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Making a Difference Every Day at OMC: Gena Brucker’s Story

Making a Difference Every Day at OMC:

Gena Brucker’s Story

Gena Brucker wasn’t yet an Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) employee when she came in for a routine doctor’s visit at OMC Women’s Healthcare. She was pregnant, and everything about her pregnancy had been normal until Dr. Brian Israel said he couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat.

After a quick ultrasound, Dr. Israel confirmed that she’d lost the baby. It was a total shock.

“Dr. Israel let us cry,” Gena said. “Then he gave us educational materials and gave us options. We decided that night that we’d get induced.”

To get induced, Gena had to return to OMC’s labor and delivery department, which meant walking down a hall past the nursery. “Walking past that nursery,” she said, “it seemed like the longest hall in the world.”

Shannon, the nurse who would assist with the induction, was waiting at end of hall for Gena. Just as Gena reached her, a baby started crying. “When Shannon heard the cry, she instinctively knew what to do and whisked me away.”

Even though Gena was there to get induced, she was still in denial. “I told Shannon, ‘I need a new ultrasound.’ I thought something was wrong with Dr. Israel’s machine.”

That’s when Carol Powell in radiology took Gena to get another ultrasound. Again, the ultrasound showed that Gena had lost her baby. “Carol touched my leg and said, ‘I am so sorry that we had to meet under these circumstances.’”

“That touch meant a lot,” Gena said. “Carol took the time to acknowledge that this experience sucked.”

After that, Gena began the induction with Shannon. When Shannon mentioned that she’d be giving Gena pain medicine, Gena asked, “Is this going to hurt the baby?”

Hearing her own words, Gena started crying. “Shannon replied by grabbing my hand until the crying subsided. She had great instincts. She knew the reality of my words had hurt me greatly: My baby was gone, and I didn’t have to worry about pain medicine affecting him. Shannon continued to hold my hand as we began the induction.”

Eight hours later Gena delivered her son Rayden, spent some time with him, then had to give him back. “It was my final goodbye,” Gena said.

After she gave Rayden back, Gena had to go into a surgery room for an emergency procedure. “I remember this anesthesiologist with big brown eyes,” Gena said. “And he gets kind of close to my face and whispered, ‘Just breathe.’ I needed to breathe to go to sleep, but he was actually telling me, ‘Just breathe.’ When I heard him say, ‘Just breathe,’ I knew he meant, ‘We got this. You breathe, and we’ll take care of you.’ The saying ‘Just breathe’ has been my motto since Rayden’s death. In moments of deep sorrow the only thing you can do is breathe.”

“Now, nine years later, I still remember the color of that anesthesiologist’s eyes. I can still see what he looks like.”

At that point, four OMC employees had made compassionate gestures towards Gena. Each gesture, though small, was part of her healing journey.

Even as she was leaving OMC, one more person made a difference. “OMC gives you a box when you’ve had a loss, and everything pertaining to the birth is in that box. The person who was wheeling me out of the hospital, a volunteer, took a moment and touched my shoulder. She knew what that box represented.”

That day was August 1, 2008. “That day, I became OMC,” Gena said. “I couldn’t wait to become part of an organization that treats its patients so well.”

Six weeks later, Gena started working for OMC, first in medical records, then in registration. Gena is currently manager of patient access.

“No matter what interaction we have during our workday,” Gena now says, “those interactions make a difference and create a story of compassion and love and understanding. We get to impact patients’ lives. We get to decide how people will remember their experience at OMC and what story they’ll tell others about us. When I think of why I’m at OMC, I think about how every minute I’m here, I can make a difference.”

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