Brandi Demel has been a registered nurse for 13 years but in her position at Sunflower Diversified Services she is seeing the rewards of offering care and treatment in a new type of environment. Demel is the new full-time nurse at the non-profit agency.
Sunflower serves people with developmental disabilities and delays.
“I have been an emergency room nurse, cardiac nurse and also worked in assisted living,” Demel said. “These experiences have led me to this special kind of nursing here at Sunflower.
“We get to know our clients personally, while supporting each as a whole person,” she explained. “It is so much better than meeting for a few moments during a doctor’s appointment or an emergency. Our team is truly making a difference in supporting independent lifestyles.”
Demel’s colleagues are Rachel Ridgeway and Sandy Allen, both medical support specialists. Ridgeway was recently promoted to this position, while Allen is new to Sunflower.
“Rachel and Sandy are invaluable to me,” Demel commented. There’s nothing like having a good team working beside you. They are 95 percent of the reason I can do my job.”
That job includes coordinating medical appointments with physicians and specialists. Ridgeway and Allen take the clients to these appointments in Barton County and other locations.
In addition, Demel makes home visits for wellness checks and other medical issues. “Clients who take medications will see us at least once a week in their homes,” Demel said.
She also collaborates with clients’ families to ensure that everyone understands the medical issues involved, and is in contact with doctors. Demel also refers clients to a higher level of care when necessary.
Other responsibilities include: maintaining clients’ records and medical histories; developing individual support plans; training the staff; and supervising medication administration. To illustrate the extent of the medication aspect, Demel noted that 48,097 doses were administered during the third quarter of last year.“This could involve anything from a minor headache to basic health maintenance to control of a seizure disorder,” Demel said.
Ladeska “Decky” Makings, Sunflower chief operating officer, noted that clients’ medical supports begin at age 18 and last a lifetime at Sunflower.
“This is why it is crucial to have a full-time RN,” Makings said. “Many agencies use only nurse consultants but our clients deserve the personal touch with as much intervention and expertise as possible.
“Our medical services are important not only for the day-to-day issues, but also to decrease the numbers of unnecessary visits to the emergency room and urgent care,” Makings added. “Sunflower allows people to lead comfortable and independent lives; our medical supports are a big part of this.”
Demel, who moved to Barton County in 1990, earned her associate’s degree in nursing in 2000 at Barton Community College; she also graduated from the University of Phoenix in 2010 with a bachelor’s of science in nursing.
From 2001 to 2006, Demel was ER manager at Clara Barton Hospital in Hoisington. She also was an ER nurse and cardiac nurse in Tucson, Ariz., before her assisted-living position in Holyrood.
“Brandi is doing an exceptional job,” Makings said. “We are extremely impressed and pleased with her ability to accommodate her special clientele at Sunflower.”