In the Good Hands of People You Know

By Doc Arnett, Director of Marketing, SCKMC

There’s a bit of an adage in health care: If you want to know who the good doctors are, ask the people that work with them. Ask the nurses and other staff who’d they go to if they needed surgery. So, when it came time for Shelia Thurber to decide where to go for treatment, for her it was a no-brainer.

She has worked at SCKMC as a patient ambassador for two-and-a-half years. Among other things, Shelia focuses on helping make their stay at the hospital more comfortable by taking time to get their food orders right. She personally prepares their desserts. Helping others is important to her and it shows in how she does her job. She is known for her helpful manner and her broad, friendly smile.

Through her work at the hospital, the Texas native has come to know several of the nursing staff members pretty well. That personal knowledge was a huge part of Shelia’s recent decision to have a medical procedure done where she works here in Ark City instead of traveling to Wichita.

“I know those nurses in Surgery do a good job,” she explained. “So, I told my doctor I wanted to have that epidural done right here.” The procedure is fairly well known for effectively blocking pelvic pain during childbirth while allowing the mother to remain fully conscious. It’s possibly less well known as one of the options for treating some specific cases of severe back pain.

Shelia needed it for the latter reason. “I’ve got some discs that are grinding together.”

It’s rare that anyone who has watched someone else undergo the procedure wants to trade places with them. The last time I witnessed it, I passed out on the floor. Seriously. Having a needle inserted into your spinal column rarely shows up on anyone’s bucket list. Anecdotal reports and eyewitness accounts suggest that it registers somewhere between “extremely painful” and “excruciating.”

“Brenda (Richards) could see I was really in a lot of pain and really scared. She came over and held my hand and told me ‘Breathe.’ She and Shauna (Schalk) were just great. That’s why I love and trust them so much… just to feel her hand touch my hand helped me so much. Those girls really do know their stuff and they’re good at it.”

The personal touch even included the chance to pick her own music.

“The doctor was going to put on some other music but I told them, ‘I’ve got my music right here—Justin Timberlake on Pandora.’” Shelia pauses and grins, “I just handed them my phone and we listened to Justin the whole time I was in there.”

That’s sort of how friends and neighbors do things, isn’t it? You know, that old treat others the way you’d like to be treated thing.

“Those girls deserve recognition for what they do and the way they do it,” she insists. She looks me straight in the eye and says, “You make sure you do that.”