by Mike Lee Staff Writer
Denise Bragg has stayed with excellence during her career. The registered nurse has been with Oklahoma Heart Hospital since it opened in 2002 just east of Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Bragg became a nurse 15 years ago after graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. When she started at OHH, she was at the bedside as an OCU nurse. Now she manages Progressive Coronary Care.
“I just saw the atmosphere and the environment, the fact that the nurses have a voice, the leadership in the organization and just the vision of what they’re trying to do. It’s a place I saw myself retiring,” Bragg said. “I still love it. It’s probably the best place in the world in my opinion.”
She oversees a 56-bed Inpatient Unit, 27 beds in the Day Patient area and the Outpatient Cardiac Rehab Center and the Inpatient Cardiac Rehab and the Consierge.
The impatient unit takes any patient that is not critical or having a vascular procedure. They may start in the impatient area, wind up in surgery and go to a different area of the hospital. Most of OHH patients will come through one of these areas during their time in the hospital.
“We take cardiac patients that had a heart attack, patients we are treating medically for heart conditions, congestive heart failure, cath patients and procedural patients that have been to cath lab, people who have gotten pace makers, have had ablation studies and that sort of thing,” Bragg said.
There is a 1 to 4 nurse to patient ratio in her area that functions like a step down unit with telemetry. Every patient is monitored. “We do a majority of admissions from the hospital as far as a in-patient area goes,” Bragg said.
Heart recovery is what captured her imagination to stay in her field of nursing. Her original goal was to become a nurse anesthetist. But she decided to stay in management because she feels that OHH is the place that makes a difference in patients’ lives.
“I think we continue to do that. I think the quality and the environment that we offer nursing is outstanding,” she said. Bragg liked seeing patients get better in open heart recovery.
“They have a couple of bumpy days after that, but you love seeing that recovery taking place,” Bragg said.
The hospital was designed in a way to reflect the needs of patients, physicians and family members. Its configuration was designed efficiently with patient comfort in mind.
“We’re nearly 14 years old and I think the design has held up pretty well,” Bragg said. “We’re the first hospital in the Oklahoma City area to not limit visitation in the critical care. Families have always been allowed to be at the bedside with the patient.”
OHH pioneered the use of the electronic medical record. This experience was difficult but intriguing, but Bragg wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, she said.
“It helps us with our patient care. I think it helps us with safety,” she said.
The hospital’s design serves as a convenience for the clinical team so they can care for their patients without having to leave the area,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of support services. The nurse is responsible for doing a lot of that care at the bedside. So I think that enhances, patient safety, patient care, patient satisfaction. It leaves it in the nurses’ hands.”
Nurses do their own lab work and EKGs and know when to expect those test results back. This makes the care highly efficient, Bragg said of the physicians’ vision when they designed a state-of-the-art hospital setting.
“Leadership has been very supportive of the vision,” Bragg said. “They had a vision of having a lot of staff at the bedside to take care of the patients”
Leadership provided the staff with the equipment, tools and the voice to make changes, she said. They are empowered to keep up with what is changing in an ever changing world, Bragg said.
Cuts have been made, but not at the bedside. Cuts have been made in contracts to be consistent in what is ordered.
“So I think it’s just an amazing place. I think the staffing ration and the team really has a voice — the fact that they are treated as part of a team — that sort of environment that if you see something and you think it can be made better, it gets addressed,” Bragg said.
Bragg also takes good care of herself. She likes to read and run her fitness center, she considers a hobby along with being outdoors.
I love my work. I like being a nurse,” she said.