by Traci Chapman, Staff Writer
For Teresa Bomhak, working in an emergency room is everything she could want in a position – the opportunity to help those in need on the front lines, a dream team of both a supervisor and co-workers and an employer that understands how she approaches nursing make for a pretty perfect working life, she says.
“We have a great group of nurses in the ED, and I love working with our team – we are truly blessed to have a great support group,” Bomhak said. “Our ED supervisor is amazing and always there to lend a helping hand when we need it.”
That group is the emergency department team at Mercy Hospital El Reno, where Bomhak serves as charge nurse. It’s a fast-paced, ever-evolving atmosphere that revolves around teamwork, not just within the emergency department, but throughout the 45-bed hospital.
“When other departments need assistance, I work with them to get the problems resolved,” she said.
It’s a job she said she was meant to do, but not where she started out. In fact, now entering her ninth year in nursing, Bomhak said sometimes it seems unreal it hasn’t been longer.
But, while Bomhak wasn’t always a nurse, she always knew that caring for people was her calling, she said. She worked as a paramedic for 17 years before heading back to Rose State College for her associates in nursing degree.
She became an RN in March 2009 – but, even before Bomhak made the switch, she knew what working in the emergency room was all about, assigned as a hospital-based paramedic and working in that department when not responding to emergency services calls, she said.
It was a great job and something she loved. But, something that might have been seen by many as a life-changing setback changed the now 54-year-old’s path, when she was involved in a 19-car automobile accident. Dearing with a fractured sternum and unable to lift patients as she had in the past, the longtime paramedic had a choice – to give in or turn what could be seen as a negative situation into something even better.
“I loved doing what I did and didn’t want to give up patient care, so I went back and pursued my nursing degree,” Bomhak said.
Working for Mercy Hospital El Reno was really a no-brainer. A self-described country girl living with her husband of 17 years on a farm outside El Reno, treating people in her own community was not only fulfilling; it also met a deeper purpose.
Deeply faithful, Bomhak said Mercy’s mission resonated with her own faith. The tenets of Sisters of Mercy, the basis of everything the giant health care provider does, began and remain as deeply ingrained into its philosophy – dignity, excellence, justice, service and stewardship.
“While all five values are important to how we make decisions, dignity is the base on which all the others rest,” Mercy’s mission states. “Because all people are created in the image and likeness of God, each person deserves to be treated with respect.”
That philosophy was one true to Bomhak’s heart.
“First and foremost, I am a Christian,” she said. “I love the Lord with all my heart and have been blessed beyond measure.”
That faith sustains Bomhak both personally and professionally. Her blended family of five sons, one daughter and five grandchildren faced the death of one granddaughter the day of her birth; that test only further strengthened her faith and conviction to help others, those who know her said.
“I just want to be able to maintain the ability to help and serve others,” Bomhak said.
That wish was one reason Bomhak and fellow MHER nurse Brooke Wix decided to expand beyond what normally would be seen as emergency room duties. The pair recently completed their SANE – sexual assault nurse examiner – training. Administered by Kathy Bell MS, RN, Tulsa Police Department forensic nursing administrator, the program focuses on treating and guiding specialized nurse examiners in not only identifying injuries, but also collecting evidence and working with advocates who help victims deal with what could be the most traumatic experience of their lives.
Although still in the early stages, Bomhak serves as coordinator of a program ultimately designed to be the first SANE resource in Canadian County – and one she and Wix hope to extend far beyond the El Reno hospital, they said. Already partnered with Women’s Service and Family Resource Center, also located in the Canadian county seat that nonprofit will provide the advocates working with the two sexual assault nurse examiners to help patients move beyond being a victim, Bomhak said.
“We’re currently working on coordinating an office space and getting everything prepared – getting prepared for the sign-off on protocols; we’ve been working with local churches to prepare clothing and care bag donations for the people we’ll be treating,” she said. “We’re so excited to be able to provide this to people locally, who have always been forced to go to Oklahoma City for help.”