Christie the Gymnast

What do a gymnast and an infant with a trachea tube have in common? They’re among the reasons Nurse Manager Christie Vaughn is at McAlester Regional Health Center. Vaughn manages the 2 West post-surgical nursing unit, with 22 beds for patients of all ages, although most have had general surgery or total joint replacements. Staffing 2 West are 26 nurses and aides, ranging from the new graduates to 25-year veterans. Vaughn is one of those veterans and her first job at MRHC 25 years ago was on 2 West. She’s also been a House Supervisor and informatics nurse before taking the nurse manager role 11 years ago. She’s also been a gymnast.  “I came to OU (University of Oklahoma) to do gymnastics, and worked out with coach Bela Karolyi after his defection from Romania,” she said. Karolyi’s wife Martha Karolyi is wrapping up her final year in Olympic coaching with the Final Five women’s gymnastics team at Rio.  But McAlester’s Christie Vaughn saw more of a future in nursing, born of childhood memories of caring for her baby sister. Christie was only 8 when her infant sister was hospitalized for 9 months, later coming home with a metal trachea tube.  “I remember the pipe cleaners and the peroxide,” Vaughn said of her earliest memories as a caregiver. “Nursing helped me learn to care for my little sister.”  (Her sister Trisha is now fine with a perfectly normal system, Christie said.)  Today, Vaughn helps her “awesome” team care for everyone from the young appendix patient to the geriatric; 2 West team members coordinate schedules with other departments, such as physical therapy to get those total joint replacements walking their first 150 feet.  Most of the 2 West patients are in the hospital for 2 to 3 days, under the careful watch of their primary nursing team, with Christie Vaughn at the helm.