by James Coburn – staff writer
Connie McMillan became a registered nurse out of her love for people in need. She recognized the importance of sustaining one’s health while serving in various fields of nursing.
“There’s been a little bit of a personal thing with everything that I’ve done,” said McMillan, who serves as a case manager for All Faith Home Care, located in Edmond. “And it’s touched my life and my family’s life in every aspect of my career. For me it’s just an extension of my faith in being able to be the hands and feet and loving on people when caring for them.”
Compassion is an intrinsic value in every part of her life. And it wouldn’t change a bit even if she was not a nurse. Managing disease processes in the home is paramount in preventing a patient from being hospitalized or going to an emergency room, she said.
“We put out the fire before it ever gets started by managing the care when going in their homes with them. If we can manage at home to help them, it seems to extend their life and their enjoyment to life and quality of life,” McMillan said. “It allows them to maintain their residence in the community among their family and friends.” (story continues below)
It can be difficult to get into a physician’s office on a timely basis. For that reason, home health is the go-between, serving as an extension of care for a physician in the patient’s home, McMillan said. A patient’s condition and symptoms are closely monitored. Any disparity is reported promptly to the patient’s physician.
The independent nursing staff at All Faith Home Care in Edmond works cohesively as a team, McMillan said. They are often alone in the field with little back-up, unless it comes by telephone, she said. So, the nurses have a lot of autonomy to think on their feet while managing the home health of their clients quickly.
“That’s the enjoyable part of it for me. The people that I work with are great support and understanding, and that’s important to me in the nursing field,” McMillan said. “It’s a very aggressive field and it’s important to have people that are there with you and understand the difficulty of the task at hand out in the field, also.”
The education and time All Faith offers their clients is developed by trust. Nurses have a one-on-one relationship with their patients, allowing them to see things in the home that a physician does not observe.
“They can’t understand what’s keeping this stirred up,” McMillan said. “So, I think that’s the benefit of it.”
All Faith Home Care also relieves the anxiety of family members who may live across town or in another city or state. The relationship between families and nurses is vital, making the nursing team an extension of the family.
“That becomes integral in the whole process of keeping it managed well,” McMillan said.
She became a nurse in 1998 after graduating from nursing school in Charleston, SC. Thereafter, McMillan left West Virginia for Oklahoma four years later and has focused on home health since coming here. She worked for another home health company for two years before serving at All Faith Home Care where she brought her skills as a well-seasoned nurse to Edmond. She recalled beginning her nursing career by serving in labor and delivery. She worked with young families by delivering babies for 15 years.
A need to minister to teenage mothers sparked her interest in nursing. She taught birthing and parenting classes.
Emergency rooms and med/surg was her next venture. She also did risk management for hospitals.
Years have passed, but one thing has remained. McMillan knows she is appreciated by the family and patients she serves. A thank you means a lot.
“It happens not so often. I think they just know that’s who we are,” she said. “And it becomes one of those things that they just trust and understand it’s part of what we do. So, that thank you sometimes surprises them and us. It just comes up from the heart. It’s an emotional response to having people they know really care, and that they can count on and trust to be there for them.”
Some of their patients are young. McMillan has patients in their 20s and 90s. They all have different physical needs. Some require assistance with bathing and dressing and some don’t. Home health aides will come to the home to help them with those needs. But many patients simply require a visit by a nurse.
Michael Boensch, RN, said the elder patients “truly provide people lessons for today for what they have gone through, which is rather unique. They are just a very resilient people. I just like going to see them.”