Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 18, 2011

Healthy choices more than just career path for nurse

Noteworthy Neighbor

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Life’s lessons can often be the most effective form of motivation and sometimes those learned the hardest bring about even more positive changes.

For D.J. Gentry, a registered nurse at Pauls Valley General Hospital, those lessons were watching the results of what happens when one does not make healthy choices through her own family. Growing up and seeing the problems they went through along with some of her own challenges has given her more than a career, it is a reason to reach out to the community.

“My personal family has gone through so many things and the assistance needed was not available or we didn’t know how to find it,” said Gentry, who was born in Seminole and grew up in Fittstown near Ada. “Prevention in our family was not key.”

Since Gentry graduated from East Central University in 1986, she has been able to focus on her passion of preventative medicine from small hospitals in areas like Sulphur to a larger hospital in Little Rock Arkansas. She started working at PVGH in 2009 to research a diabetic wellness program and it has since transformed into something the whole region can take advantage of.

Some of Gentry’s other duties include offering services at the new Women’s and Childrens Clinic, child birth classes and a free monthly foot assessment clinic. She believes preventative medicine is an adjustment anyone can do from monitoring blood sugar to following recommended dietary instructions.

“I’ve worked with several hospitals, but I’m really impressed with the attitude over the past few months,” said Gentry. “Everybody’s coming back together for the betterment of healthcare in the community.”

Part of this outreach is just around the corner as the Hospital is set to partner with Main Street Pauls Valley to bring a health conscious edge to this year’s Boo on the Bricks. Monday Oct. 31st will still be filled with kids rushing from one downtown business to another in search of treats, but it will also become a healthy game for participating youngsters.

This is through the creation of a walking trail called Jack Track Health Challenge on Boogie Man Block and basically creates a one mile route kids can follow while they fill up their candy bags, said Gentry. Along the way there will be a series of checkpoints, from 2-7 p.m. where kids can get areas checked off with a reward activity after they have been to every station.

This replaces the more traditional trick or treat in the hospital hallways tradition, but is seen as something which only has more potential for the future, said Gentry. She also said a special surprise bit of entertainment where everyone can get in on the fun has been planned and people are being asked to stick around until the evening.

The ambulance services will still represent the hospital by handing out candy downtown and another hospital employee, Austin Higgins, will set up a petting zoo with his own animals, said Gentry. If people want to find out how they can help with the healthy fun, they can call the hospital at 405-238-5501.

“We’re promoting wellness by this walking trail,” said Gentry, who first approached Main Street to do the healthy theme. “What we’re trying to do is build a safe area for kids to trick or treat and have entertainment that night.”

When she has a moment to catch her breath, Gentry enjoys spending her time off with her husband David, who is a retired speech therapist and her two children Jarret and Justin. Of course, she will eventually get to see her first grandchild, Jocelyn, join in on Halloween fun.

“It’s because of these people I have the passion to find the information they need,” said Gentry. “I absolutely love my job, love what I do and I have fallen in love with the community.”