by James Coburn – staff writer
Children’s resilience is what Paula Deguzman Trina, RN, loves about working as the director of the pediatric emergency department at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital.
“They come in because they have a problem, they have a medical issue and you provide the best care you can,” Trina said. “We work with a team of physicians, RTs (respiratory therapists) nurses, our child life specialists. It’s amazing. You get patients better and it’s rewarding, especially when the family is grateful for the super care you provided. It feels really good.”
U.S. News and World Report recognized Oklahoma Children’s Hospital for being one of the top 50 hospitals for cardiology and heart surgery, also for gastroenterology and GI surgery in 2022-23. (story continues below)
Children who have never been diagnosed with diabetes come to the ER with their blood sugar at dangerous levels. They are sick and need ICU care, Trina said. ER nurses stabilize their patients before transferring them to an intensive care unit. And it’s great for ER nurses to learn from other nurses that the patient was able to return home after being ill. She feels enriched knowing she is part of a team that was part of the child’s successful return to their home and family.
Nursing school does not expose students to everything they will experience as an emergency department nurse, Trina said. She recommends getting ER exposure through leadership clinicals or clinical rotations. Students having a preceptor in the ER will help them decide if the emergency department is a good fit in their career.
Parents often accompany their child to the ER. Being in an ER for a child can be scary for them, but there are things the nursing staff can do to distract them. Music and therapy dogs are often good ways to sooth a child. The child’s mother is often at their son or daughter’s side speaking to them as well, followed by a hug.
“We don’t focus on the procedure itself,” Trina said.
Trina greets a child is gentle conversation. She will ask them how they’re doing before starting an IV. She shows the child all the equipment she will be using. A child life specialist may join them with an iPad as a distraction. Trina will meet the child where he or she is in life by calling an IV a medicine straw.
“Sometimes we play. I’ll show them a stethoscope and say, ‘Here, you listen to me while I listen to you,’” she said. “Hey, you’re going to need this medicine straw to make you feel better.”
The therapy dogs work wonders for the nurses, too. They will come to visit beside them at the nurses’ station.
Trina always wanted to become a pediatrician when she was growing up. But she decided against going to med-school. Her friends and cousins are nurses and she followed their course as a stepping stone in life.
Oklahoma Children’s Hospital is a bright, cheerful place for anyone to enter. There are butterfly mobiles hanging from the lobby ceiling.
“I just fell in love with it when I started working here,” she said.
Trina began her nursing career 10 years ago at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital’s emergency department soon after earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the Kramer School of Nursing at Oklahoma City University. Trina’s first degree was earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She also has a master’s degree in nursing focusing on leadership, one that was 90 percent funded by OU Medical Center.
She was promoted to director of the ER in 2019.
Trina moved to Oklahoma from California with the idea of gaining experience as a nurse for about two years before returning home. As a new graduate she grew to love her patients and family of coworkers.
“I loved working with kids and just stayed and have been here since,” she said.
She found a nursing staff that advocates for the patients. Nurses bond together to improve patient care, she said. This family spirit proved to be valuable when facing the COVID-19 pandemic, Trina said.
Challenge strengthens the nursing staff’s altruistic spirit. Nurses purchase toys for children and items families list as needs. They will ask the kids for a wish list, go shopping and deliver that to the family on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.
Trina also has ways of bringing joy and solace to her own life. She likes to spend time traveling with her at their favorite beach.
Trina recommends Oklahoma Children’s Hospital as a stellar place to work because of the people, teamwork, opportunities and benefits.
There was an employee dunk tank get-together recently with even the executives partaking in sitting on the tank.
“We do have fun in every department,” she said. “We’re growing, we’re expanding and it’s pretty exciting.”
For more information about Joining Oklahoma Children’s Hospital visit https://www.ouhealth.com/careers/