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Diana Schaeffer, MPH, MSN, APRN-CNP, has spent 40 years as a nurse and now treats patients from all over the world.

by Mike Lee, Staff Writer

When Claire Carrick received the news that her son Noah had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma it hit her with a force she had never felt.
When she learned that her 18-month-old’s best shot at a cure was on another continent the pediatric optometrist and her husband packed a few suitcases at their Manchester, England home and got on an airplane.
Luckily for Noah’s family, Diana Schaeffer, MPH, MSN, APRN-CNP and the ProCure Proton Therapy Center were waiting to receive them.
“I was quite frightened. We didn’t know what to expect,” Carrick said. “We didn’t know what the treatment would entail. We were uprooted to somewhere that was completely different. Diana was there to talk us through.”
Schaeffer’s speciality is pediatric cancer patients, both foreign and domestic.
ProCure maintains a contract with the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. Patients from England, Scotland and Wales will find their way to Oklahoma and Schaeffer.
Word has traveled quickly about what ProCure has to offer bringing in patients even from China and Bahrain.
“It’s very difficult,” Schaeffer said. “If you can imagine your world being turned upside down by a cancer diagnosis with your child and now you have to pick up and take your child where you don’t know anybody. You don’t know where you’ll be staying and you have no idea who these people are that you’re going to hand your child over to.”
Schaeffer’s nursing career began in an emergency room setting. From there she worked for an insurance company doing utilization review. A master’s in public health followed as did a position as the chief of nursing services for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
She earned her APRN in the process.
“I just felt a need to put that to work,” Schaeffer said.
In 2012 she found ProCure.
“You know, when you’re trained as a nurse you’re kind of trained with some cultural sensitivity but you really aren’t quite trained to deal with day-to-day how to live and how to entertain them daily while they’re here. Most of your training is hospital-based but we’re not a hospital.”
Many out-of-town visitors will stay at the nearly Staybridge Hotel, which nurses have nicknamed “The Colony.”
But they have almost daily appointments at ProCure.
“It’s very easy to get very close to these families,” Schaeffer said. “I keep in touch with all of them as they go home. I know my patients and my families very well. I see them almost every day.”
Carrick said the 10-week stay in Oklahoma City was difficult but Schaeffer and her husband helped soften the blow.
“She’s on speed dial with us,” Carrick said.
ProCure is one of two proton centers in the nation that treat UK pediatric patients while the country builds their own proton centers.
ProCure Treatment Centers is a privately held health care company dedicated to improving the lives of patients with cancer by increasing access to proton therapy.
The company was founded in 2005 in Bloomington, Ind., and is the first to develop a network of proton therapy centers in cities across the United States.
ProCure’s solution reduces the time, cost and effort necessary to build and operate a facility. ProCure is advancing proton therapy by collaborating with radiation oncology practices and hospitals to develop centers through innovation and improvements in technology, and by providing training at the world’s only educational facility specializing in proton therapy.
Schaeffer also coordinates care with OU Children’s Hospital if patients need chemo in addition to proton therapy. She relays information back to the child’s care team in the UK, acting as their “constant clinical lifeline” as she says. And since no one travels with their family doc, Schaeffer even provides urgent care for any of the family’s needs while here.
“I just kind of fell into it,” Schaeffer said. “I think I’m in the only nurse practitioner in the state that does any kind of radiation oncology and I know that I’m the only proton nurse practitioner.”
Carrick said the nine-hour plane ride to Oklahoma City gave the family plenty of time to wonder what they would encounter across the pond.
Once they arrived there was a definite dose of culture shock. And being in Oklahoma City during the spring meant the Carricks got to hear their first tornado siren.
“Diana was on Facebook with me telling me we were fine,” Carrick said.
The Carricks still have a road to travel. They left in mid-May and Noah’s central line was removed before the travels. That will have to be reinserted on arrival back home.
A kidney function test is scheduled and then an MRI in three months.
But whatever the Carrick’s face, Claire knows they won’t have to face it alone.
“She’s our nurse,” Claire said of Schaeffer. “But she’s our friend now as well.”

Governor Mary Fallin has signed a proclamation declaring June 15, 2015 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Oklahoma. In conjunction with the proclamation, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) is urging Oklahomans to report elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
“When you see something, say something,” said Gail Wettstein, DHS Director of Adult Protective Services (APS). “In Oklahoma, a startling number of our older citizens and neighbors are victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation – regardless of culture, race or income level.”
Elder abuse has become a significant public health and human rights issue in all fifty states. More than 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day and that trend will continue for the next two decades. Most vulnerable Oklahomans who are victims of abuse and neglect are women over the age of 60 and most of the maltreatment occurs in the victim’s own home.
In 2014, Adult Protective Services conducted more than 15,000 investigations into elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and more than 7,000 of the cases were confirmed. 65 percent of the cases were self-neglect and 12.5 percent were caretaker neglect. Abused and neglected older Oklahomans are somebody’s mom or dad, sister or brother, grandmother or grandfather.
If you suspect an older adult is in danger of abuse, neglect or exploitation, call your local DHS office during regular business hours or the statewide Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-522-3511.
Visit the DHS website to learn more about prevention and maltreatment of older adults, terminology about vulnerable adults and adult maltreatment, and warning signs of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
Every vulnerable older adult in Oklahoma deserves a safe environment. DHS, its partner agencies, stakeholders, volunteers and advocates are working to help end elder abuse.

Tammy Williams, LPN and director of nursing at Ash Street Assisted Living Center and owner Joe Chappell provide services for the elderly with their independence in mind.

It’s easy for Joe Chappell to say what he admires about his nursing staff.
“I just admire how compassionate they are,” he said. “You’re only as good as your staff.”
The Chappell family also owns the Golden Age Nursing Center across the street from Ash Creek Place, Willow Creek Care Center in Guthrie and the Golden Oaks Village assisted care living center in Stillwater.
Ash Street Place Assisted Living Center in Guthrie strives to keep its residents at a high quality of life, said Tammy Williams, LPN and director of nursing.
“She doesn’t leave this building at 4 p.m.,” Chappell said. “This building goes home with her on nights, on weekends. She gets phone calls if someone falls. She doesn’t live close. She lives in southern Logan County and I get phone calls from her on a Saturday night at 10 p.m. and she’s here because someone has fallen.”
If someone falls, Williams come up with a plan of correction. She constantly is thinking of ways if something happens to a resident to keep it from happening again, Chappell said.
She knows about challenges people face after an injury.
“Years ago I had been in a car wreck and had my leg broke,” she said. “I was 9 years old. I got out the day after my birthday. And the way the nurses treated me and took care of me made me tell my parents, ‘I’m going to be a nurse.’”
Williams’ talents go beyond nursing, Chappell said. She is also a counselor. Quality nurses are scares and can work anywhere they chose, he said.
“It takes a special nurse to care for the elderly I think,” Chappell said. “You have to have a heart for it because if you didn’t you’d be working somewhere else.”
Williams could work in a doctor’s office and leave at 4 p.m., but she’s attached to her residents at Ash Creek Place.
She can often be seen working crossword puzzles with residents, who tell her stories about how Guthrie used to be.
“I think it needs to be a home environment. You need to love the residents and be able to talk to them,” said Williams who likes to spend her leisure time caring for people.
“I go home and take care of my grandkids,” she said.
At Ash Creek she knows her goal is to keep residents as independent as possible, Williams said. Many times Ash Street Place accepts residents who have been in a nursing home but have become dependent on the assistance they received at a nursing home.
“We have to transition them, kindly, to independence again, because they are expecting more help than we want to provide for them, because our goal is to keep them independent,” Chappell said.
Chappell explains to every resident who moves to Ash Street Place that assisted living means they must be able to self-transfer and get to the dining room. They can do that with an electric cart or a wheel chair, but they need to be able to get out of bed and into the wheel chair to get there, he said.
“We certainly will provide skilled care for someone who gets sick. We may have someone who temporarily can’t get out of a chair for a couple of days, or we don’t think they’re safe walking to the dining room.”
Williams’ expertise is seeing they can provide the appropriate level of care for each resident by doing assessments to ensure the facility can meet their needs. She is on the phone with a doctor when she notices subtle changes in a resident’s health.
“She’s dedicated to it. I never have to worry when an inspection comes in,” Chappell said.
Williams has worked for the Chappell family for 12 years since earning her nursing degree at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. For the last six years she has assisted the residents at Ash Street Place.
Chappell’s grandfather, Leo Chappell, bought the Golden Age Nursing Center when Joe was 5 years old in 1961. Joe’s father had talked him into purchasing the nursing home.
“My granddad bought the building. My dad rented the building from him and owned the business,” Chappell said. He has always said you can walk through Golden Age and see the evolution of the nursing home by going from wing to wing.
Construction is adding 12 rooms to Golden Age today to add to the privacy of its residents, he said. They will be licensed for the same amount of residents, he explained.
“We already have a state-of-the-art gym designed for senior citizens with 16 different machines that are air-pressure powered,” Chappell said of providing a complete workout. “We’re also open to anyone over 50 to work out there free.”
The new wing will also provide a pool in the basement for water therapy and recreation.
A pre-k class will also open four 4-year-olds to attend school in the same manner as what already occurs at Willow Creek and at Golden Oaks.
This intergenerational type of program is growing across the U.S. Children learn tolerance and connectivity to other generations in a time when extended families no longer live together for the most part.
“Not only do the kids entertain the residents, but the residents entertain the kids,” Chappell said. “It puts a spark in the eye of the people that live in the nursing home.”

Dear Searching,
There’s a wide array of housing options available to seniors, but what’s appropriate for your mom will depend on her needs and financial situation. Here’s a rundown of the different levels of senior housing and some resources to help you search.
Independent living: If your mom is in relatively good health and is self-sufficient, “independent living communities” are a good place to start. Typically available to people over age 55, this type of senior housing is usually apartments or town homes that are fully functional. In addition, many of these communities also offer amenities such as meals served in a common dining area, housekeeping, transportation and a variety of social activities.
To locate this type of housing, contact your Area Agency on Aging (call 800-677-1116 to get your local number), or use online services like and Most of these communities are private-pay only, and run anywhere from $1,000 to over $4,000 per month.
If that’s too expensive, another option is “senior apartments,” which are often subsidized by HUD for lower income seniors. You can locate these through your local housing authority or online at – click on “Find Rental Assistance.”
Assisted living: If your mom needs some help with daily living activities, an “assisted living facility” is another option. These facilities provide personal care (like bathing, dressing, eating, going to the bathroom) as needed, as well as meals, housekeeping, transportation, social activities and medication management. Many facilities also offer special care units for residents with dementia. Costs typically run between $2,000 to $5,000 or more per month. Most resident’s pay for assisted living from personal funds, and some have long-term care insurance policies. But, some states now have voucher plans that let you use Medicaid money.
Another similar, but less expensive option to look into is “board and care homes.” These offer many of the same services as assisted living facilities but in a much smaller home setting.
Your Area Aging Agency is again a good resource for finding these facilities, as are the previously listed senior housing locater websites. And for help choosing a facility, the Assisted Living Federation of America offers an excellent guide at
Nursing homes: If your mom needs ongoing medical and personal care, a “nursing home,” which provides 24-hour skilled nursing care, is the next option. To find a good one, use Medicare’s nursing home compare tool at But be aware that nursing home care is very expensive, costing anywhere between $4,500 and $11,000 per month depending on location. Most residents pay from either personal funds, a long-term care insurance policy, or through Medicaid after their savings are depleted.
Continuing-care retirement communities (CCRC’s): If your mom has the financial resources, a “CCRC” is another excellent option that provides all levels of housing (independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing home care) in one convenient location. But, these communities typically require a hefty entrance fee that can range from $20,000 to $500,000 or more, plus ongoing monthly service fees that vary from around $1,000 to over $5,000. For more information see
Need Help?
Consider hiring an aging life care expert ( who can evaluate your mom’s situation, and find appropriate housing for a fee – usually between $300 and $800. Or, you can use a senior-care advising service like A Place for Mom (, 866-344-8005) for free. (They get paid from the senior living facilities in their network.)
Some other helpful resources include the National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information (, and your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (, which provides free counseling.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Savings Are Depleted Quickly If Not Properly Protected

There’s a tendency to give a silent cheer any time the average life expectancy grows a little longer.
But long life also has its downsides.
“Not everyone will spend all of their retirement years being active and doing all the fun things they planned,” says Mark Cardoza, author of the book “Positioning 4 Retirement.” ( “Many people will end up needing long-term care, such as in nursing homes, and that can be expensive. How to pay for that care is a looming problem for a lot of people.”
Cardoza began learning about long-term care needs when his father became terminally ill about a decade ago. Much of what he learned was not reassuring.
The federal government knew as far back as the 1970s and 1980s that long-term care of aging Americans would become a growing issue, Cardoza says.
“They realized that the American public saw growing old and being cared for as an entitlement,” he says. “Instead of educating people and creating political trauma, they developed what we now know as ‘qualified retirement plans.’ ”
Such plans include the popular 401k plans that many employers offer in lieu of pensions these days. They are attractive because they allow people to defer taxes on the money placed in the account, and some employers offer matching funds.
But retirement savings can be vulnerable when a person needs long-term care, Cardoza says.
The cost of long-term care can deplete retirement savings pretty quickly. One option for offsetting some of the costs is to apply for Medicaid. But in some cases, unless retirement savings are properly protected, they can be considered an asset and must be spent first before Medicaid kicks in, Cardoza says.
He says there are several options for protecting your retirement savings and getting the most out of those dollars you so painstakingly set aside throughout your working years. A few options include:
• Long-term care insurance. A long-term care insurance policy, if properly designed, will provide your family with financial, physical, and emotional resources while protecting your assets. Financially, it is a way to self-insure, using assets to pay for coverage, entirely or while getting through the look-back period. A long-term care insurance policy is a disability plan. It doesn’t replace incomes as a typical disability plan would; instead, it provides income to pay for necessary services in the event of accident, illness, or aging and being unable to do everyday tasks.
• Fixed annuities. An annuity is an insurance product. Money is placed in the annuity with the insurance company’s promise to pay an amount in the future as a lump sum or in intervals over a decided period of time. Fixed annuities are designed to protect your retirement assets from financial catastrophe. They can also provide security and protect your retirement income by providing an income stream either for the rest of your life or for a defined period of time.
• Irrevocable trusts. An irrevocable trust is used to protect assets, minimize estate tax liability, avoid probate, and maintain privacy. These trusts are designed to protect qualified funds, in which taxes could be deferred, and non-qualified funds, for which tax deferrals were not allowed.
Ultimately, Cardoza says, before making any decisions it’s best to consult with a professional who understands the intricacies of retirement planning.
Mark Cardoza was born in Easton, Massachusetts and has lived there ever since with his wife Janice. Together they have raised three children who are now adults.
After graduating from Johnson & Wales College with a degree in Hospitality Management, Mark entered the corporate world. In 1994, he created Whistles Express Restaurant, a diversified restaurant concept. In 2002, Mark was asked to help a family member settle an estate and quickly learned about insurance and its role in estate planning.
In 2006, Mark sold his restaurant and began working full-time in the insurance industry. In 2011, he established M. Cardoza Insurance, Inc. He holds the designation of CLTC (Certified Long Term Care) specialist and is certified in the area of trusts and estate planning.

Now through August 7, the Oklahoma Arts Council is inviting Oklahomans statewide to submit nominations for the 40th Annual Governor’s Arts Awards. Each fall, the Governor presents the awards during a special ceremony at the State Capitol, recognizing individuals and organizations whose efforts in the arts have made an impact in communities, schools, or across the state.
The 2015 Governor’s Arts Awards marks a banner year for the event.
“This year, we celebrate not only the 40th anniversary of the Governor’s Arts Awards, but the 50th anniversary of the Oklahoma Arts Council,” Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said. “Ten years into our existence, in 1975, we recognized a need to honor individual Oklahomans and specific organizations that play invaluable roles in making the arts flourish across our state. Forty years later, we proudly carry on the tradition. The nomination process allows us to learn about those whose contributions, sacrifice, and dedication merit recognition by the Governor and the Council.”
Awards are presented in several categories:
Governor’s Award – recognizes individuals for longtime leadership and significant contributions to the arts across Oklahoma.
Arts in Education Award – recognizes an individual, organization, school, educator or group for their outstanding leadership and service in the arts benefitting youth and/or arts in education.
Business in the Arts Award – recognizes businesses/corporations who exhibit outstanding support of the arts in Oklahoma. This award was created in memory of Earl Sneed, prominent arts advocate.
Community Service Award – recognizes individuals for significant contributions to the arts in specific Oklahoma communities in the areas of leadership and volunteerism.
Media in the Arts Award – recognizes an individual member in the media who demonstrates commitment to the arts in Oklahoma documented through public awareness support and fairness, initiative, creativity and professionalism in reporting. This award was created in memory of Bill Crawford, veteran professional journalist.
George Nigh Public Service in the Arts Award – recognizes an Oklahoma government official for outstanding support of the arts. The category was named in honor of former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh.
Nominees must be current residents of the State of Oklahoma and living in Oklahoma full time, or organizations/businesses that work in and for the benefit of Oklahoma. Previous recipients of the Governor’s Award are not eligible. Honorees will be selected by the Governor’s Arts Awards Selection Committee, which is comprised of members of the Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board and may include past Governor’s Award recipients.
An online nomination form and a downloadable nomination form are available at Deadline for submissions is Friday, August 7.
For more information, contact Joel Gavin, Oklahoma Arts Council director of marketing and communications, at (405) 521-2037 or

Date/ Day/ Location/ Time/ Registration #/ Instructor
June 16/ Tuesday/ Edmond/ 1:30 -3:00 pm/ 210-6798/ Palinsky
AARP State Office – 126 N. Bryant Ave. “WNTT (We Need To Talk) Seminar Free”
Jun 27/ Saturday/ Moore/ 9 am – 3;30 pm/ 735-9638/ Palinsky
1st Methodist Church – 201 W. Main
July 2/ Thursday/ Okla. City/ 9:30 am – 4 pm/ 951-2277/ Palinsky
Intergis 3rd Age Center – 5100 N. Brookline
July 10/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Edwards
S.W. Medical Center – 4200 S. Douglas, Suite B-10
July 10/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ / Palinsky
Brand Senior Center – 501 E. Main
Aug 6/ Thursday/ Okla. City/ 9:30 am – 4 pm/ 951-2277/ Palinsky
Intergis 3rd Age Center – 5100 N. Brookline
Aug 8/ Saturday/ Moore/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 799-3130/ Palinsky
Brand Center – 501 E. Main St.
Aug 13/ Thursday/ Norman/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 440-8802/ Palinsky
Norman Regional Hospital – 901 N. Porter Ave.
Aug 14/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Edwards
S.W. Medical Center – 4200 S. Douglas, Suite B-10
Aug 18/ Tuesday/ Yukon/ 9 am – 3;30 pm/ 350-7680/ Edwards
Dale Robertson Center – 1200 Lakeshore Dr.
The prices for the classes are: $15 for AARP members and $20 for Non-AARP. Call John Palinsky, zone coordinator for the Oklahoma City area at 405-691-4091 or send mail to:

By John D. Doak, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner

An estimated $60 billion is lost each year around the country to Medicare fraud. And whether you’re on Medicare or not, everyone pays the price for healthcare fraud, errors and abuse with higher insurance payments and costs for medical services and equipment.
Because healthcare fraud is such an important issue, the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s Medicare Assistance Program is hosting a series of free events to help seniors fight scams. Experts will talk about the many different types of fraud targeted at seniors.
Here are three things you can do now to prevent Medicare fraud:
1. Protect Your Information
There are numerous schemes used to steal from you and Medicare. But no crook can succeed unless he has your Medicare or Social Security number.
• NEVER give out your Medicare or Social Security number to strangers even if they claim to be with a doctor’s office, medical supply company or Medicare.
• REMOVE your Social Security number from your checks. You can replace it with a driver’s ID number.
• DO NOT CARRY your Medicare card in your purse or wallet. Carry an “In Case of Emergency” card instead.

2. Check Your Medicare Statements
Always check your Medicare Summary Notices (MSN). These statements come in the mail and are marked “This is not a bill.” This notice tells you what services were paid for by Medicare. It is your responsibility to make sure the charges are correct. Check for:
• Duplicate payments for the same service
• Dates of service on the MSN compared to the dates you received the service
• Items or services you did not receive
• Billing for medical equipment or services your doctor did not order
3. Report Any Concerns
If you find discrepancies on your MSN, or you suspect fraud when someone offers or gives your free services or equipment, report it immediately.
• Call the company or doctor first to question the charge and ask them to correct it with Medicare.
• Contact your supplemental insurance company. If Medicare overpaid, your supplemental carrier likely overpaid too.
• If you don’t feel comfortable contacting the provider, call the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s Medicare Assistance Program at 1-800-763-2828.
The Senior Fraud Conferences will have more information on common scams targeting seniors. We encourage you and your loved ones to attend. These free events will be held in cities around the state from May to June.
For a list of locations and to register online, visit or call 1-800-763-2828.

Areawide Aging Agency Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is committed to working with residents, families and facility staff to improve the quality of life of residents in long-term care. Volunteers are an integral part of our mission. We are looking for volunteers who would like to make a difference in the life of a resident.
What are Ombudsmen?
Ombudsmen are advocates who identify, investigate and resolve individual and system level complaints that affect residents in long term care settings.
What does an Ombudsman Do?
• Visit residents weekly for two hours • Help residents articulate needs •Investigate and resolve complaints • Advocate for system and legislative changes • Educate residents of their rights
• Monitor conditions and care • Provide a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves
Who can be a Volunteer?
You Can! Volunteers need to be over 18 years old. We provide the training and any support you might need after you become certified. Areawide Aging Agency’s next scheduled training for new volunteers will be July 29th and 30th 2015. The training will be held at Areawide Aging Agency located at 4101 Perimeter Center Drive Ste. 310, Oklahoma City, OK. The training will begin at 9:30 AM and last until 3:30 PM on both days. Training is free and the public is invited to attend. Attending the training is the first step towards becoming a certified volunteer; however, attending the training in no way obligates you to become a volunteer. If you would like more information or would like to attend the training, please contact Erin Davis, Ombudsman Supervisor at 405-942-8500.

Are you experiencing pain and stiffness in your shoulder? Have movements such as reaching and throwing become more difficult? Join us for a FREE Shoulder Pain Lunch-and-Learn Thursday, June 25, at noon, with Zak Knutson, M.D.
Dr. Knutson is an orthopedic surgeon on staff at Bone and Joint Hospital at St. Anthony. He received his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma, College of Medicine. He completed his residency at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and his fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Department of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery in New York.
The lunch-and-learn will be held in the Education Center at Bone and Joint Hospital at St. Anthony, 1111 N. Dewey Ave., Oklahoma City. The luncheon is FREE, but space is limited. Please call (405) 979-7814 to register.