By Linda Friedel, KC Nursing News
Jane Baker is not a certified sheriff, but every now and then she deputizes citizens anyway.
Baker, RN, clinical manager of cardiovascular services at Centerpoint Medical Center, has a message to sell. If that means dressing up like Bat Masterson, so be it. Raise your right hand, please.
“I just thought it would be fun,” Baker said. “It would be a fun way to pay attention to the message.”
Baker was nominated Person of the Year with the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care for her innovative methods in educating people in early heart attack care. Baker dresses in cowboy boots, jeans and a cowboy hat or other creative costumes when she teaches signs and symptoms of heart attacks. She is certified through a program with the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care to deputize people after teaching them about signs and symptoms of a heart attack. She takes her slideshow to community centers in Independence, Blue Springs and Centerpoint Medical Center to educate citizens, employees, patients, visitors and family members and, as she says, anyone who will listen. After Baker’s
PowerPoint presentation, she asks participants to take an oath: “I hereby solemnly swear that when a person in my presence is experiencing the early symptoms of a heart attack, I will make every effort to get this person to go to the nearest hospital emergency room to get those symptoms checked out.” Then she places a badge in their hand.
“I was deputizing whoever would talk to me,” she said. “Visitors, employees — give them the education on early heart attack care. Give them a badge and deputize them.”
Baker’s sense of humor and her sense of compassion resonates with everyone from children to senior citizens, said Michelle Meyer, RN-BC, director of cardiovascular services at Centerpoint. Meyer said Baker has been impacting the community for more than 30 years.
“She’s got a wonderful demeanor. She’s fun,” Meyer said. “She’s got a wonderful sense of humor.”
Baker is committed to the communities of Blue Springs and Independence where she lives, works and volunteers,
Meyer said. She is especially dedicated to educating people on early heart attack care, Meyer said.
“She’s worked for HCA for over 30 years and served Blue Springs and Independence all those years improving patient outcomes,” Meyer said.
When Meyer started working in cardiovascular services at Centerpoint, Baker challenged her to get the unit more involved in the community. Meyer said she looked around, then decided to partner with the school district’s Dr. Bob
CHARACTERplus program at Thomas Hart Benton elementary school. The program emphasizes role modeling, community partnerships and leadership. The school calls on the cardiovascular team for health initiatives, especially programs that have to do with heart care. When cardiovascular services partnered with the school three years ago, Baker helped to spread the word among her co-workers to volunteer with the project. One by one, staff members began taking turns volunteering at the elementary school with Baker or Meyer on a monthly basis.
“When you yourself get exited about something, they see you,” Baker said. “They want to be able to help. I’m just very lucky to have such a great group of people to work with."
Baker and other staff members take turns presenting health-care programs, reading stories to children, honoring students for perfect attendance and contributing to the school’s food pantry. Many of the children are from low-income families, Baker said. They appreciate the time and attention from staff members from Centerpoint, she said.
“The kids love it when we come in,” Baker said. “They respect us. We always try to wear our scrubs.”
Baker said she kept the chatter going among co-workers, encouraging them to participate in the community outreach program in its early days. More and more staff got engaged, she said. They had fun connecting with the students. The program grew. Today, it nearly runs itself, Baker said.
Staff members added a program to repair bicycles for the school’s bike rodeo. Then they launched a Heart Healthy Day at Centerpoint Medical Center in May for the fifth-grade students. The program includes a pig dissection, nutrition education, physical therapists, a cardiologist and pulmonary physician and blood pressure checks. The students receive stethoscopes, backpacks, scrubs and masks. Baker coordinates the annual event. This year she counted 75 children.
“It was really fun,” Baker said. “It is extensive. It’s a lot of organization and a lot of staff.”
Baker’s goal is to educate students on heart-healthy habits. The younger the children, the bigger impact they make, she said. Staff members tell students to go home and tell their parents what they have learned. Some of the programs include parent participation where Baker says they can impact the adults. Whether she is working with children, training staff members or deputizing the public at health fairs, Baker says she enjoys role-modeling.
“It means I am hoping to set an example,” she said. “Of course, it’s very rewarding. It makes you feel good.”
Baker has worked in the cath lab at Centerpoint since 1992. She loves the fast-paced work, helping to turn things around for people experiencing heart attacks. The gratification is almost immediate, she said. You are performing life-saving procedures to open vessels and restore blood flow, Baker says. It all happens so fast. It’s a well-oiled team, she said. The cath lab follows strict measures, best practices and standards of care, Baker says. Before patients leave, Baker educates patients on how to stay healthy.
“I love it. It’s exciting. It’s fun,” Baker said. “You see immediate results. They (patients) leave the lab thanking you. It’s rewarding.”