RN Helps Healthcare Professionals Identify and Assist Oklahoma Young At Risk of Suicide
After witnessing the tragic death of a young woman admitted to his hospital with self-inflicted wounds, Gary Dean Parker, PhD, MS, BSN, pledged to help his employer, Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City, to aggressively fight to protect lives from suicide, the second leading cause of death for young Oklahomans.
For his tremendous efforts toward this cause, Parker received the prestigious Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. He is one of only 10 honorees nationwide in 2007.
The award is granted annually by Cherokee Uniforms to recognize nurses and other non-physician healthcare professionals who demonstrate exceptional service, sacrifice and innovation and have a positive impact on others' lives. This is the 5th year the leading designer and manufacturer of healthcare apparel has honored inspirational caregivers.
"As a nurse, helping another person at one of the lowest times in their life is one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences you can have."
For months, Parker, who serves Mercy Health Center as manager of clinical education and research, attended meetings for the state's Youth Suicide Prevention Council, met with suicide prevention experts and networked with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and other organizations. He became an instrumental part of the training process for youth suicide prevention and intervention programs in the state.
"When I started off doing the suicide training, I never would have dreamt that I would teach over 2,200 doctors, nurses, teachers and school counselors," says Parker."The greatest joy I receive as a nurse is knowing that I am making a difference."
Not only has he convinced the administrators at Mercy Health Center to adopt the program, one of the state's premier nursing schools now includes it in their curriculum. Parker tirelessly works to invite other Oklahoma hospitals to implement the program, and he has presented his findings at both the state nursing research conference and the international health conference in China.
Parker was nominated for the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Awardby Oklahoma Youth Suicide Prevention initiative's Jessica Hawkins, who says,"Gary has gone above and beyond his normal duties to ensure his hospital is doing all they can to prevent future tragedies and to create the best possible outcomes for their patients and young Oklahomans across the state. Due to his leadership, his willingness to take action and his passionate advocacy for patient health and safety, Oklahoma is making significant strides in the prevention of suicide."
As a National Winner in the award's Registered Nurse category, Parker receives an all-expense-paid trip to a 2008 medical conference of his choice, an annual membership to his preferred clinical association, a crystal award and a wardrobe of Cherokee healthcare apparel. He also will appear in the nationally distributed Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award 2008 calendar.
Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, more than 5,300 healthcare professionals have been nominated in the Registered Nurse, Advanced Practice Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse, Student Nurse and Non-Physician Healthcare Professional categories. A panel of nursing professionals and Cherokee representatives evaluates nominations and grants the awards.
For every nomination received in 2007, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1 to national health-centered charities. The total amount was divided equally among the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the Alzheimer's Association. Since 2005, Cherokee has donated over $3,300. Proceeds from Cherokee Uniforms products support healthcare professionals through initiatives such as the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award, an annual calendar and the A Nurse I Am Film and Scholarship Program. Cherokee Uniforms will be accepting nominations for the 2008 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award beginning March 1, 2008 through May 31, 2008.