to love and cherish their miracle babies. They must do what is right for their family, whether it is breastfeeding, formula feeding, staying at home, or using daycare. Do what is right for you and your child, and don’t try to live up to anyone
else’s expectations.”

 

Rehabilitation
Lesha Murphy
BSN, Rehabilitation Nurse
Methodist Hospital

Treat others with respect. It was a simple life lesson taught by her parents when she was growing up that helped lay the foundation for Lesha Murphy’s nursing career.

Murphy works in Inpatient Rehabilitation at Nebraska Methodist Hospital. This area of patient care involves working with a wide variety of patients who have suffered various problems, such as stroke, heart attack, amputations, or brain and spinal injuries. Her role is to help patients attain their maximum function and capability to participate in life.

It’s a job that takes patience, respect, compassion, and empathy, says Murphy. “It’s definitely challenging at times, but that makes me a better nurse,” she says. “Just seeing that I can make a slight difference in anyone’s day is rewarding. And while I hope that I can have an impact on their lives, they touch my life in many, many more ways.”

Says one of her colleagues, “Lesha embodies the Methodist mission of being the ‘meaning of care.’ She is truly genuine and heartfelt with each patient she encounters and always has a smile on her face.”

Murphy says taking care of patients is “an honor and a privilege. Nursing is my passion and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

 

Neurology/Psychology/ Behavioral Health
Crystal Pearon
RN, MSN, CNRN, Nebraska Epilepsy Center
Nebraska Medicine

What attracted you to this area of nursing?

“My mom was a nurse for over 40 years and I saw how much she loved her work. I also have two younger brothers and found that helping to take care of them gave me a lot of fulfillment and made me feel important. I love being a nurse for my own selfish reasons—I have a need to give to others and to feel needed!”

What advice would you offer to other nurses?

“Take care of yourself first. You will be more effective at your job if you feel good.”

What advice would you offer to patients?

“Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion or find a provider that is a good fit for you. It could be life-changing.”

What advice would you offer to students?

“Participate in something fun that you love while you are in school. There is a reason for old sayings that still ring true today, such as, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’”

How does your profession help complete the circle?

“Nursing is everywhere. Taking care of others is nursing. At some point in our life we require ‘nursing’ from someone, so I think that it is something that we can all relate to.”

 

Intensive Care
Kimberly Sieck
MSN, RN, CCRN-E, Director of eFocus/eICU
CHI Health Lakeside

Overseeing a critical care team that supports up to 111 critical care patients spread among 13 hospitals at any one time is no easy task. It’s a job Kim Sieck’s colleagues say she does with professionalism, poise, and skill.

Sieck is director of the eFocus/eICU at CHI Health. ICU nurses provide bedside monitoring and assessments while the eICU team helps monitor patients 24/7 from a central monitoring unit. The eICU ensures there is a critical care physician monitoring the patients at all times and, ultimately, improves overall care.

“It’s set up like an air traffic control center,” says Sieck. “We can often see changes in a patient’s status more quickly than the bedside nurse because we are focused solely on things like vitals, ventilator data, and labs.”

Sieck started the eICU program at CHI in 2007, and it has been a success from the start. “We have decreased ‘never events’ like blood clots and infections, and last year we decreased length-of-stay through better ventilator management and saved the hospitals more than $3 million,” says Sieck.

“The eICU allows us to spread our expertise over many hospitals, and rural hospitals as well, who otherwise would not have access to the same resources,” says Sieck. She enjoys the challenge of staying current with new nursing practices and the satisfaction of seeing the impact good nursing practice can have on patient care. “In healthcare, we often see miracles every day,” says Sieck. “In the ICU, it’s even more rewarding because we see them faster and on the sickest of the sick.”

 

Orthopedics
Angela Pfeiffer
MSN, APRN-CNS, ACNS, BC, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Medical-Surgical/Orthopedics
CHI Health

Describe an incident that has had the most impact on you in your profession.

“The incident that was a life-changing event for me was actually saving my mom’s life. She suffered a brain aneurysm while my husband and I were visiting at my parent’s home one weekend. She collapsed right in front of me. I had to pull from all my knowledge as a nurse while at the same time being in a family crisis. My mother is alive today, beat the odds of 50 percent survival, and leads a normal life, for which I will be forever grateful. I experienced first-hand how it felt to be a family member of someone who was critically ill. The nurses were so comforting and brilliant, and cared about my mother and our family very much. I later developed a talk titled ‘Families in Crisis: The Waiting Room Warriors,’ and shared my experiences with other nurses so they would understand what families often go through when they have a loved one who is ill, and what they as nurses can do to provide comfort and support to families.”

What are you most passionate about in your profession?

“I am most passionate about being able to bring evidenced-based care to the bedside. This is really about bringing the best proven care to our patients who need it. I always get excited when there is something out there that can make a big difference in patient’s lives.”

 

Senior Services
Dawn Truckenbrod
RN, BSN, Director of Nursing
Brookestone Meadows

The first time Dawn Truckenbrod stepped foot into a nursing rehabilitation center for seniors nearly 30 years ago, she knew this was her vocation. “Something clicked and I realized that I really enjoyed being around the elderly population,” says Truckenbroad. “I have a deep respect for their experience and knowledge. They come from all avenues of life and have been through so much more than any of us. Eventually, it will come full circle. Some day I will be in their shoes. So right now, I figure it’s my turn to help them.”

Truckenbroad also enjoys working with the patients’ families and helping them get through a difficult time. “It makes you feel so good when you go home and you know that you’ve done something beneficial for someone else,” she says. “It puts a smile on my face.”

Truckenbrod is Director of Nursing at Brookestone Meadows, a facility that provides short-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing services to seniors. Her colleagues respect her patience, dedication, and leadership skills. Says one of her colleagues, “Dawn is a very dedicated, responsible, high achieving nurse whose heart is always with those she serves, whether they are patients and residents or the team members she is responsible for growing and developing.”

“As a seasoned nurse, there is so much we can teach other nurses and so much they can teach us,” says Truckenbrod. “We can learn and grow from each other.” Her colleagues say that it is the selfless attitude and mutual respect for those she serves that is indelibly inscribed in the outcomes and the culture at Brookestone Meadows.

 

Educator
Elizabeth Lynn Beam
BSN, MSN, PhD, Director of Education, Nebraska Biocontainment Unit
UNMC

What drew you to this area of nursing?

“I was drawn to infection control research by peers who trusted me and supported me. The cool thing about the biocontainment team in 2014 is that we all had different strengths and were willing to work collectively to solve problems as they arose. I remember driving to work the morning the first patient arrived, my mind racing thinking about keeping my peers safe and sound while asking them to do something only a few people had ever done in the United States.  They are truly ordinary people who stood up to help a fellow healthcare worker when it was terribly frightening to do so. I hope in some small way I soothed their fears and gave them peace of mind.”

What is your biggest pet peeve in nursing?

“Nursing has become too automated and we need a return to our basic skills using new technologies available with critical thinking at the bedside. Healthcare provider education needs to interlace the wisdom of early nursing practice with evidence-based research in the many allied health professions. Our family had a miraculous birth of a little boy during this exciting time in history. That little boy feeds my passion, as well as the love of my husband, Shad Beam, and other supportive family and friends.”

 

Omaha Magazine’s 2015 Excellence in Nursing Finalists

 

Acute Care/Family Practice

Jodeena Kempnich
CHI Health

Kim Hayes
Nebraska Medicine

Bianca Meehan
Omaha VA Medical Center

 

Cardiovascular

Bridget Boeckman
Nebraska Medicine

Kim Robison
Methodist Hospital

Jenny Strawn
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

 

Community Care/Ambulatory Care

Ira Combs
UNMC

Carolyn Carr
CHI Health Lakeside

Sarah Martensen
CHI Health Midlands

 

Educator

Elizabeth Lynn Beam
UNMC

Joyce  Black
UNMC College of Nursing

Kathleen Zaijic
College of St. Mary

 

ER

Mary Jane Egan
Life Net and
Nebraska Medicine

Ellen  Long
Omaha VA Medical Center

 

Hospice/Home Health

Jennifer Kaluza
Nebraska Medicine

Jena Ann Fosdick
Saint Jude Hospice

Diane McGee
Nebraska Medicine

 

Intensive Care

Kimberly Sieck
CHI Health

Kelly Renee Goetschkes
UNMC

Keri Kennon
CHI Health Lakeside

 

Management/Nurse Executive

Tracy Doebelin
CHI Health Bergan Mercy

Dr. Katherine  Girard
National American University 

Linda Norton
CHI Health Lakeside

 

Medical-Surgical Nursing

Erin Merrill
Nebraska Medicine

Alexei  Boettcher
Methodist Hospital

Blake Kevin Smith
Methodist Hospital

 

Neurology/Psychology/Behavioral Health

Crystal Pearon
Nebraska Medicine

Monica  Bentzinger
Nebraska Medicine

Amy Jo Patten
Nebraska Medicine

 

Oncology

Cheryl Bohacek
Methodist Hospital

Whitney  Knuth
Nebraska Medicine

 

Orthopedics

Angie Pfeiffer
CHI Health Lakeside

Chris McLouth
Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital

 

Pediatrics-Neonatal 

Nancy  Murray
Methodist Women’s Hospital

Jamie Jensen
Methodist Women’s Hospital

Catherine Stanton
Nebraska Medicine

 

Pediatrics: Non-Neonatal

Anisa  Hoie
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

Kristie Schwab
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

Susan  Steinke
Children’s Respite Care Center

 

Rehabilitation

Lesha Murphy
Methodist Hospital

Katie  Pearson
Methodist Hospital

 

School

Lindsey Gross-Rhode
Plattsmouth School District

Bridgette Laney
CHI Health Midlands

Jillian Sisson
Nebraska Methodist College

 

Senior Services

Dawn Truckenbrod
Brookestone Meadows

Shannon Dobey
Omaha VA Medical Center

Kathleen Wooley
Life Care Center of Elkhorn

 

Women’s Health

Teresa Kenney
Pope Paul VI Institute

Sharon McArdle
Methodist Women’s Hospital

Ann Smith
CHI Health Bergan Mercy

 

Excellence in Nursing National Judging Panel

Hazel Chappell, MSN, RN
Director, Nursing Continuing Education
University of Kentucky

Thad Wilson, PhD, RN, FAAN
Executive Associate Dean, College of Nursing
The University of Iowa

Rebecca Payne McClanahan, MSN, RN
President
Missouri Nurses Assocation

Robert Rosseter
Chief Communications Officer
American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Excellence in Nursing WebFeatureImage 2015

Try to Keep Up 
With Deb Bass

November 19, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Deb Bass has essentially had three careers: She’s been an RN for 20 years, a startup entrepreneur for eight, and a CEO for about 12.

But don’t get the idea that Bass is calling this stage in her life anything like semi retirement. “I’m working harder than I ever have in my life,” she says with a laugh. As of 2012, she’s CEO of Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NeHII), a 501(c)3 dispensation with an ambitious goal to get electronic health records across the state talking to 
each other.

Health care has actually been a constant in Bass’ professional life. Specifically, the problems related to health-care information exchange.

“People don’t realize that someone who’s started a business has risked everything they own.”
– Deb Bass

“When I was a young nurse, I was in the operating room,” she recalls. “If a patient came in by ambulance, the EMTs would usually go to the patient’s medicine cabinet, empty it into a plastic bag, and bring that to the emergency room. And I would be there with the anesthesiologist, opening every bottle, looking at the pills, looking at the dates—people would put different pills in different bottles—and that’s how we put together   the pieces of what the patient was taking. That was our medicine query. By this time, we were doing surgery, and we were still trying to figure out if the patient was diabetic or if they had high blood pressure. And I remember thinking, there has got to be a better way to do this.”

Building Bass & Associates

That thought stayed with her even as she quit nursing to co-found Bass & Associates, a technology consulting business, in 1993. “February 2, to be exact,” she says. The date is firm in her memory. “We wrote the business plan, and I remember thinking, I sure do hope this works. You have to sign over your house, and…people don’t realize that someone who’s started a business has risked everything they own.” She recalls her 10-year-old daughter asking on family trips if they could please stop talking business 
for awhile.

Coincidentally, it was an aspect of health care that led Bass to reluctantly sell Bass & Associates just eight years later. “A 10 or 20 percent increase in health care every year.” She shakes her head. “You cannot build a business model that will absorb those kinds of increases each year, year after year.”

“The name has good brand value here… Throughout the years, she reiterated to me that you cannot afford to tarnish your reputation.”
– 
Bruce Peterson, executive vice president at Bass & Associates

Eventually a business has to pass on some of that cost to its employees. “And believe me, you pay as much as you can before you turn a cost back to your employees,” Bass says with emphasis. “It just got to the point where we needed to be an even larger organization so we could get better insurance.” In 2001, she sold the company and her stocks, though she stayed on as CEO and Bass & Associates kept her name.

“The name has good brand value here,” explains Bruce Peterson, executive vice president of Bass & Associates. He’s worked with Bass in several capacities over the course of two decades. “Throughout the years, she reiterated to me that you cannot afford to tarnish your reputation.” Having her name remain on a shingle she no longer owns would suggest Bass might be on to something.

 Stepping Up with NeHII

In 2007, Bass connected with NeHII (pronounced “knee high”) as a contracted resource through Bass & Associates to solve a different kind of health-care problem: the one she struggled with as a young nurse in the operating room. “To make it simple, we’re the Expedia model of health care information exchange,” she says. The public/private collaborative nonprofit that is NeHII enables electronic health records (EHRs) to speak to one another, across hospitals and across the state. “A physician enters a patient’s first name, last name, date of birth, and then we send crawlers across all participating hospitals, identify all the matches, and pull them into view on a screen.”

“She is passionate, passionate about NeHII.”
– 
Connie pratt, program director at NeHII

In an all but completely digitized world, it’s still not the norm for a physician to view a complete health record of a patient on a screen. Within one hospital, Bass explains, there may be as many as five or six different EHRs—one for the ER, one for the lab, one for the physician’s office, and so on. “Consumers get frustrated because they’re always asked to fill out the questionnaire with the  same set of questions,” she says. “‘You mean you don’t have this recorded somewhere?’ They don’t. Because they have all these siloed systems.” Benefits of a health information exchange (HIE), Bass says, include accurate data that doesn’t rely on the memory of laypersons; the ability to identify drug seekers; and facilitating consumer comparison by standardizing 
industry terminology.

“She is passionate, passionate about NeHII,” says Connie Pratt, the program director of NeHII. “She’ll go to the nth degree to make sure that it’s meeting people’s needs.” Pratt adds that the inevitable setbacks of such an undertaking don’t hold Bass’ focus for long. “She just keeps going—and that’s huge. Some people, when somebody says no, it’s done. Deb says, ‘Okay, that one said no, but we’re going to go over here now.’”

NeHII currently represents 51 percent of all hospital beds in Nebraska, on pace to represent 80 percent by 2015. The end goal, Bass says, is for all these state HIEs to connect to a federal architecture—a nationwide health information network, known in D.C. as The Healthy Way. Despite the fact that technology is ready for that scenario today, Bass says the industry is still a long way away from seeing Healthy Way work. “The challenges are the privacy and security policies and the politics.”

Maintaining the Pace

Pounding away at policies and politics means 7 o’clock mornings and 11:30 nights. “She is a doer,” Peterson says. “She was the pace car for Bass & Associates. Everybody that worked with her was trying to keep up.”

To cope, Bass sets another pace: twenty miles a week. “I really wouldn’t call it running anymore. It’s a run/walk.” And she lifts weights. “I have got to do it or my brain just goes nuts.”

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Also keeping her grounded are her three daughters. “For all the working women out there, we always worry we’re spending too much time working and not spending enough time with our children. ‘Do they know who I am?’ And to see them all grown up and be talented and independent is…” Bass breaks off the sentence with a huge smile. Fittingly, one of her daughters is a doctor, and the other two are successful 
in business.

As for herself, Bass isn’t planning to leave the business world any time soon. Nebraska is recognized as the leader in the U.S. for HIE, and some EHRs are trying to give NeHII a run for its money. “The race isn’t done,” Bass says. “You won’t know if you’re on the right horse until you cross the finish line. And we’re all still 
riding in it.”

Jean Stothert

September 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann and Keith Binder

The corridor leading to the Omaha mayor’s office serves as a gallery for a long line of portraits of the city’s past mayors. It is a wall-to-wall boy’s club.

This day, the portrait of the city’s newest mayor is off at a photography studio waiting to be framed. But once it arrives, it will be an image long overdue on this wall.

It’s the first picture of a woman in the hallway on the third floor of the Civic Center.

“It was not an issue in the campaign, and it was not something I thought about,” says Mayor Jean Stothert as she sits at the conference table in her new office. “But yes, there’s no question I’m proud to be the first female mayor of Omaha.

“You get pretty sick of the ‘*-word.’” – Jean Stothert on women in politics

“Some of my biggest influences are those strong, pioneering women who broke new ground. I love Margaret Thatcher. I would love if someone called me The Iron Lady.”

So be it. Jean Stothert—The Iron Lady. It’s a name both friend and foe are likely to find fitting.

Conservative, like Thatcher. Driven. A homemaker from humble beginnings turned successful political figure. A tough, sometimes polarizing figure. A woman who can shrug off, and move on from, the sometimes vile comments only female political figures have to face.

“You get pretty sick of the ‘c-word,’” she says. It isn’t unusual for women in politics to be pushed to prove their “toughness.” So where is the “Iron” in the “Lady?” In Stothert’s case, not only did politics help galvanize her; so, too, did her years as an ICU nurse.

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Humble Roots

Stothert grew up in Wood River, Ill., outside St. Louis, “a refinery town where my dad worked at the refinery.”

He was not in a union, if you were wondering. Like Thatcher, Stothert—as she has proven already with the firefighter’s union—stands in vocal and firm opposition to some union interests.

The specs of her childhood home roll quickly off her tongue. “Tiny house—living room, kitchen, four kids, one bathroom,” Stothert shares. She’s clearly said this many times before. It is a counterpoint raised often in political spheres when people note that she lives with her surgeon husband in often-assumed-to-be-more-affluent-than-it-is Millard.

She walked to school, had a job, did volunteer work. She wanted to be a nurse “because it seemed like a good way to give back to the community.” While many of her friends chose to work in hospitals in more affluent parts of St. Louis, she chose to “be where I was most needed”—with the Trauma Center at St. Louis University Hospital in the heart of the city.

You have to become an Iron Lady to be a nurse in an inner-city trauma center.

“You see it all,” she says. “I’ve done CPR on hundreds of patients. I’ve opened people’s chests and done internal heart massage. I’ve wrapped up bodies and taken them to the morgue over and over again. That’s just how it is.

“I like the challenge of making a critically ill patient well. But sometimes, I’m not going to make that patient well. They’re going to die. The thing is, I never want to get that hard edge. You can do tough work without losing your humanity and compassion doing it.”

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From Homemaker to Politician

It was in this environment that she met trauma surgeon Joe Stothert.

After five years of dating, they married. In time, the couple moved to Seattle with his job. Then to Galveston, Texas, where the couple’s daughter, Elizabeth, and son, Andrew, were born.

Then to Omaha, Neb., “in good part for the better schools,” Joe notes. With two young children and a husband with a job that took him away at all hours, Jean decided she would stay home with her children.

“She has always been strong-willed but wonderful at listening to others and working together with people to get things done.” – Joe Stothert

In little time, being an at-home mom entailed diving into work with her local parent-teacher organization. Joe says it was a natural fit for her.

“She has always been strong-willed but wonderful at listening to others and working together with people to get things done,” he says. “Then, as an ICU nurse, she was working with an immense amount of sophisticated mechanisms. She enjoyed that. I think she was quickly interested in the mechanisms of government.”

Jean and husband Joe Stothert went out in a blizzard to campaign.

Jean and husband Joe Stothert went out in a blizzard to campaign.

Getting Out the Vote

Three years after the family arrived in Millard, three positions opened on the Millard School Board.

“There were 13 people running. A full field,” Stothert says. “I didn’t have much money, so I figured we’d have to hit the streets and knock on as many doors as we could. We won by a good bit. We learned right then how important it is to get out and talk to everyone you can.”

That shoe-leather, door-to-door campaigning with her and her supportive family at its core has been the key to her continued success. She served two more terms on the Millard School Board before her election to the Omaha City Council, which, she says, was a logical step.

“School boards are very much like city councils,” Stothert says. “You manage multi-million-dollar budgets, you have labor negotiations. It wasn’t much of a leap at all.”

During her time on the school board, she suffered her only loss so far in politics: a 2006 bid for the state legislature against Democrat Steve Lathrop.

It was one of the closest races in state history. Initially, it appeared Stothert had won by only a few votes. She celebrated with a small vacation with her husband. When she returned, she found out that after absentee votes were counted, she had lost by 14 votes. Stothert said the final margin—after some votes were contested—was five votes.

“So maybe you should have picked up 10 of your friends and driven [them] to the polls,” she recalls having wondered to herself. “Yes, I thought about it. But I truly believe we did the best we could. I think I learned more in losing than I did in winning. I also truly believe that things happen for a reason.”

She then turned her eye toward the Omaha City Council. She asked Joe if she should run. “I said ‘no,’” he says. “She ran anyway.”

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Taking on the Big Boys

She had no plans to run for mayor when she won her seat on the council, but, in time, she says, she “decided that we needed a change.”

In her race for mayor, her calls for smaller, more streamlined government resonated with voters. Her ground game grew considerably. At its core was a relentless door-to-door campaign by the entire Stothert family.

Joe took 10 vacation days prior to both the primary and the general election. Her son, who is pursuing an advanced degree at the University of South Florida, and her daughter, who works at Union Pacific, also joined in.

Stothert proudly showed off a framed photo of her and her husband in the middle of a residential street during one of the weekend campaign blitzes. The city was socked in by a blizzard that weekend. The Stotherts are wrapped in wet winterwear. Part of Jean’s hair is frozen and cocked sideways. Joe’s right thumb is protruding from a hole in his glove.

It’s a picture of resolve. They knocked on 15,000 doors. She says Joe helped push her on when she grew tired on the campaign trail. Joe insists, “She never would have gone on if she didn’t want to.” It’s also a picture, she jokes, of the Stotherts on a date. “We really have enjoyed those times together,” the mayor says.

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The Ugly Side of Politics

At times, the war of words during the campaign got brutal. Stothert, often characterized as a hardline conservative, can throw fire as well as she receives it. But particularly in the modern world of blogs, tweets, and every sort of website, the personal stabs at those in the public arena are often relentless and outrageous.

Stothert admits that, during the campaign, she failed to heed advice that she avoid reading all the attacks on her on the internet. Also, some of the nastiest—and most sexist—of the insults blew up into campaign issues she then had to address.

She boldly repeats two comments about her—one, a joke essentially about her being gang raped, and another about her being a stripper—that one would not expect to hear verbatim in an interview with the mayor.

“She would get pretty stern. She would challenge me, I would challenge her.” – State Senator Brad Ashford on Stothert

But there is often a flipside to such outlandish attacks. People get angry. In this election, Stothert admits, polls showed that a substantial number of women responded to the sexist attacks by moving into her camp.

Stothert says she’s not afraid of criticism. She invites it, as long as it’s civilized. But she knows now to avoid the constant barrage in cyberspace.

“It’s just not good for your mental health,” she says. “It wouldn’t be good for anyone’s health.” Her husband, as you might imagine, hasn’t handled some of the nastier or more personal criticisms with such a thick skin. “I don’t forgive and forget as easily,” Joe says. “She’s the one who can do that. Early on, she had it pegged. She told me the jabs were going to hurt me more than they would hurt her.”

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Tackling Tough Issues

The criticism is not going to ebb. She will continue to grapple with the powerful and vocal firefighter’s union. While sitting at her office’s conference table, she points to her desk. The gritty specifics of her proposed budget to streamline government “are sitting right over there,” she says.

She promises to cut government and cut taxes while improving government services. There are few political figures who have not claimed they could accomplish this feat. There are few who have.“We are going to succeed,” she says. “I have no doubt about that.”

If anyone can pull off this trick, it might be Stothert. State Sen. Brad Ashford, who ran against Stothert for mayor while also working with her on several issues on the state government level, says Stothert, while always civilized, is a tough and driven negotiator.

“She would get pretty stern. She would challenge me, I would challenge her,” Ashford says. “There’s nothing wrong with that. In the end, that’s how you make good policy.” In Ashford’s mind, Stothert’s best chance to save money while improving services will come “if she’s committed to consolidating” many services that both the county and city provide.

Jean and Joe with their family.

Finding Equilibrium

To keep a sense of balance, Stothert says, she knows she has to guard her personal time. She has a life outside the demands of the mayor’s office. “I love my home,” she says. “I’m pretty good at getting there, calming down, and shutting things off for a while.”

Her day is fairly regimented, as you might expect. She’s up at 5 a.m. After a usually healthy breakfast, she walks for 30 minutes on her treadmill, then takes her Australian Shepard, Ozzie (named after St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith), for a one-mile walk.

Back at home, she watches little television beyond the news. Instead, she relaxes by reading “a lot of fiction.” Her favorite books: one from her childhood, To Kill a Mockingbird, and comedian Tina Fey’s Bossypants (the cover of which inspired our magazine cover concept and, yes, the mayor enthusiastically “suited up” for the photo shoot).

If she has the time, she loves to get in the kitchen. “My friends and I used to get Bon Appétit magazine and try things all the time,” she says. “I would consider myself a gourmet cook now. I enjoy any time I can cook something myself.”

“I’m pretty good at getting [home], calming down, and shutting things off for a while.” – Jean Stothert

If she can’t, she’s also a fan of numerous Omaha restaurants. One stands out though, she says, perhaps because she fell in love with the fresh fish dinners she ate during the family’s time living in Seattle.

“The Twisted Cork has wonderful halibut and salmon,” she says. “I just love the food of the Pacific Northwest when it is done well.”

Then it’s five hours or so of sleep, the morning exercise, and off to another day as The Iron Lady.

“I’m a very black-and-white person,” she says. “I’m a very determined person.”

Meaning?

“We will achieve better services for less money,” she says. “We are not reducing city service, and we are going to balance the budget. This is what the people of this city have asked me to do, so that is what we’re going to get done.”