October Employee of the Month: “I can be myself at Boone.”

October 1, 2014

Jeanine Hickman is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for October 2014. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

When Jeanine Hickman was told that she was Boone Hospital Center’s October Employee of the Month, she did a literal victory dance, high-fiving her many co-workers who had gathered in the Boone Appetít Café for the announcement. Known for her outgoing personality, great customer service and sense of humor, neither the award nor her reaction were a surprise to those who’ve met Jeanine.

“I can be myself here at Boone,” she says. “I don’t have to pretend to be anyone but Jeanine – and I’m happy to be me.”

Jeanine Hickman

Jeanine Hickman

Jeanine joined the Boone Hospital team in early 2013, working part-time as a cashier and barista at Boone Appetít. She later went full-time in the cafe, until May this year, when she accepted a position in the hospital’s catering department, preparing and serving food for meetings, special events and other activities. “I started on the first floor making coffee, then I went upstairs to make sandwiches,” she says.

Jeanine grew up in Malden, a small town in southeast Missouri, as the youngest of 25 children. Upon graduating high school in 1996, she had lived for a couple of years in Columbia, then moved to Saint Louis. She later returned to mid-Missouri in August 2010, to provide a change of environment for her young daughter. While living in Saint Louis, she had worked at another BJC hospital, Missouri Baptist.

When she’s not working, Jeanine loves spending time with her daughters Natalie, 8, and Lily, 2. “My spare time is all about my girls. We sing and dance around the house. We do girl stuff all the time, dress up, put on make-up. I love being with my girls.”

Jeanine says she loves everything about working at Boone Hospital Center. Working at Boone Appetít, she quickly made friends with regular customers, including co-workers, patients and family members, winning them over with her positive attitude. “If I can make your day, I’m here to make your day,” she says.

She was so well-liked by her regular customers that, when Jeanine first moved to the catering department, people dropped by the Nutrition and Food Services office to ask where she went.

While she may miss her customers, Jeanine also loves working in the catering department, and takes great pride in making delicious and beautiful-looking food: “I like what I do. This job shows my variety and what I’m capable of doing outside of making white chocolate mochas.

“With caramel,” she adds, laughing.

Jeanine, who began working as a teenager, says that without a doubt, Boone Hospital Center has been her favorite place to work.

“The Boone atmosphere is amazing. Everybody is so friendly, and everybody is treated like an individual,” she says. “I’m so excited to be here – I know I keep saying that, but I really am.”


September Employee of the Month loves teaching and learning on the ICU

September 5, 2014

Sharon Acra is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for September 2014. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

When Sharon Acra and her family moved to Columbia, she interviewed for a staff nurse position at three hospitals in the area. “Boone was the one that impressed me the most,” she says.

Sharon Acra

Sharon Acra

The feeling was mutual; Sharon joined the Boone Hospital Center family in July 1998 and has worked in the Intensive Care Unit for the subsequent 16 years. She enjoys being a nurse on the ICU, working with her patients and the opportunities to learn something new every day – or every night, rather, since she works the third shift.

As a staff nurse on the unit, Sharon takes part in the orientation of new hires, training recent nursing school graduates and educating nursing school students. She enjoys working on the night shift with many of the newer hospital employees. “They’re fun and have a fresh perspective on things,” she says.

Additionally, Sharon serves as a community representative for Boone Hospital Center, providing blood pressure screenings to residents of The Terrace Retirement Community in Columbia.

Sharon was born in Saint Louis, but moved to several places while her husband served in the U.S. Navy. While he was stationed in Connecticut, she received her Associates Degree in Nursing at a local community college. She later earned her BSN through the University of Missouri, inspired to further her education when her second daughter enrolled at the Sinclair School of Nursing.

“I decided she was not going to beat me to a bachelor’s degree,” Sharon says. “I did the RN-BSN program online at Mizzou, she did the traditional program, and we graduated on the same day.”

Sharon’s three daughters live with their families in Jacksonville, Florida, and she has two grandchildren that she adores and visits often. She loves to bowl and recently joined a local senior bowling league – “You only have to be 50 to join!” she says – where she enjoys listening to other bowlers’ stories and picking up some good bowling tips, as well

When asked what she enjoys most about working at Boone Hospital Center, Sharon says, “I work with some wonderful people. I have to give credit to the people I work with for being chosen for Employee of the Month. We have an excellent team, and they encourage and assist me to be a better nurse.”


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.


Employee of the Month found her second family at Boone

July 2, 2014

Michelle Crane is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for July 2014. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

“There is a never a dull moment in the Emergency Department,” says Michelle Crane, unit secretary. But she wouldn’t want it any other way: “I like the intensity. When the team goes into action to save a life, we’re all involved. We all have a role. It feels good to be a part of that.”

Michelle Crane

Michelle Crane

As unit secretary, Michelle serves as the hub for patient care in a critical area, arranging tests and screenings, entering data and physician orders, placing urgent phone calls, acquiring beds for newly admitted patients, and more. In such a fast-paced area of the hospital, her role is to be the calming entity and to keep things running smoothly.

“You have to keep calm for staff, patients and family members. Getting excited would only make things difficult,” Michelle explains. “You’ve got to keep your spirits up.”

Often, Michelle accomplishes this by remembering a poem her Dad taught her, Rudyard Kipling’s “If,” which opens “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs…”

In addition to the Emergency Department, Michelle works for nursing support services and provides coverage for unit secretaries in other patient care areas. She joined Boone Hospital Center in October 2007 as a unit secretary in the Cardiology unit.

When asked what she loves most about working at Boone Hospital Center, Michelle immediately says it’s the people she works with. She especially enjoys working with Emergency Department manager Beth Eidson. “I hold such respect for her. Working for Beth is truly a blessing.

“You can’t beat the staff,” she continues “They’ve turned into my family.”

During a difficult time a few years ago, when Michelle’s father required hospice care immediately after she herself had been hospitalized and had used up her Earned Time Off, her Boone family donated ETO so that she could take care of her own family.

Both families mean a lot to Michelle. When she’s not at work, she loves spending time with her daughter Jennifer, son-in-law Joel and grandchildren Oliver and Finn. She also volunteers at the Food Bank, tends to a plot in the Community Garden, and enjoys swimming, walking and biking on the Katy Trail.

She also walks seven-and-a-half miles from home to work and back and has even walked to work in the snow, including this years’ blizzards and the storm in winter 2011. “I’m from Rapid City, South Dakota,” she says. “So snow doesn’t scare me.”

Indeed, it would take more than a blizzard to keep Michelle away from her job. She says, “It makes a world of difference when you wake up in the morning and tell yourself, ‘I get to go to work today.’”


Employee of the Month gets hospital staff “running back up to 100%”

June 2, 2014

Tyler Compton is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for June 2014. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

Whenever Tyler Compton is called upon to fix a computer, one concern is first and foremost in his mind.

Tyler Compton

Tyler Compton

“Our first question is ‘Is the patient being taken care of?’” he says.

When Boone Hospital Center employees experience any computer problems, they contact a centralized Customer Support Center, which then assigns work tickets to the appropriate team. As part of desktop support, Tyler, an Information Services Senior Customer Support Technician, handles a combination of hardware and software issues. He might pick up a broken computer and take it back to IS to repair it, fix something on the spot or, most often, remote into another machine to resolve issues.

Tyler had come to Columbia in 2012 to return to school at the University of Missouri when he was notified about a three-month contractor position at Boone Hospital Center. The assignment and the opportunity to gain experience appealed to him. The three-month contract was extended to eight months, during which time Tyler was asked if he wanted to work in IS as a full-time employee. In October, he officially joined the Boone Hospital Center team.

Tyler enjoys working in the IS department and the friendly and supportive environment there. This month, he will start the summer semester at University of Missouri to complete his degree in computer science and information technology.

Tyler enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee, racquetball and gaming while not at work. He is currently teaching himself computer programming in his free time as well.

When asked what he likes best about working at Boone, Tyler says, “Working with people and working with computers is what I want to do. I can’t picture myself in an office, working eight hours a day, not talking to anyone. I love my job.”

He also likes that the work he does helps others, not just employees with computer issues, but Boone Hospital Center patients, as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here for – to get staff running back up to 100%, so they can take care of the patients.”


Mother Knows Best: Birthplace Moms Connect With Their Patients Through Shared Experiences

May 11, 2014

By Jacob Luecke

This story is featured in the Spring 2014 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

Marla Owen and her family

Marla Owen, RN and her family

As a nurse with 16 years of experience helping deliver babies, Marla Owen has witnessed the miracle of birth hundreds of times. Yet, there are three deliveries in particular that inspire her on a daily basis: the births of her three sons.

Luke, 13, Cale, 11, and Andrew, 18 months, were all born at the Boone Family Birthplace. Each day as she serves patients at Boone Hospital, Owen is reminded of how her own nurses gave words of encouragement, helped take pictures and celebrated by her side as her children were born.

Now, in her nursing work, she tries to provide that same level of care to the women and families at the birthplace.

“There is not a more special, exciting time than the day and the moment when your children are born,” Owen says. “I want all the moms that I care for to have the good memories of the day their children were born. I certainly do and it’s because of the care I received from my friends and coworkers.”

The other mothers who serve patients at the Boone Family Birthplace share that sentiment. They empathize as their patients endure contractions. They share in the joy of seeing a child’s face for the first time. They relate to worries and fears new parents often have. All of these are familiar emotions because they’ve experienced them all firsthand.

Rebecca Romero-Perez and Anderson

Rebecca Romero-Perez and Anderson

“I believe that my experience as a mom helps me tremendously to be a better nurse,” birthplace nurse Rebecca Romero-Perez says. “I can actually relate to my patients with what they are going through, physically and emotionally. There are times that I even share my own personal stories with my patients and it helps us to bond over our common experiences.”

Romero-Perez has served patients at the Boone Family Birthplace for more than six years, and she’s always had an interest in birth and infants.

“I always knew that I wanted to work with pregnant women and babies,” she says. “The whole labor and delivery process is simply amazing!”

She has three sons at home, Aidan, 8, Ashton, 5 and Anderson, 16 months. “I’m thrilled to say that each one of them is a Boone Baby!” she says.

As she helps welcome new children into the world each day, she often reflects back to when her own boys were brand-new.

“Being around babies at work makes me think of my boys when they were little,” Romero-Perez says. “On occasion I’ll see a baby that resembles my boys, and it’s always so sweet to see. It’s also cool to see a baby that weighs the same as my boys. It’s so crazy to think that they were once that exact same size.”

Owen says she feels the same way. She, too, is often reminded of her children as newborns.

“I love remembering what it was like the day they were born, what they looked like and how they sounded when they cried,” she says. “I feel extremely lucky that I get to share these experiences with the families I care for during their birth experiences.”

Jennifer Roelands, MD, with twins Blake and Brooklyn

Jennifer Roelands, MD, with twins Blake and Brooklyn

While the celebration of new life is one of the greatest joys of working in the Boone Family Birthplace, some caregivers also have experienced personally the complications that sometimes come with labor and birth. This has given them a great level of compassion with patients facing similar issues.

Two years ago, Jennifer Roelands, MD, with Women’s Health Associates, came close to delivering her twins at 31 weeks gestation. She was put on bed rest — not always the most comfortable experience. However, the precaution worked and she made it to 34 weeks before delivering her twins, who were cared for in Boone Hospital’s Intensive Care Nursery.

“I think about my labor experience every time I am involved in someone else’s labor, especially preterm babies,” Dr. Roelands says. “I often think about the fear and uncertainty that preterm babies cause mothers and try to impart my story to them when appropriate because I think when people are scared they want to feel like they are not the only one.”

Dr. Roelands’ twins, Blake and Brooklyn, now 2, joined her older sons, Aidan, 7, and Logan, 4. Aidan was born before the family moved to mid-Missouri. Her three youngest were born at Boone Hospital.

“Being around babies always makes me think of my kids,” she says. “I love holding the newborns when my patients come in for their postpartum check. I like to see how they have grown and see how they have changed.”

Boone Family Birthplace caregivers also say their experience raising children has given them a greater understanding about how to care for patients.

“I think that being a mom teaches you a lot about compassion and anticipating the needs of others,” Owen says. “You certainly have to put the needs of others — like your children — before your own needs. You also have to learn to be organized. I see these qualities in my coworkers and the nurses that I want to be like.”

While working in the Boone Family Birthplace makes every day a celebration of motherhood, these caregivers say they are looking forward to Mother’s Day. Like all moms, they say they enjoy the opportunity to rest, receive homemade gifts and eat a good meal.

Dr. Roelands says she plans to do the cooking.

“I love to cook and it makes me happy when the kids want me to make breakfast for them,” she says.

Romero-Perez shares this wish: “Every mother should get to feel like a queen on Mother’s Day.”


May Employee of the Month loves Boone Hospital’s “family atmosphere”

May 5, 2014

Tori Martin is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for May 2014. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

When Tori Martin returned from a weeklong vacation in Jamaica, her co-workers on the Surgical Specialties unit congratulated her on the exciting news – she had gotten engaged a few days ago.

Tori Martin

Tori Martin

A little later that Monday, the unit had another reason to congratulate Tori, when it was announced that she was Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month.

As a circulating nurse, Tori helps patients check in to the OR, reviews that their paperwork has been correctly completed, assists anesthesiologists, preps the patient for surgery and gets the sterile items that the surgeon and staff need during the procedure.

Tori has worked in this role for a combined total of 6 years. She received her nursing degree at Central Methodist University in Fayette. She was a Boone baby and has grown up in Columbia. Tori’s father, Ray Balulis, had worked in the Plant Operations department for 30 years. He had also been named Employee of the Month, in September 1999.

“My Dad said Boone was the only place to work,” Tori says.

Because Tori and Ray were so close, and she admired her father greatly, she wanted to work where he’d been happy for so many years – and in the place where she grew up.

Tori met her fiancé, Paul Newcom, while working together in the OR. The two love being active outdoors and enjoy travel to any place that’s warm, especially during the winter. After this year’s prolonged chilly weather, a tropical vacation was just what Tori needed.

While away, on the morning of her 30th birthday, Tori celebrated another milestone: “There was a spot on the beach where I would go every morning while we were on vacation. Paul came out to meet me at that spot, and he proposed there. It was sweet – and it was perfect for us.”

When asked what she likes about working at Boone Hospital Center, Tori says she most enjoys working with the surgeons and staff in the OR.

“We definitely have a family atmosphere,” she says. “If you ever need anything, there’s always somebody that’s willing to help you out.”

Tori also credits her supervisor, Heidi Woods, with creating a positive and supportive work environment. Tori’s peers feel the same way about her: last November, she was awarded a Boone Hospital Center Excellence in Nursing Award for Nursing Spirit, which recognizes nurses who have a positive attitude and show eagerness and enthusiasm while providing exceptional patient care.

Tori’s nursing spirit is why she has received her second award in less than a year. When asked about the timing of the announcement, she laughs and says, “I thought, ‘I need to buy a lottery ticket!’”

It just so happened that Paul did buy a lottery ticket that morning, which is extremely rare for him. But Tori assures us, “If we win a million dollars, I’ll still be here.”

Good luck and congratulations, Tori!


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