Desiree Gower, RN, BS, CEN has found the flexibility in her nursing career she always wanted at Interim Healthcare of OKC.

by Bobby Anderson, RN, Staff Writer

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a lot of soul-searching in many healthcare professionals. Unprecedented times have brought about unprecedented stresses.
For ICU nurse Desiree Gower, RN, BS, CEN, the soul-searching led to career fulfillment she never thought possible.
Now a clinical supervisor at Interim HealthCare of OKC, Gower is once again enjoying her chosen profession.
“It’s probably been the most fulfilling,” she said. “I still miss the adrenaline of acute care but my heart is fuller. I feel like I have a bunch of family members out here.”
Gower started her career in Ada as a nurse aide before finishing her LPN. From there she went to Pauls Valley and got her RN degree while working in critical access.
The emergency department in Norman was her next step before moving up to the ICU at OU Health. (story continues below)

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At every stop, Gower’s skill level increased.
So did the stress.
It was last summer when she made the jump to Interim.
Gower’s father had recently passed as her ICU unit was moving to Covid care exclusively.
“We had all these people that were dying. It was just time. I wasn’t dealing well with people not having their family members there,” she said.
Now in a supervisory role, Gower gets to teach nurses how to teach their patients.
“I’ll tell you, I was a really good ICU nurse and I could manage drips and run a code and all that, but it’s not the same as sitting on someone’s couch and teaching them how to do their antibiotics,” she said. “You learn what makes them happy. It’s more fulfilling.
“With this, I get to teach them how to manage their health and do better.”
And do better with more complex care that the patient themselves are in charge of in their home.
Gower graduated nursing school in 2005. The types of healthcare delivered in a home setting have grown exponentially since that time.
“Some of the things we do now in the home I never would have imagined doing,” Gower said. “I could never have imagined when I graduated LPN school that I would see a PleurX drain in the home.
“I think we’re seeing things that are more acute in the home.”
Infusions, drains and more extensive wound care orders are just the tip of the iceberg.
“People are just staying home longer and living longer,” she said.
With a constantly-increasing skillset, the old stereotype that home health is where nursing skills go to die has been shattered.
“The funny thing is I feel like I use my skills more,” Gower laughed. “You can’t just step out in the hall and say ‘Hey, can you bring me another butterfly.’”
From non-medical senior care, skilled nursing services and hospice care, Interim offers services in Canadian, Cleveland, Grady, Kingfisher, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Oklahoma, Payne, and Pottawatomie Counties.
Interim HealthCare of Oklahoma City is a U.S Veteran owned, nurse-led business.
For Gower, the change in pace was a breath of fresh air. She felt revitalized as a nurse and found more of those connections she had been missing.
The move to Interim was also felt by her family.
“Flexibility,” Gower said of what she enjoys most now. “And I think anybody who has worked in acute care, you get where everybody is the same in the bed. They’re all in a gown. It’s a sterile environment. I get to see people at home. I get to meet their dogs and know what they like to do.
“It’s kind of holistic versus just kind of task-oriented in the hospital.
“The great thing was I could make more money and still pick my kid up from school,” Gower continued.
The pandemic is still ongoing, but Gower and her staff have a different view, one that doesn’t exact such a crushing toll every shift.
The Covid patients Gower’s staff works with are post-acute, which allows nurses to be able to be there to help with the sometimes lingering after-effects of the disease.
The relationships built in the home run both ways.
“It’s an extension of their family,” Gower said. “They develop that trust and rapport. It’s not the same as going to the hospital and having a different nurse for 12 hours and repeating over and over and over for your whole stay.”
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