OCH Releases Balloons in Honor of Organ Donor Awareness Month

Published in Starkville Daily News April 2, 2014

OCH and Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency hosted a balloon launch and ceremony Tuesday in honor of organ and tissue donors and transplant recipients.

The event was held in order to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation and to encourage people to register as donors. Members of the OCH staff, and Starkville residents affected by organ and tissue donation, gathered at the flagpole in front of the ambulance bay for the ceremony at noon. Attendees heard from both a transplant recipient and the family of a tissue donor.

The group then released balloons different-colored balloons representing donors and recipients.
Beverly Hammett had a kidney transplant three years ago after going into renal failure. She said receiving the transplant gave her a second chance at life.
“It was a very positive experience and a very humbling experience,” Hammett said. “Because when you’re told that you are in renal failure, you panic. You don’t know what to do. When they called me, I wasn’t expecting it. It will be three years this month that they called me and told me they had a kidney for me.”

Hammett said registering as an organ and tissue donor is important and can save lives.
“Donate life, because life is the most precious thing we have,” Hammett said. “Without life, we cannot fulfill our purpose. Each one of us has a designated mission, but it is up to God to oversee what that mission is.”

Steve and Laura Gaskin said they make an effort to speak at every event they can to encourage people to become organ and tissue donors. Their son, Matthew, was only 23 years old when he passed away in a car accident in January 2008. According to his mother, he told his parents after church one day that he was interested in becoming an organ and tissue donor after a fellow church member received a liver transplant.

“(Matthew) said ‘I want to give everything I have,’” Laura said. “’Because if anything ever happens, I won’t need these (organs) when I get to heaven.’”
Steve said that his son’s organs could not be donated, but his tissue was suitable to donate.

“After the wreck, he was carried straight to the funeral home,” Steve Gaskin said. “When we got here, after the initial shock, we asked if he could be an organ donor and we didn’t realize that he couldn’t be a donor as far as organs, because he had already passed away at the scene of the wreck. He became a tissue donor.”

Laura said her son’s tissue has helped many people.

“Thirty-two people have had their lives saved or enhanced through Matthew’s donation,” Laura Gaskin said. “We’ve talked to (an elderly woman), who at the time was 72, and she received some bone tissue of Matthew’s to repair her spine when she couldn’t do hardly anything because of the pain. Once she received the donation, she was back to a normal life. Matthew also gave corneas, so two women have sight because of Matthew.”

Steve said he didn’t realize how great the need for donors was until after his son’s accident.  

“There are so many people that are on dialysis, it’s just amazing,” Steve said. “I didn’t realize how many people were waiting (for a transplant). There are so many people that don’t know about organ and tissue donation that would do it.”

MORA’s Director of Community Outreach, Charlotte Mullinix, explained what National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Month is and why it is important.
“April is National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Month,” Mullinix said. “It’s just a time where organizations like ours — we’re an organ procurement agency — there are many in the country, around 50 organizations, that work with hospitals and it’s just a time that nationally we do partnerships with hospitals and hold events. Bottom line: it’s just to make people aware of organ and tissue donation.”

Mullinix said a registered donor has the potential to help the lives of many people.  

“One organ and tissue donor can help save the lives of eight people through organs — the heart, liver, lungs and pancreas — but 100 people can be helped through tissue donations,” Mullinix said.

 OCH Public Relations Coordinator Mary Kathryn Kight said the hospital wanted to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation in hopes that more people will choose to register.
“As the local hospital, we at OCH wanted to help raise awareness, especially during National Donate Life Month, to show the importance of donating life,” Kight said. “And the Gaskin family is a perfect example of how so many lives can be saved and impacted through donations.

 “It saves lives, which impacts everybody that is touched by those donations,” Kight added. “Like Beverly Hammett said, she wouldn’t be here today without her kidney donation and she’s doing great now. Personally, I’m an organ donor. It’s on my card and I chose to do that when I got my license, but also, recently my dad has been put on the donor recipient list. You never know when it’s going to affect you, and a lot of people just don’t know about organ donation. I think if they were just informed, they would make a better decision about it.”

To register as an organ donor, visit donatelifems.org. You can find more information about organ and tissue donation by going to msora.org.   




OCH Honors Its Physicians on National Doctors’ Day

       When Bob Smith came to Ackerman from Ohio for work, he never dreamed his time in Mississippi would include an emergency surgery followed by a two-week hospital stay. Smith was diagnosed with a perforated ulcer, which can be deadly if untreated. Under the care of Cameron Huxford, MD, and Daniel Smith, MD, at OCH Regional Medical Center, Smith’s health was restored, and six months later, he came back to the Medical Center to thank Dr. Huxford and Dr. Smith, along with his nurses and other healthcare providers. “They showed me great southern hospitality, hospital style. I’ll be 76 this year, and those were the nicest people I’ve ever met,” stated Smith. “They saved my life. There’s no two ways about that.”

       Smith’s testimonial is just one of thousands of stories from patients who have received life-saving care from the physicians at OCH Regional Medical Center. It’s why every year on March 30, OCH honors staff physicians on National Doctors’ Day for their tireless service. Every day people who are hurting turn to them for help.  Because of their ability to heal and provide relief, they’re sometimes viewed as superheroes in the eyes of their patients.  But just like all good superheroes, there’s a personal side to them most people don’t get to see.

As a pulmonologist, Dr. Huxford treats patients with conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, COPD, emphysema, pneumonia and sleep disorders.  He’s a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and is board-certified in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, but don’t ask to see his high school diploma because he doesn’t have one.  No, not even his GED!  “I was 16 when I quit going to high school.  I didn’t have a good reason other than I was bored. The intention wasn’t to not do anything. I worked odd jobs for a few months until I was accepted to the University of West Alabama on probation,” explained Dr. Huxford.  He maintained the required GPA and transferred to the University of Mississippi where he earned his bachelor’s of science in biology and later completed his medical degree at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, a familiar line of business for Dr. Huxford.

“I grew up across the street from my grandfather who was a doctor. I went on house calls with him and can remember getting up with him at night when patients would randomly show up at his back door,” recalled Dr. Huxford.  “I’m glad they don’t do that anymore!” he added with a laugh.

There are certainly aspects of the practice of medicine that have changed over the years, and family practitioner Everett McKibben, MD, has witnessed many of them in his 22 years of practicing.  “There have been huge changes in the field of medicine; take for instance surgery.  Now, most operations are outpatient or one-night stay, but I remember when it was common to have a week-long hospital stay for gallbladder removal surgery,” recalled Dr. McKibben.

Dr. McKibben also explained some of the changes have presented obstacles for physicians.  “One of the biggest challenges is the third party payers like insurance companies and the government.  Those groups have inserted themselves between patients and their doctors and want you to use their alternative treatment,” said Dr. McKibben.   “There’s an artificial illusion that doctors work for the insurance companies, and that’s not true.  Doctors work for patients,” he added.

At the young age of seven, Dr. McKibben knew he wanted to be a physician.  “My grandmother worked as a nurse’s aid at a small hospital.  She would take us to the hospital to show us off to her friends, and that’s when I became fascinated with the practice of medicine,” said Dr. McKibben.

Pediatrician Chasity Carpenter, MD, had a love for science, but her path to medical school wasn’t the traditional route.  “I majored in biology in college, but before I completed my degree, life happened.  I became a single mother and put school on hold temporarily,” explained Dr. Carpenter.  Armed with coffee and an encouraging mother, she eventually completed her college degree, took the MCAT and started medical school.  “My son grew up playing with my bone box from gross anatomy class and coloring pictures of ‘upside down trees’ or lungs,” remembered Dr. Carpenter with a laugh.

As a mother in her first pediatric rotation in residency, Dr. Carpenter was able to empathize with worried mothers who had questions about their children.  “I enjoyed being there for the parents, as well as the children,” said Dr. Carpenter.  “Unlike other fields of medicine, I was allowed to have fun and play with my patients.  I love a child’s ability to find joy even in the midst of a serious disease.  Even on the oncology floor, the kids would ride their IV poles down the hall in between getting chemotherapy treatments,” recalled Dr. Carpenter adding, “that’s not something you see on the adult floors!”

“To be honest, I had moments when I doubted my ability to take this journey with a toddler, but I made it through.  I love what I do, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!” Dr. Carpenter continued.

Dr. Carpenter’s sentiments parallel those you would hear from most physicians if you ask about their profession.  Few would be doing the job if they didn’t have a passion for helping others.  Like so many of us, Bob Smith will be forever grateful to his physicians at OCH. “I thank God for the experienced doctors at OCH who saved my life,” said Smith.  “I recently attended a funeral, and the preacher talked about unfinished business.  Because of the compassion and care rendered by these physicians, I’m able to take care of my unfinished business.

“National Doctors’ Day is a day of celebrating the compassion of physicians in caring for the sick and alleviating human suffering, as well as the many contributions they make in the never-ending fight against disease,” said OCH Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton.  “The OCH Regional Medical Center board of trustees, administration and staff joins patients, family, and friends to express gratitude to members of the OCH Medical Staff for their hard work, dedication, loyalty and service to this community.”


OCH Rehab Services Physical Therapist Provides Treatment for Lymphedema Patients

          If you have a full or heavy sensation in your arms or legs, tightness of the skin, decreased flexibility in your hand/wrist/foot/ankle, difficulty fitting into clothing in one specific area, or ring/watch/bracelet tightness, you could be experiencing an early sign of lymphedema. Early treatment minimizes the symptoms and can improve the outcome, which is why during the month of March OCH Rehab Services is raising awareness to help those suffering get the treatment they need.

          According to OCH Rehab Services Physical Therapist Carol Walters, PT, DPT, CLT, Cert DN, “lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of protein rich lymph fluid within the body with an estimated 140 to 250 million people worldwide who are affected by the disease.”  

Lymphedema occurs due to an insufficiency of the lymphatic vessels and nodes, and may develop in an arm or leg where the lymph vessels and lymph nodes have been damaged or removed. If left untreated, infection can occur which generally includes pain, redness, rash and/or red blotchy skin, itching of the affected area, increase of swelling, increased temperature of the skin, heavy sensation in the limb (more than usual), flu-like symptoms, and in many cases a sudden onset of high fever and chills.

“Lymphedema is a chronic condition with no cure, however, it is manageable with early intervention,” explained Walters, adding that treatment options include specialized massage, exercises, bandaging and compression garments.

Loretta McKenzie developed lymphedema in her left arm after having some of her lymph nodes removed.  The condition caused her left arm to swell to a size 150% larger than her right arm.  “It’s a very uncomfortable disease, and it also makes it hard for me to find clothes that fit,” said McKenzie. “Carol helped relieve some of my pain I was dealing with, but more importantly, she taught me how to manage the disease at home by using compression wraps,” explained McKenzie.

Dr. Kristine Edwards was diagnosed with lymphedema in her left leg in 2005, with the disease starting in her ankle.  During the first stage, Dr. Edwards said she was able to control the swelling by staying off her feet and keeping her legs elevated; however, the disease grew progressively worse.  “Therapy allowed the swelling to decrease enough that I was able to wear compression garments to keep the swelling down and function normally,” explained Dr. Edwards.  “Carol was so knowledgeable and supportive of me.  She took the time to teach my husband how to wrap my leg to provide some relief,” she added.

“Successful treatment involves a team approach between the patient, physician, and lymphedema therapist.  Lymphedema therapists are physical therapists, occupational therapists or massage therapists who have been specifically trained in manual lymph drainage (massage) techniques, bandaging and compression garment applications for the treatment of lymphedema,” explained Walters.

There are two types of lymphedema: primary and secondary. Primary lymphedema can be present at birth. With primary lymphedema, the swelling occurs for many reasons usually deformities in the lymph nodes or vessels. Secondary lymphedema results from surgical removal of the lymph nodes, blockage of the lymph nodes, damage to the lymph vessels, scarring across the vessels, radiation therapy, infection, trauma, obesity or chronic venous insufficiency. Secondary lymphedema can occur at any time postoperatively or may not appear for months or years. Secondary lymphedema is most often the cause of arm swelling in women after treatment for breast cancer.

Dr. Edwards encouraged others suffering from lymphedema to seek help.  “By all means, don’t hesitate to go!  Therapy can mean the difference between having a normal day-to-day life or suffering.  It makes all the difference in the world.”

For more information about lymphedema, contact the National Lymphedema Network at 800-541-3259 or www.lymphnet.org/.  A physician’s order is required for lymphedema treatment.  For more information about OCH Regional Medical Center Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, call 662-615-3020 or visit www.och.org.


National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Sheds Light on Importance of Screenings

     Last year, an estimated 56,000 men and women in the United States died from colorectal cancer (CRC), cancer of the colon or rectum.  But to Lynn McBroom, that statistic is more than just a number, it represents her cousin, Kathi Kirkland, who was diagnosed with colon cancer and later died after the cancer spread throughout her body.

     “After Kathi was diagnosed, several of our family members went to have a colonoscopy to make sure they were clear of the disease, and they were. My risk didn’t increase because we were not immediate family members; however, when I was due for a colonoscopy, I said, ‘Sure, let’s do it,’” said McBroom, adding that the prep for the test is the worst part.  “Once I got to OCH for the procedure, it was easy.  The nurses and techs were so professional and comforting, which minimized my nervousness and helped me put it in perspective.  The anticipation is definitely worse than the actual event!”

During the month of March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, the topic is at the forefront of many discussions, with healthcare providers hoping education about the disease will prompt others to get screened.  At a recent lunch-and-learn at OCH Regional Medical Center led by John Phillips, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.G., with Digestive Health Specialists, McBroom and other participants learned just how important it is to receive regular screenings.

“Of the 56,000 people who died of CRC in 2013, screening could have saved over half of them,” stated Dr. Phillips.  “It’s such a preventable cancer.  A simple screening colonoscopy prevents CRC by removing precancerous colon polyps, but unfortunately, only about half of the population will receive the screening as directed by national guidelines,” he added.

“Seeing everything Kathi went through before losing her life, I know how important it is to catch the cancer at the earliest stage. I think if people realized the amount of pain and suffering they could avoid by having a colonoscopy, they would get over the embarrassment or anxiety of having one and just do it,” stated McBroom.

Sonny and Patsy Stuart were also among those who came to learn about colon cancer screenings and guidelines. “This seminar gave me a better understanding of the tests that are available and how they actually work,” said Sonny Stuart.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more from an expert about the different screenings and how many lives these screenings can save.  It impressed me, and it makes me more aware of how necessary regular screenings are,” said Patsy Stewart.

A recent report from the American Cancer Society (ACS) shows that colon cancer in older adults has decreased by 30% in the last decade. Despite that encouraging statistic, colorectal cancer is still predicted to be the third most common and third most deadly cancer in the U.S. in 2014, with an estimated 137,000 new cases and 50,000 deaths.

“Even though those numbers have decreased, far too many cases of colorectal cancer are being missed. We could significantly impact the number of colorectal cancer patients if more people received screenings,” stated Dr. Phillips.

According to the ACS, the state of Mississippi ranks number 50 in colorectal cancer screening prevalence among adults aged 50 years and older.  Current guidelines recommend a screening at 50 years in an average-risk person who has no family history of the disease and a screening at 45 years for African Americans.  Risk factors for CRC are higher for people who are African American, overweight or obese, aren’t physically active, drink alcohol in excess, eat a lot of red or processed meat, or have a family history of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps. People with personal histories of inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) and people with family histories of inherited colorectal cancer or inherited colorectal problems are also at a higher risk for developing the disease.

Dr. Phillips encouraged the group to also know the warning signs of CRC which include blood in or on the stool (bowel movement), stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away, and/or unexplained weight loss.

Digestive Health Specialists, P.A. is located at 300 Hospital Road in Starkville.  For an appointment, call 662-324-7484 or visit www.dhsgi.net.

OCH Becomes Only Hospital in State to be Recognized for Breastfeeding Excellence

The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) and International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) have recognized OCH Regional Medical Center for excellence in lactation care.


OCH Perinatal Educator Paula Hamilton, RN, IBCLC, talks to breastfeeding mothers at a recent Mother to Mother support group at the Medical Center. The group meets the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m.

The Medical Center is the only hospital in Mississippi to received the IBCLC Care Award in recognition for staffing professionals who hold the prestigious International Board Certified Lactation Consultantcertification (IBCLC®) and providing a lactation program that is available 5-7 days a week for breastfeeding families. In addition, the facility demonstrated that is has provided recent breastfeeding training for medical staff that care for new families, and has recently completed activities that help protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.

According to Liz Brooks, President of ILCA, “Breastfeeding rates are on the rise today so the need for breastfeeding experts has also increased.” “Breastfeeding is natural and often works quite well without intervention, but there can be complications or risk factors so mothers also need extra support. An IBCLC is a trained expert with clinical skill who works with the entire health care team so that a mother’s breastfeeding goals can be met,” explained Brooks.

OCH staffs more than 40 registered nurses in the nursery, labor & delivery and postpartum units who have been trained as breastfeeding educators, as well as two certified lactation counselors and two International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.

“Increasing breastfeeding rates is important and an ongoing goal for the nursery and our lactation services,” stated nurse manager Karen Tiffin, RN. “Help for breastfeeding mothers is available at our hospital 24/7, and we also offer one-on-one assistance to the new breastfeeding mom,” she added.

Recipients of the award focus on preventive care, so they are available during pregnancy to assess the mother and provide information on how to successfully initiate breastfeeding. They continue that assistance after the baby is born by helping mothers overcome breastfeeding challenges, providing accurate information, and continuing to support them as their baby grows. They assist mothers returning to work or school, help mothers in more unusual situations such as breastfeeding more than one baby or nursing a sick or premature infant, and help train nursing staff to manage basic breastfeeding care.

To be eligible for the award, a facility must have a qualifying project in the two years prior to award application. OCH’s project was the Mother-to-Mother breastfeeding support group created by OCH Perinatal Educator and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Paula Hamilton, RN, IBCLC.

“I have seen a growing need for a group of this nature at OCH to encourage moms to seek help when needed,” stated Hamilton. “A major goal of the breastfeeding support group is to increase initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding in the seven counties that OCH serves, and I believe we can achieve that by reaching out to these mothers,” explained Hamilton.

OCH Chief Nursing Officer, Martha Fulcher, DNP, MSN, RNC, was the first lactation consultant at the Medical Center and started the facility’s “Breast Is Best” breastfeeding class as well as opened the breastfeeding gift shop.

“As I learned more about breastfeeding and its benefits, I made a commitment that our staff would be educated to offer their expertise to help new moms provide the best for their babies,” stated Fulcher. “I’m so proud that we’ve won this award because I feel like this is just my dream expanding,” added Fulcher.

The Medical Center has also received the Breastfeeding Gold Standard Award and houses the OCH Lactation Clinic in affiliation with the State Department of Health WIC Program. In addition, OCH has breast pumps for rent and for sale, as well as a myriad of other breastfeeding supplies.

The Mother-to-Mother support group meets the second Tuesday of each month in the OCH Community Room at 5:30 p.m. Babies and siblings are welcome! For more information about this group or lactation services at OCH, visit the “maternity” section on och.org and look under “our services.”

OCH Smoking Cessation Class Gives Local Man a Fresh Start to His New Year

            Bill Wilson earned the right to his nickname, “Big Smoky.”  He took his first puff of a cigarette at the young age of 12, even “lighting up” in the school hallways with his friends.  Now, at 74 years old, he has smoked for 62 years, but he’s not planning to make that number 63!  

            Bill and his wife, Beverly, recently completed the ACT Center for Tobacco Treatment program at OCH Regional Medical Center.  The program is one of nine satellite centers in the state that are affiliated with the ACTCenter in Jackson at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.  The treatment plan includes an initial visit, six treatment sessions, medications, and follow-up appointments; all at no cost to participants.  The grant from the ACT program pays for the program.  

            “This is all in an effort to make Mississippi smoke free,” said OCH Respiratory Therapist and Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist Rita Baldwin, RRT, who leads the intensive treatment program at OCH.  “It’s never too late to quit.  Research shows as little as two weeks after quitting, a person’s risk of a heart attack begins to drop and lung function begins to improve.  One year after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of smoker, and 15 years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a nonsmoker,” stated Baldwin.      

            Baldwin said it’s not uncommon to find people from Wilson’s generation who started smoking at a very young age.  “I’ve had some patients who started when they were ten years old.  Smoking was a part of socializing in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and people weren’t aware of the harm it was doing to their bodies,” stated Baldwin. 

            Wilson begrudgingly joined the program at OCH after his wife signed him up.  At that time, he was smoking up to a pack to a pack-and-a-half of cigarettes every day and had tried to “kick the habit” at least 15 times.  Decades of smoking led to Bill developing COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which makes it harder for him to breathe and causes a persistent cough, a symptom that prompted his motivation for quitting.  “Rita asked me at the first meeting why I wanted to quit, and I told her because I didn’t want my cough that I had developed to scare the deer off this hunting season,” said Wilson.  

            Beverly’s motivation for joining the program was to get her husband to quit.  “I was really glad to find out that OCH was offering this class right here at home.  Our community needs this program, and it’s so convenient and has certainly made a difference in our lives,” said Beverly.  When Bill and Beverly met in the National Guard, friends nicknamed her “little smoky,” however, unlike Bill, she started smoking in her 20s while in nursing school but never became addicted to tobacco.  According to Baldwin, not everyone who tries tobacco becomes addicted to the drug. 

            “Some people have a stronger addiction to nicotine than others.  Bill took to smoking like a duck to water.  The first time he tried tobacco, his body loved the nicotine and his brain signaled that it wanted more,” said Baldwin, adding that being in an environment where most people smoked played a major part in his addiction. “Statistics show less than 4% of people can quit on their own.  People need encouragement and support, and that’s why we’ve started this program at OCH,” said Baldwin.

            The class covers several topics such as education about the affects of tobacco, support from family and friends and new lifestyle techniques.  “Every person has to recognize his triggers.  For instance, if you like to smoke after dinner, then find something else to do such as taking a walk or visiting a neighbor until the urge subsides,” explained Baldwin, adding that the urges will eventually get weaker and further apart.  The treatment program also includes nicotine replacement therapy and medications when, and if, necessary under the participant’s personal physician’s orders. 

            Bill keeps cinnamon drops in his shirt pocket and said it’s one of the “crutches” he’s used to help wean off of the nicotine.  “It’s tough. I certainly wouldn’t say it’s easy, but these ladies who lead this program really know what they’re doing and have helped me come a long way,” said Bill.  “The class is very well run and informative.  I would highly recommend the program to those who haven’t seriously considered quitting because it might open their eyes.”

            After all, Bill didn’t want to be in the class when he attended his first session on July 30, but soon after that, he set a target quit date of August 23 and actually quit on August 29.  He admitted, however, just the day before his last meeting that he had slipped and smoked a cigarette. 

            “The fact that Bill has smoked for most of his life and has only had one cigarette is a major breakthrough.  Chances are he will slip-up, but hopefully, with him using the tools we provide the urges will get less and less,” said Baldwin.    

            Meredith Hawkins, a tobacco treatment specialist who also helps with the class and is training to become certified, said Bill’s honesty is one of the most important steps to quitting.  “One of the first subjects we address in the support group is being open and honest because if you’re lying, you’re not ready to quit. We encourage open dialogue and would never want someone to feel embarrassed or ashamed because then he wouldn’t want to come back,” explained Hawkins.
            Baldwin said Bill is a perfect example that it’s never too late to quit. “We highly recommend for those who have attempted to quit on their own to join this class,” said Baldwin.  “Don’t feel like you’re a failure because you’re not.  We can help!” 

            For more information, visit www.och.org and click on “community outreach” on the right-hand side.  Several classes are offered throughout the year; however, space is limited!  To enroll in a class, call Baldwin at 615-3039.

OCH Regional Medical Center Employees Take Orders from Dr. Seuss

           “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”  This quote taken from Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” adorns the back of OCHRegionalMedicalCenter’s 2013 Christmas t-shirts.  This holiday season OCH employees took the quote from their t-shirts and put it into action, “adopting” three coworkers in need and their families.   

            All three employees were nominated by other OCH employees and selected by the “Adopt-A-Family” committee, with the recipients remaining anonymous.    

            OCH Public Relations Coordinator Mary Kathryn Kight said the fundraiser has been a long-time tradition at the MedicalCenter with employees reaching deep into their pockets to help their peers.  This year, more than $1,800 was raised, along with toys donated to give to the adopted employees’ children.

            “Some of the children in the adopted families have developed serious medical conditions this year, and with OCH employees being healthcare providers, they understand the impact that sickness has on not just the patient, but also their family physically, emotionally and financially,” said Kight.  “From the stress of not knowing their loved-ones prognosis to nights away from home in the hospital, OCH employees see families facing these tough situations every day, so the stories about the coworkers in need resonated with OCH staff members.  They wanted to make a difference for their coworkers, and that’s what they did,” she added.    

            The recipients were moved to tears and were shocked at the amount of money and items donated to help with medical bills, traveling expenses and to put gifts under their trees for their children.

            “You just don’t know what this means to me.  Thank you so much,” said one of the recipients as she cried tears of relief knowing that she had extra help and support to make it through a very difficult time. 

            “It’s the spirit of a giving and compassionate hearts all year long that make our employees such excellent caregivers,” said OCH Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton.  “Whether it’s a coworker in need or a patient who comes to OCH Regional Medical Center for treatment, OCH employees go above and beyond to make sure a person’s needs are met and to deliver compassionate care.”

OCH Partners with Local Program to Provide Work Experience/Build Self-Esteem

            OCHRegionalMedicalCenter recently received recognition from the State Department of Rehabilitation for training and employing individuals with disabilities.  The MedicalCenter is one of the local businesses that partners with Ability Works in Starkville to provide real work experience so that those with disabilities may retain employment and possibly live independently.  Sometimes the temporary work experience turns into a full-time job for participants.

            Jessie Hogan was a part of the rehabilitation program when he first came to OCH to gain valuable work experience within the environmental services department. “They made sure I was at work on time, got my job done and got along with other employees,” explained Hogan.   

            “What stood out to me most about Jessie was his humble spirit and excellent work ethic,” recalled Kennedy Neal, environmental services director.  “Whenever he had a question, he would ask me because he wanted to make sure the job was done right,” added Neal. 

            After his trial period at OCH, Hogan was hired as an environmental services tech, and seven years later, Hogan says the job is going great.  “I enjoy the work I do at the hospital and knowing that I’m helping people.  Everyone is really nice and having this job means a lot to me,” said Hogan.

            Starkville Ability Works Facility Manager Marie Portera said there are 17 Ability Works locations throughout the state that function to help people develop good work habits and job skills and eventually find jobs.  “We appreciate the people and businesses like OCH that take on contract workers so that they can get the work experience they need to become valuable employees,” said Portera.  “When we see people like Jessie come through the program and get a job, it makes us feel as though we’re a part of their success story and what we’re doing is making a difference,” she added.      

            Neal said for the past ten years he’s been accepting Ability Works’ contract workers when he has an opening in his department and noted those individuals have been excellent employees.  “When they first come here, some of them feel like they can’t, but they can,” said Neal.  I have a love and passion for those people.  I enjoy taking them under my wing to train them so that they can become productive citizens and give back to the community,” he added.   

            Neal also pointed out that the program aids in building self-esteem for those individuals.  Hogan agreed the job has made him feel good about himself.  “This job has helped me provide for my family and pay my bills, and that’s very important to me,” he said. 


Additional Surgeons Trained to Offer Single-Site Robotic Surgery at OCH

         Earlier this year, the first single-site robotic general surgery in North Mississippi was performed at OCHRegionalMedicalCenter, and now two more OCH surgeons have been trained to offer this unique service at the MedicalCenter.     

            Board certified general surgeons Roger Clapp, MD, FACS, and Daniel Smith, MD, have both completed extensive training and join Daryl Guest, MD, in performing single-site robotic general surgery at OCH.  This cutting-edge technology using the da Vinci SI Surgical System has changed the face of general surgery.  Instead of several incisions, the surgeon operates through one tiny incision using robotic assistance, which typically means patients experience less pain and are back to normal activities much faster.

            After years of stomach pain and nausea that progressively worsened, Sara Watkins opted to undergo single site robotic surgery to remove her gallbladder.  “I made an appointment with Dr. Parsons in Ackerman after having yet another night of horrible stomach pain.  I’ve seen several physicians before who dismissed my symptoms and would send me home with a prescription of Nexium for heartburn and indigestion, but Dr. Parsons took time and listened to me,” said Watkins.  “He ordered an ultrasound on my gallbladder and even went one step further and ordered a HIDA Scan which showed my gallbladder wasn’t functioning properly,” she explained. 

            Watkins made an appointment with general surgeon Dr. Roger Clapp in Starkville who explained single site robotic general surgery to her.  “Neither single site nor robotic surgery is new, but combining the two is what makes this procedure so advanced and beneficial to the patient,” explained Dr. Clapp.  “This technology allows the surgeon to utilize superior video quality and more precise maneuvers through one very small incision.  Patients usually experience less pain, a quicker recovery and better cosmetic results.  It’s very exciting to be on the forefront and be a leader in using this advanced surgical technology for the benefit of my patients,” he added.

            After having the surgery performed by Dr. Clapp at OCH, Watkins was very pleased. “I am so glad I had this surgery because I feel so much better!  The incision was literally in my belly button.  I had a little tenderness and swelling, which would’ve been much worse if I had chosen to have multiple incisions,” said Watkins.

            Dr. Daniel Smith has also undergone extensive training to provide single site robotic general surgery at OCH.  In fact, last November, Dr. Smith was the first general surgeon in North Mississippi to perform a robotic operation.   

            “The single site approach adds to the technology of the robot allowing us to perform complex operations through one very small incision.  Having the most advanced robot positions OCH to be on the cutting edge of technology and allows us to provide the very best option for our patients,” said Dr. Smith.

            Dr. Smith performed the single site surgery on Linda Dendy from Woodland and in less than two weeks, she was painting her house and enjoying good food with her family on the Fourth of July.  “If you can like surgery, I liked it.  I’ve had other surgeries, and this one was much easier to recuperate from with much less pain,” said Dendy.  “Everything was perfect! Two of my daughter-in-laws have had babies at OCH, and I had my last child there 26 years ago.  The hospital was great then, and it’s only improved since,” she added.

            Watkins said she’s thankful single site robotic surgery is available at OCH.  “I live in Louisville and could’ve gone to Jackson or Meridian to have this surgery, but because of OCH, I was able to stay close to home to have the most advanced procedure and not have a long drive home after surgery,” said Watkins.  “OCH is up-to-date on procedures and has plenty of resources, so I felt secure that if anything went wrong, they could handle the situation. And with the new renovations, I felt like I was at home instead of a hospital!  Everything was just so nice and soothing and peaceful during my recovery hours.  I couldn’t have had a better experience,” Watkins added.

            For more information about surgical services offered at OCH, visit och.org and look under “Our Services.”  For an appointment with Dr. Smith, contact OCH General Surgery Associates at (662) 615-3781.  For an appointment with Dr. Clapp, contact him at (662) 324-1310. 


OCH Chief of Staff Makes Mississippi History with New Glaucoma Procedure

           According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. Currently, there is no cure, and once vision is lost, it cannot be recovered. However, Starkville ophthalmologist and OCHRegionalMedicalCenter’s Chief of Staff Jim Brown, MD, is bringing hope to patients suffering from the disease. Brown is the first ophthalmologist in Mississippi and Louisiana to use the implant procedure to relieve the symptoms of mild to moderate glaucoma.

            “I really place a premium on giving patients the most advanced technology. If I learn about a new procedure, I take the opportunity to become proficient in that area so my patients can receive quality care,” said Dr. Brown.

            The latest method is performed concurrent with cataract surgery using the iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass, which was made for patients with cataracts and open angle glaucoma. iStent is the smallest medical device to be approved by the Food & Drug Administration.

            “Of all cataract patients, 20-30 percent have glaucoma with a mild to moderate open angle. The goal is to reduce eye pressure by creating a permanent opening that improves fluid outflow. Patients who’ve undergone this operation have been able to reduce and sometimes cease their medication use,” explained Dr. Brown. “Mississippi has one of the highest rates of glaucoma in the country and for us to have the technology to reduce the amount of money spent on medication is exciting.”

            As reported by the FDA, an ophthalmologist is required to undergo certification with the technology. But as with any medical procedure, a patient’s medical history has to be considered in order to determine whether or not they are a good candidate for treatment.

            It is estimated that over 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma, but because there may be no warning symptoms, less than half of those people know they have it. More than 10 million visits are made to physicians each year for glaucoma. Those most at risk include people over 60 or with a family history of glaucoma. Other risk factors include diabetes and hypertension.  

            “The benefits to my patients are what prompted me to receive this certification. Knowing that I can have a positive impact on their lives prompted me to obtain this certification and reminds me why I chose this profession,” said Dr. Brown.

            Dr. Brown practices at the Eye & Laser Center of Starkville. He is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and is a Fellow of the AmericanCollege of Surgeons. For an appointment with Dr. Brown, call (662) 320-6555. 



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