A WWII Vet Wins Another Battle

November 11, 2014

story and photo by David Hoffmaster

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2014 edition of My Boone Health magazine.

As a Marine in the Pacific theater, Fred Oerly had survived World War II. He had volunteered to serve as a forward observer for naval gunfire on hostile islands like Guadalcanal, Bougainville and Okinawa, and received both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Fred Oerly, center, with daughters Diane Oerly, left, and Donovan Davis, right.

Fred Oerly, center, with daughters Diane Oerly, left, and Donovan Davis, right.

But, on a Sunday morning in February 2014, Fred thought he might be in for his last battle.

Fred had been living by himself since his wife passed away. He continued to live in the Boonville home he had built with her 63 years ago. At 91, he led an active life, exercising three times a week and driving himself to Hartmann Village, a local assisted-living facility, for lunch. His daughter-in-law Karen had purchased meal tickets for him there, and Fred greatly enjoyed the camaraderie and socialization whenever he visited.

Fred had been selected for a Boonville Honor Flight to visit the World War II monument in Washington, D.C. A proud supporter of the program, Fred, who is a prolific and talented woodcarver, hand-carved more than a hundred cardinals over a period of two years and presented them to the volunteers who ran the Boonville Honor Flight program.

Fred was also working on his second book, sharing his experiences during World War II. His first book, Some Mighty Good Years: 1925–1937, written when he was 86, was a memoir of his childhood spent in the small river town of Overton, Mo., where Fred’s father ran the local grocery store until it closed during the Great Depression.

And then, on that February Sunday morning, Fred threw up bright red blood. His first action was to call his daughter, Dianne Oerly. She quickly picked him up and brought him to Boone Hospital Center’s Emergency Department. An initial endoscopy was unable to locate the source of the bleeding, but an x-ray and CT scan revealed a large mass in his right lung. Fred was admitted.

Fred’s doctor, Wade Schondelemeyer, MD, soon arrived, in the company of Eric Thompson, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Dr. Thompson told Fred there was a favorable chance that his surgery would be successful.

“Then let’s go!” Fred responded. He and Dianne made some calls to other family members. Another daughter, Donovan Davis, made urgent plans to travel from her home in Florida to be at her father’s side in Missouri.

The surgery to remove the mass from Fred’s lung concluded at midnight and was successful. The entire mass had been removed; no follow-up radiation or chemotherapy would be needed. The next day, Fred felt pretty good.

“The service was amazing,” Dianne says. “My father was diagnosed and cured in one day.”

Dr. Thompson attributes Fred’s recovery to his positive attitude.

Prior to his surgery, Fred told the surgeon about his experience in Bougainville during the war. As a young Marine, he had been convinced that he would die during the intense combat on the island. His survival changed his outlook on life.

“I’ve seen this in some patients who’ve faced death before,” Dr. Thompson says. “They lose their fear of dying.”

Fred remained upbeat about retaining his independent lifestyle, as well. Boone Hospital occupational therapy assistant, Cayla Viers, advised him on how he could make his home safer, and the family arranged for visits from Boone Hospital Home Care.

After a week in the hospital, Fred went home with Dianne and Donavan.

“Boone Hospital is where I wanted to be,” he says.

November Employee of the Month enjoys caring for everyone in our community

November 4, 2014

Ty Hamilton is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for November 2014. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

As a respiratory therapist, Ty Hamilton’s skills are needed on every inpatient unit at Boone Hospital Center.

“We work with the entire population, from neonates to geriatrics,” he says. “One day I may be in the labor and delivery unit watching someone being born and then, that same night, taking care of someone near the end of life.”

Ty Hamilton

Ty’s role involves, as he puts it, “anything having to do with breathing,” a range that goes from treating patients for asthma or allergic reactions to running a patient’s life support equipment.

Born and raised in southeast Missouri, Ty came to Columbia as a student at the University of Missouri Columbia. He first experienced Boone Hospital Center while shadowing respiratory therapists, after he decided he wanted to enter the University’s respiratory therapy program.

Ty found he liked living in Columbia, particularly for its diversity. After graduating, he applied for a respiratory therapist position and joined the Boone Hospital Center team in January 2002.

Ty has worked on the night shift all 12 years, but he doesn’t mind it. “It took a while to get acclimated to it,” he says, “But it’s not bad.”

Among the many reasons he likes working at Boone Hospital Center, Ty says he enjoys caring for a variety of patients.

“I like the infusion of people from the community,” Ty says. “The patients who come here like this hospital. They brag about this hospital. And you build a rapport with some patients.”

He also enjoys the teamwork both in the respiratory therapy department and across all areas of the hospital, from patient care to maintenance, in taking care of patients.

Ty enjoys spending most of his free time with his children, Taylor and Kyren, fishing in conservation areas around mid-Missouri, and watching basketball games.

Above all, Ty says that he takes prides in being part of Boone Hospital Center. “It’s been wonderful watching Boone grow,” he says. “That’s one of the best things about working here.”

Questions about Ebola?

October 22, 2014


BJC HealthCare has created an informational page regarding Ebola that is frequently updated with new information.  Boone Hospital Center is part of the BJC HealthCare system.

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.”

WELLAWARE Group Fitness Classes Can Help Improve Your Strength and Coordination

September 30, 2014

by Heidi Salter, WELLAWARE Group Fitness Instructor

Boone Hospital Center WELLAWARE offers a variety of group exercise classes, including yoga and Zumba. Each class is adaptable to all levels of interest, age, ability and vocation.

One of our physicians, Kimberly Jamison, MD, recently started yoga and shared that the movements used during yoga are much like those learned in physical therapy, held longer for continued muscular endurance. Dr. Jamison says, “It’s silly not to take advantage of these classes and the WELLAWARE fitness center.”

To start and continue healthy habits, it’s important to enjoy them. Group exercise classes encourage you to become as healthy and fit as you are able. Shari Bullard, a Boone Hospital Center employee, really enjoyed taking our Zumba Gold class. She appreciates that the group laughs and has a good time together.

group exercise all ages

“The instructors are encouraging and don’t make you feel bad when you modify the exercise based on your personal abilities,” Bullard says.

The classes encourage physical activity, provide accountability, camaraderie and relaxation, and offer endless physiological benefits, including:

  • Feeling more energized as a result of class participation on a regular basis. As your body adapts to the increased exercise, everyday activity becomes easier.
  • Increased flexibility, coordination, posture and improved balance can lower your risk of injury and falls later in life.
  • Strengthening bones and muscles reduces risk of injury and slows progression of osteoporosis.
  • Increased metabolism leads to weight loss, leaner muscles and fitting into your clothes better.
  • Improved cardiorespiratory fitness. As the body becomes more efficient with exercise, blood pressure and pulmonary function improve or can slow progression of heart and lung disease.
  • Improved circulation from increased blood flow, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  • More efficient use of naturally occurring insulin. As your body becomes more active, it is better able to utilize insulin to control blood glucose levels and decrease risk of type II diabetes.
  • Improved immune system. Your body is strengthened systemically and is less likely to succumb to viruses. You also gain a boosted ability to recover from injury and illness.
  • Mental benefits of exercise include improved concentration, decreased stress and increased feelings of wellbeing as a result of the chemical serotonin being released into the brain.  

Although each class has a different style, all are appropriate for most anyone interested.

Yoga offers a low to moderate intensity that is appropriate for nearly everybody, including individuals living with chronic diseases or recovering from an injury or illness. A delightful member of WELLAWARE fitness center and yoga enthusiast Tammy Winfrey says, “You get to enjoy 60 minutes of your own quiet time during the class.” She encourages anyone to come and try it out — people of all different ages, shapes and sizes enjoy the class.

Zumba makes exercising to dance styles such as the merengue, salsa, cha-cha, cumbia, tango, hip-hop and rock easy to follow so that everyone, at any age, can have fun doing it. This is an excellent way to burn calories in a fun environment. The Zumba class gets you moving aerobically while strengthening key muscle groups including the core (abdominals).

Zumba Gold is less intense than Zumba. The instructor has experience working with beginning exercisers, active mature adults and special populations.

Body Conditioning helps to reduce stiffness and tension through focused stretching and core muscle toning.

Pilates is all about creating long, lean muscles through developing the core and improving balance. Modifications will be learned in order to feel progression throughout the course of these sessions.

Qigong is the Chinese practice of aligning body, breath and mind for health, relaxation, and martial arts training.

Classes are now accepting registrations for fall 2014 sessions. To register or see our schedule of current and upcoming classes, visit boone.org/wellaware/group today!

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.


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