Story by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Debbie Gordon likes helping patients stay away from hospitals by being where they want to be — at home.
“Our goal is to keep our patient in their homes as long as we can, so that they can stay there safely,” said Gordon, a licensed practical nurse at Companion Home Health in Guthrie. “They get to stay in their environment, their comfort zone.”
It was providence that led her to a nursing career, said Gordon, who had never dreamed of being nurse. But it was God’s will, she said.
She’s lent a compassionate hand to patient care at Companion for four years. Gordon also serves as a Companion hospice nurse when needed. And, she re-energizes by doing barrel racing.
This seasoned professional entered the nursing field in 1980 after graduating from Meridian Technology Center, located in Stillwater. Gordon said she likes the hometown feeling of working for Companion that connects with nurses and families without a big corporate image. (story continues below)
“They definitely care about their patients and I feel like they care about their employees,” said Gordon, who enjoys the one-on-one patient time that home health allows her to bond with patients. “You kind of get a closer relationship with your patients doing home health than in the hospitals.”
Home health transcends the simple definition of a job because it centers on patient care. Nurses help them become stronger and educate them about their medications. The staff ensures patients use medications properly without dangerous complications caused by combining non-compatible drugs.
“The patients are important to the nursing staff,” she said. “And they care what happens to the patients.”
Nurses see all walks of life and give everyone the same loving care. They make sure therapy is provided, that patients are dressed and bathed, and have nutrition on a regular basis.
“Every individual is different as far as what the need or might need,” Gordon added.
Diabetes is prevalent, so she teaches patients to monitor their blood sugar every day in order to prevent complications and co-morbidities that are common with the disease.
“It’s important to keep their sugars within normal range because if they don’t it affects all kinds of different functions in their body, their eyes, their kidneys, circulation and everything,” Gordon explained.
Patients can still go to church, get prescriptions and get their hair styled. However, they are not supposed to drive, shop for groceries or go to the mall.
“They don’t have to be tied to home, but they can’t be out running around,” Gordon said. “It’s a taxing effort for them to do that.”
Patients have not mentioned a lot about COVID and the new Delta variant that is spreading across the state, Gordon said.
“Their biggest question is ‘Have you been vaccinated?’ Surprisingly, I have not had a lot of COVID questions. I’ve actually dealt with more frustration from it than questions about it. I know the patients that we have in assisted living facilities — it was very difficult for them not to be able to see their family.
The nurses always wear masks to help prevent the spreading COVID. But several patients have said to her, “I don’t want you to wear that mask.”
Gordon explains to them that she’s required to wear a mask in order to protect them from contracting the disease.
Gordon is well seasoned as a nurse in her career of about 40 years. Experience brings wisdom.
She went to college on a rodeo scholarship. And she still performs at rodeos.
Family issues brought her back home from college. Her sister was a nurse. When she learned Debbie had quit school, she said, “Are you just going to be a bum?”
Those words crushed Gordon because she always wanted to make her sister happy.
“So, I just went home that night, and I was lying in bed crying. And I said ‘Lord, I’m lost, and I don’t know what to do. And I need you to guide me.’ And in six months I was in nursing school.”
She never turned her back on nursing or rodeo. Rodeo was in her blood since she started riding a pony at age 5.
“I started competing when I was about 8, and I still do it,” she said of barrel racing. “It’s kind of like a second job for me. I train on my own.”
She keeps five horses of her own and two from her sister that she rides north of Crescent.
Horses are large animals, and they can take advantage of that. But Gordon knows how to earn and keep their respect.
She learned when turning a horse loose, to never let them walk away from her. They stand their until she walks away from them.
They are creatures of habit, sort of like people, she said.
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