August Employee of the Month is a true team player

August 11, 2014

Deontae Curtis is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for August 2014. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

One thing Deontae Curtis’s teammates at Boone Hospital Center can agree upon: he is great with his patients on the Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery unit. “Patients always love to see Deontae enter their room,” wrote one of his peers. Another staff member nominating Deontae to be our next Employee of the Month wrote, “He works well with his patients. They all love him.”

Deontae Curtis

Deontae Curtis

For Deontae, the feeling is mutual. “I appreciate the individuals that I care for, from admission to discharge,” he says.

Deontae joined Boone Hospital Center in January 2011. “I had several friends who worked here and thought that Boone would be a good fit for me,” he says. He applied to be a patient care technician because he was interested in gaining work experience in a medical-surgical environment before continuing his education in nursing. Deontae also works at Boone as a technician in the Electrocardiography (EKG) department. He serves on the hospital’s Safe Patient Handling Committee and has worked with the Training and Development team on bed and lift education for other Boone Hospital caregivers.

Deontae was born in Columbia and grew up in Mexico, Mo. As a senior at Mexico High School, he was captain of the Bulldogs football team and crowned Homecoming King. He also played baseball and basketball. After graduating in 2003, Deontae attended Central Methodist University where he majored in Computer Science and played football for the Central Methodist Eagles. Currently, he plays semi-professional football for the Hannibal Falcons, a team he’s been with for the last two years.

In addition to football, Deontae plays slow-pitch softball and enjoys fishing, hiking and camping when he’s not at work. He also enjoys spending time with friends and family. He describes himself as the “proud father of two beautiful children,” his son Dayne, 5, and daughter Ava, 2. And he is close to his mother, Shelly, “Without her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

When asked what he likes most about being part of Boone Hospital Center, Deontae says he especially enjoys meeting and interacting with patients, visitors and co-workers. He appreciates both the high quality care and the compassion that his colleagues show in caring for patients.

“Boone Hospital Center is a great facility to be associated with,” Deontae says.


“Thanks for the great care”

January 10, 2014

By Jean Ann Sidwell

Jean, of Kirksville, shared this story the online submission form. Click here to share your story.

I would just like to thank Dr. Fairlamb for his good care and his nurse Karen.

IMG_1857We were out of town and my chest tightness became worse. I called and they were there to help me right then. I had to have two stents and was taken care of by the nicest nurse, Jennifer.

Then the four floor nurses were great. We talked and laughed and were there for me at all times. Great hospital stay. Thanks for the great care.


Employee saves lives through telemetry

August 2, 2013

Cheryl Long is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for August 2013. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

Cheryl Long has a detail-oriented mind and a knack for multitasking.

“I’ve always been a tinkerer and I’ve always loved looking for things to do,” she said.

Cheryl Long 2013 August EOM

Cheryl Long

Those personality traits suit her job perfectly as she watches over the heart rhythms of dozens of patients at once.

As a monitor technician in Boone Hospital’s telemetry lab, Cheryl and her coworkers keep a close eye on heart rhythms across the hospital and quickly alert caregivers if they see a troubling pattern.

In her nine years on the job, she can easily recall times when she’s helped save a life. She remembers one instance when she spotted a patient having a heart attack, an observation that led to him having a life-saving pacemaker implanted.

When Cheryl later met the man, he thanked her personally.

“We have saved people’s lives. It’s remarkable,” she said. “When it happens, it’s like ‘Alright, we did that!’”

Cheryl grew up on a farm in Santa Fe, Mo., northeast of Columbia. She was the twelfth of 13 children. Her job at Boone Hospital is what brought her to Columbia, where she now lives with her partner. She has two stepchildren.

Away from work, she enjoys doing puzzles. She also crafts memory bears.

She loves the friendly, professional atmosphere at Boone Hospital and said she values how everyone is treated as an equal.

Her coworkers staged a surprise announcement to let her know she had been selected as employee of the month. When she got the news, her own heart may have skipped a beat.

“I didn’t flat line, but I could have,” she said. “It was really an honor.”


Nurse loves serving patients in cardiac rehab

June 6, 2013

As she helps patients recover from heart surgery, registered nurse Marla Jones enjoys watching them regain strength and learn to live healthier lives.

Marla Jones

Marla Jones, RN

Education is a big part of Marla’s job in Cardiac Rehab. She teaches wellness and preventative practices to help patients avoid future heart problems.

“I love working love working in Cardiac Rehab,” she said. “I work for, and with, an amazing group of individuals. I cannot imagine a more perfect career than working here.”

It’s a job that allows her to spend months with her patients and truly get to know them as individuals.

“It’s just really cool,” she said. “Sometimes I get to see them from right after the procedure and then through the end of their rehab. I absolutely love it.”

Marla grew up in southeast Colorado and later attended high school in Iowa. She chose her career after a high school aptitude test determined nursing would be a good fit.

She later graduated from William Jewell College in Liberty. She’s worked at Boone Hospital for the past 11 years.

“I’ve lived in a lot of different places and I’ve worked at a variety of places, so I have a pretty good idea of how Boone compares,” she said. “I think Boone offers excellent patient care and it’s a great place to work.”

When she’s not at Boone Hospital, Marla enjoys spending time with her family and friends, including her husband, Michael, and their two grown children.

She also loves gardening — flowers, vegetables, you name it.

“I just like to dig in the dirt,” she said. “I even like pulling weeds.”


From the heartland — Quadruple bypass frees farmer from years of pain

May 16, 2013

By Jacob Luecke

This story is featured in the Spring 2013 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

When you’re running a farm, you can’t let a little pain get in the way of a day’s work.

That’s what Lowell Woods thought five years ago as he was moving cattle from one pasture to another on the 1,300-acre farm he operates with his wife and son in Baring, Mo.

Lowell Woods on his farm near Baring, Mo.

Lowell Woods on his farm in Baring, Mo.

On this day, a few of his cows were being ornery, and Lowell had to hustle to get them to stay moving. As he ran, he felt a sharp pain at the center of his chest.

“That was the first time I noticed it,” Lowell said. “I had to stop and rest a minute but then the pain went away.”

Days later, he was moving hay bales in his barn when the chest pain suddenly came back. Again, he rested and the pain subsided.

And so went the next five years of his life. Every couple days, while doing strenuous work or walking up hills, Lowell would feel the sharp pains. He’d rest and then continue onward.

The thought would creep into his mind that something was probably wrong. But on some days, he felt nothing.

“The reason I put up with this is because I might go a couple days, doing the same kind of work, and not feel any pain in my chest,” he said. “I’d think, ‘this is great, I might be over this.’”

It’s not uncommon for people to ignore pain and other cardiovascular warning signs, said cardiothoracic surgeon Eric Thompson, MD. But that’s a very dangerous behavior.

“With a situation like this, it’s not just that a heart attack could happen. You can die suddenly,” Dr. Thompson said.

He said there are several heart warning signs that should elicit a prompt visit to a family doctor or cardiologist: shortness of breath during exertion, chest pain or discomfort, strange pains in the arms, and pain in neck or back.

When Lowell’s pain kept returning and increasing in intensity, he finally listened to his wife and agreed to come to Boone Hospital Center and get tested.

At Boone, he badly failed a stress test. He was scheduled to come back for a cardiac catheterization, where his cardiologist could look for blockage in his heart.

What they found was shocking — all three of his major coronary arteries were 90-95 percent blocked. He would need quadruple bypass surgery.

The discovery was unwelcome news for Lowell. At 75 years old, he’d already had far more than his share of illness and hospitalization — at just five years old he was nearly killed when a horse stepped on his head, cracking his skull in two places.

Another major operation seemed too much to bear.

Lowell and Darlene Woods

Lowell and Darlene Woods

“I was scared to death; I said I couldn’t go through it,” Lowell said. “But I thought about my wife, Darlene. I’ve got the sweetest wife any man could ever have. I thought, I’ve got to do it for her.”

Woods was immediately admitted to the hospital where he awaited his operation the next day.

At 10 a.m., Lowell was taken into the operating room where his operation, performed by Dr. Thompson, which lasted three hours.

The quadruple bypass was a success. To save a heart patient like Lowell, Dr. Thompson said it takes a team effort that extends well beyond the doctors and nurses. The team includes dozens of other hospital employees.

It’s a team that was recently honored by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons with the three star composite quality rating. That’s the society’s highest rating given to only 15 percent of hospitals nationwide.

“To care for a patient after heart surgery, there are probably 50 different people involved, all working together,” he said. “You need all of them; they each play an essential role.”

Dr. Thompson predicts the combined effort will make a profound impact for Lowell.

“His outlook, with his disease as it was, was very poor,” said Dr. Thompson. “Now, after the surgery, his life expectancy should be the same as the average, healthy 75-year-old.”

After his surgery, Lowell spent a day in the intensive care unit and then four days on the cardiac surgery unit. During this time, Darlene stayed by his side. They loved that Lowell’s hospital rooms included space for family members, including a pull-out couch where Darlene could sleep.

“It was wonderful to be able to be right there,” Darlene said. “I never had to leave.”

Lowell agreed.

“I couldn’t imagine going through that without her there with me,” Lowell said. “It is the nicest place you could ever come for health care. It was absolutely perfect. I had the best care that any person could ever have.”

Today, back on their farm in Baring, the surroundings are the same as always.

Lowell and Darlene have been tending to this land for more than 50 years now. They know it by heart. They know the small streams, the rolling pasture and the level crop fields.

But for Lowell, the experience of walking next to his wife and working the land is entirely different.

“Oh, it’s beautiful. I can walk, I have no pain whatsoever,” he said. “I owe it all to the people at Boone hospital — the doctors, the nurses and every one that saved me.”


“I was given my husband back and that was a miracle”

May 14, 2013

By Sandra Meyer

Sandra, of Columbia, shared this story via the myBooneHealth.com online submission form. Click here to share your story.

My husband Walt was getting dressed in the bedroom, he was going to a basketball game. I was in another room cleaning when I heard a horrible noise. Not a groan or cry, but a fall that was so loud.

I ran to the room he was dressing in. He was on his stomach, face already deep purple. He fell with such force that he wedged the top part of his head under the metal bed frame. I couldn’t move him. I called 911 and I was screaming, “I think he is dead. Please hurry!”

I couldn’t do CPR, he was on his stomach, I cried, “Help, Dub (this is what i call him), wake up!” He was unresponsive. He was like someone that had no bones.

I placed my hands on his back the same way a person would do if this were his chest. I pumped up and down, I cried, “how can this work?”

I got up and lifted the bed off his head. I continued to pump, I had to leave him to put the dogs up so the ambulance people could come in.

Entrance signTwo ambulances and a first responder were there in five minutes — but what seemed like forever. Dub was shocked five times to try to get his heart back to normal. He was intubated. They were taking him to Boone.

I was so happy that we had talked way before this episode and said if I or Dub would become ill, we wanted Boone to care for us. He was admitted to the ICU. They put him under the Arctic Sun which lowers the body temperature to 91.4 degrees, hopefully thwarting any brain damage from the swelling.

I must also say that Jeannie our nurse was very supportive to my whole family treated Walt wonderfully. He remained unresponsive until monday at 8 a.m. when he started to respond.

I was going back to his room after having breakfast and a very sobering conversation with Dr. Scoles. When I walked to his room, Jeannie was sitting by his bed holding his hand. She looked up at me and said, “Sandy, come here, look.” He was squeezing her hand! She said, “Walt, move your feet.” He did!

From that moment, on he improved hourly.

Walt loves ice cream. Jeannie said we are going to have an ice cream party! He was then raised up in bed and his precious nurse and Dub celebrated with a ice cream party.

Walt Meyer

Walt with his granddaughter.

So instead of planning a funeral, I was planning a homecoming. Dub had a defibrillator put in on Wednesday, March 20, 2013. He was walking and doing everything just like before. No issues that were concerning.

Soon he would come home. Monday, March 25, he was dismissed — ten days after his sudden death arrhythmia (a deviation from the normal pattern of the heartbeat).

A very special thank you to Jeannie Grant for loving my family and always supporting Walt; Dr. Fairlamb, whom I believe is the best heart doctor around; Dr. Lohdi, Walt’s pulmonary doctor; and many more.

Thank all of you that helped us make it through a tough time. I was given my husband back and that was a miracle.

He continues to do well, he drives the car, mows the lawn. He is writing again. All is well at our house.

To the best nurse, Jeannie, and the doctors, we love you, and Boone Hospital is the only hospital to go to in a critical time.


Heart patient: “I was impressed by the high quality care”

April 30, 2013

By Shankha Banerji

Shankha, of Columbia, shared this story via the myBooneHealth.com online submission form. Click here to share your story.

Main entrance 5I had two stent procedures done to my heart last Friday (April 26) by Dr. Spaedy. It went well and I am doing fine now.

But I did want to let it be known about the great experience that I had while I was there. The pre-op services were very nice as nurse Brent Herbel was kind and helpful.

The recovery in the 4 South cardiac care unit was also very good with the nursing staff extremely pleasant (particularly Whitney and Lori) and helpful.

Even the catering staff (Jeff Reul) was very good. Overall, I was impressed by the high quality care provided by the hospital.


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