LAWTON (KFDX/KJTL) — A pharmacist, a nurse and an occupational therapist are three different professions in the medical field, but in Lawton, they share something special in common.

As we continue celebrating our healthcare heroes, we go to Comanche County Memorial Hospital where 35 years have gone by in the blink of an eye.

Cheryl Hale, Deborah Recklein and Terry Priddy’s stories at Comanche County Memorial began 35 years ago.

“Before we were more behind the scenes and now we’re more in front,” CCMH Director of Pharmacy Cheryl Hale said.

Terry Priddy is an occupational therapist at CCMH who has seen many changes since he first began in 1987.

“We had one of the therapists who would go over to the main hospital as the acute therapist, if we had three patients and two, three, four or five evals, that was a big day, now we’ll have a treatment list of 15 people and an eval list of 20,” Priddy said.

Deborah Recklein is a Registered Nurse who works in surgery.

“I mean gallbladders back when I started were not laparoscopic pretty much everything was like open or not done at all so a lot of that changed you know with the technology,” Recklein said.

Hale followed in her mom’s footsteps, who was a nurse, by starting her own career at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

She started as a high school student before working her way up to her current role of Director of Pharmacy.

What started as one in-patient hospital pharmacy has grown by three, including the hospital’s own Infusion Center Pharmacy.

“Before you would always have to send those prescriptions off to Indiana or somewhere else like that and it would take two weeks to get started on your oncology medication,” Hale said. “Now with our specialty pharmacy here located on campus through Great Plains, we can actually have those medications here the next day.”

Soon there will be a place for anyone in the community to get prescriptions at any time of day or night.

“We’re very community-driven, so when we heard that some of the chain pharmacies were closing down and weren’t able to staff it 24 hours a day any longer, we didn’t want our patients or anybody else’s patients to be at a loss at 3:00 in the morning searching for an antibiotic for their kids,” Hale said. “So our administration got behind us and we built a pharmacy upstairs in basically a hallway and we’ll be able to provide services for anyone needing prescriptions.”

From the pharmacy to the operating room. Recklein was in the first official scrub tech class at CCMH.

“Initially they didn’t have an actual physical classroom, we would just use like rooms up here in the hospital to have class, sometimes it was on the floor in the hallway, so kind of interesting,” Recklein said. “Most of the time we were down in the OR [operating room], I think kind of being the first class we kinda got more exposure to the actual OR, which I thought was beneficial.”

She said a lot has changed, but her love for surgery and the people she performs alongside, haven’t gone anywhere.

“You have to really work as a team back there, there can’t be any ‘I don’t want to do that’ you know, you have to work together to get the patient taken care of,” Recklein said.

Priddy has done about everything a person can do as an occupational therapist. He’s now working in the acute care part of the hospital.

“They’ve just been injured, they’ve just had a stroke, car accident, just had hip surgery or knee surgery, whatever’s happened, so we start getting them out of the bed, start mobilizing them right off the bat.,” Priddy said. “And decide, this one can go to rehab, this one needs to go to long-term care, this person can go home, so that’s a big part of what we do.”

He said it’s no one-man band either, no matter where you’re working at the hospital.

“It was kinda funny, in OT school we competed with the physical therapists, the students, a lot and then you find out as soon as you get out of school, you’re working alongside everybody, you’re more of a team than competition, so it was kind of fun to learn that,” Priddy said.

At the end of the day, it’s the relationships that stand out after 35 years of working at the same hospital for Hale.

“Most of us grew up together, had our kids together, so it’s very family-driven,” Hale said.

These three have three things in common, experience, passion and 35 years right in the heart of Lawton.

The 24-hour pharmacy will be open to anyone in the community, not just patients of the hospital. They hope to have it open by the first of July, 2023.

Priddy suggests anyone interested in healthcare visit and shadow to find out what they like and don’t like.