OCH Regional Medical Center Adds New Orthopedic Center and Surgeon to Team

                OCH Regional Medical Center has expanded its services by opening the OCH Orthopedic Center directed by Chad Williams, DO. to provide comprehensive musculoskeletal healthcare to Starkville and the surrounding communities. Dr. Williams and his staff offer a full range of services in the prevention, diagnosis, and medical and surgical treatment of skeletal, joint, and muscular injury and disease.          

            At an early age, Dr. Williams knew he wanted to be a surgeon, and shortly after being exposed to orthopedic surgery in medical school at Kansas City University, he knew he had found his specialty.

            “It’s a very rewarding field of medicine to practice in because of the quick turn around on my patients’ pain level. I’m able to see them improve and get back to the day-to-day activities they weren’t able to do prior to surgery,” explained Dr. Williams.

            A bulldog at heart, Dr. Williams graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s of science in microbiology. After completing his internship and residency at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Dr. Williams and his wife, Carmen, and their three children moved to Starkville to be closer to their families and hometown of Vardaman.

            “This area is home to us, and moving back here allows me the opportunity to give back to the communities I grew up in,” said Dr. Williams. “I want my patients to find the Orthopedic Center warm and inviting and know that my staff and I are here to listen to their concerns and ultimately help restore them to a better quality of life,” he added.

            And that’s how Barbara Johns described her experience at her recent visit to the OCH Orthopedic Center. After falling and breaking her arm, Johns scheduled an appointment with Dr. Williams and later underwent surgery on her left wrist at OCH Regional Medical Center.

            “I appreciated the fact that he spent so much time with me and spoke in plain language so that I understood what type of surgery and recovery process I would be facing,” said Johns. “He really does have an excellent bedside manner, and that’s important to me because if he’s going to be my doctor, I need to know him, and he needs to know me,” Johns added.

            Dr. Williams treats a wide-variety of orthopedic conditions including arthritis, bursitis, tendonitits, carpal tunnel syndrome, ACL, MCL & PCL injuries, tennis elbow, trigger finger, hammer toe, dislocations, broken bones & stress fractures, ganglion cysts, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff injuries and total joint replacement.

            A member of the American Osteopathic Association and the American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics, Dr. Williams is board-eligible in orthopedics. He is especially interested in anterior hip reconstruction surgery and is one of only a handful of physicians in the region trained to perform it. This technique, known as the muscle-sparing approach, allows him to work between the patients’ muscles and tissues without detaching them from either the hip or thighbones and usually results in a shorter hospital stay, less pain and may also help to prevent dislocations.

            The OCH Orthopedic Center is located at 307 Hospital Road in Starkville and is open Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. – noon. For an appointment with Dr. Williams call (662) 615-3741 or visit och.org for more information.

OCH, along with CNO, Recognized for Commitment to Saving and Enhancing Lives

            OCH Regional Medical Center recently received a Hospital Excellence Award at the inaugural Spero Awards presented by Donate Life Mississippi. The Medical Center is one of only nine medical facilities in the state to be recognized for its achievement of national organ donation performance standards.

            Additionally, the awards ceremony recognized hospital partners, medical professionals, corporate partners and donor ambassadors who work tirelessly in conjunction with Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA). OCH Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Martha Fulcher, DNP, MSN, RNC, was nominated for the “Most Supportive Hospital Leadership Award,” for making significant contributions toward the awareness and commitment to organ, eye and tissue donation.

            “Organ and tissue donation translates to the gift of life or better quality of life, and we are honored to be a part of the process,” said OCH Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton. “Dr. Fulcher not only works in collaboration with physicians, clinical staff, other medical facilities, and MORA to make the process efficient but also supports and promotes donation awareness,” Hilton added.

            On April 1 of this year, OCH held a balloon launch to raise awareness during National Donate Life Month and also recognized the family of a tissue donor, as well as a tissue recipient.

            Currently over 1,400 Mississippians and 123,000+ Americans are in need of a lifesaving transplant. A new patient is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes and an average of 18 people die each day awaiting a lifesaving transplant that never comes. To register as an organ and tissue donor go to www.donatelifems.org.

Exercise Is Medicine: Overcoming Disease with Physical Activity

Americans are facing what is referred to as an “inactivity epidemic.” Physical inactivity is a fast-growing public health problem and contributes to a variety of chronic diseases and health complications, including obesity, diabetes and cancer.  Even with all the benefits of physical activity, in the U.S. and many other countries, levels of inactivity are alarming.  The Wellness Connection at OCH Regional Medical Center is drawing attention to this issue and urging individuals and families to increase physical activity during May’s Exercise is Medicine Month.

“Exercise either directly affects or influences every single system in your body,” said OCH Wellness Connection Personal Trainer and Clinical Exercise Physiologist Steven McCorkle.  “The latest information shows we can manage and prevent many diseases through exercise by regulating and normalizing your bodily systems.  Our bodies were designed to function best when we are active.  A few key areas exercise has its most profound influence are metabolism, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, endocrine system (hormones), psychological (stress) and systemic health/strength,” explained McCorkle at a recent lunch-and-learn held at the Medical Center.

Eric and Michelle Foote recently joined the OCH Wellness Connection and attended the lunch-and-learn focusing on how exercise can act as medicine for dozens of diseases and conditions.
“I was surprised to learn about the direct correlation between the endocrine system and exercise. Working in a high-stress field, I realize I should make exercise a higher priority in my life,” said Michelle Foote.

“Everyone should start or renew an exercise program now as an investment in life-long health,” said Robert E. Sallis, M.D., FACSM, chair of Exercise is Medicine. “Every person, regardless of age or health, is responsible for his or her own physical activity. There are far more reasons to exercise than excuses not to.”

Recent research indicates that up to half of the effects of aging are not due to aging at all, but rather a direct result of changing lifestyle and activity habits as we age.

“Your body will adapt to whatever you’re doing, whether it’s high level activity or sitting in your recliner.  If you’re not challenging your bones and muscles, you’re going to lose them,” stated McCorkle.

For a minimal fee, a full fitness assessment is given to new members at the Wellness Connection, measuring weight, body fat, heart rate, blood pressure, flexibility, muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. In addition, a blood chemistry test profiles cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, LDL and HDL levels. Upon completion of the fitness evaluation, members receive a computerized profile and individual consultation to assist in the development of a fitness program to meet their needs. All members receive this personal attention, as well as orientation to the facility and equipment upon joining.

“Everyone has been very helpful at the Wellness Connection.  There are so many resources available that we have access to, as well as the knowledge of medical professionals at the hospital.  You just can’t get that at any other gym,” said Eric Foote.

“A healthy lifestyle with plenty of physical activity is more beneficial and has fewer negative side effects than almost any other medicine you can take,” said McCorkle.  “Everyone is searching for that magic pill to cure their disease and problems. We haven’t found that yet, but exercise is as close as we’ve come.”

For more information about the OCH Wellness Connection, call (662) 323-WELL (9355), or visit www.och.org.

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Campaign Highlights Importance of Early Detection of Communication Disorders

As many as one in ten Americans has some form of communication disorder that interferes with their ability to interact with their family, friends and members of their community. A nationwide launch of the new public awareness campaign “Identify the Signs” by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is drawing attention to the issue. OCH Rehab Services Licensed Speech-Language Pathologists Laurel Jones and Lori Windle are encouraging parents, caregivers and others to educate themselves about the early warning signs of speech, language, and hearing disorders.

“As a certified Speech-Language Pathologist, I see how delayed intervention impacts the people in our community every single day,” said Jones. “ASHA’s campaign has great potential to help the public identify and act on the early warning signs of communication disorders, allowing people to get the most effective treatment for the best chance at improved quality of life,” she continued.
The “Identify the Signs” campaign stems from ASHA’s new findings that identify lack of
awareness of the early warning signs as the leading barrier to early detection and treatment. Results of a recent survey of ASHA’s membership revealed that 45% of expert respondents reported lack of awareness as the number one barrier to early detection of communication disorders. Research has shown that early detection is critical to treating—and oftentimes reversing—communication disorders. Delayed treatment can result in isolation, poor academic or career performance and delayed development.
“Far too many people right here Starkville and across the country suffer from communication disorders. This campaign has the ability to reduce that number by helping people to identify the first signs of these disorders and seek professional help immediately,” said Windle.
Jones and Windle provide identification, evaluation and rehabilitation for a variety of speech, language, fluency, voice, swallowing, and cognitive disorders. For more information about OCH Rehab Services Speech-Language Therapy, which are available for children and adults of all ages on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, call 615-3020 or visit och.org and look under “Our Services.” All therapy provided through the OCH Rehab Services Department requires physician referral.

OCH Unveils Online Portals for Patients

By ALEX HOLLOWAY

reporter@starkvilledailynews.com

OCH Regional Medical Center is using technology to improve patient experience through two newly-launched online patient portals.

OCH Director of Marketing Mel Thurlow said the portals will, among other things, allow patients to set up accounts to more easily access some of their medical information.

“The benefits of this are that patients can securely send and receive messages to communicate with their physicians or set up appointments,” she said. “They can request prescription refills and view any tests or lab results they might need to see. It does a lot to bring the information to the patient and make everything more convenient for them.”

Patients can click the hospital’s website, http://www.och.org/. From there, they can access the portals through the “Patient Portals” link at the top right of the page or a patient portals tab further down the right side.

The portals will allow patients to access their medical information for OCH or any OCH-owned clinic. OCH Chief Information Technology Officer and Director of Information Technology Services Chamath Wijewardane said the hospital-clinic split was as far as information would divide for patients — any OCH-owned clinic will have medical information available for customers through the clinic tab, and any records at the hospital itself will be available to patients through the OCH tab.

“Typically hospitals that own clinics end up with two patient portals, one for the hospital and one for the clinics,” Wijewardane said. “All our clinics use the software and the hospital uses a different piece of software. Hospital software really doesn’t work well in a clinic and clinic software doesn’t work well in a hospital. At the end of the day, those packages are integrated, but for the patient, they’re separate.”

To register, patients need to provide an email address to registration staff at the hospital. From there, patients will receive an email from noreply@followmyhealth.com for the OCH-owned clinic portal or noreply@yourcarecommunity.com for the OCH portal with instructions to create login information and gain access to their records.

Wijewardane described the process as an easy one but said sign-up was not automatic, due to manual verification needs on the hospital’s end.

“So my name is Chamath Wijewardane — there’s probably only one in the state of Mississippi,” he said. “The computer actually identifies this and says ‘OK, this is the one we think it is.’ But just in case there’s a more common name, we want to make sure the computer doesn’t accidentally associate it. In our case, we don’t want that a John gets another John that’s actually somebody else. We want somebody to see that the computer did match it so we can say yes or no and be sure.”

Wijewardane said patients can not only view the portals on computers and also on mobile devices. He said both portals worked on tablets, though the OCH portal may not be desirably sized for smartphones. He said the clinic portal has a working in-browser mobile website and patients can also use the Follow My Health Mobile app to access it.

Thurlow said the portals also allow patients to set up proxy accounts for children or dependent adults if needed.

“It empowers patients to take a more active role in their health and wellbeing by providing them easy and convenient access to health information,” she said. “And through empowering patients, it helps us fulfill a part of our mission.”

With the portals’ launch, OCH is taking a step that many hospitals in Mississippi have yet to — it’s one of the first hospitals in the state to launch a portal system.

“We are one of the early adopters of all this technology,” Wijewardane said. “We’ve done a lot of things for a mid-size 96-bed hospital. I think we can be comfortable in saying we’re an early adopter in technology and have a lot of cool stuff for a 96-bed hospital.”

OCH Nurses Act as the Calm in the Midst of the Storm

          When the tornado touched down in Louisville last Monday, many of the nurses and other staff at OCH Regional Medical Center watched the coverage and looked on in fear for their friends, family and homes.  Located 25 miles from Starkville, many OCH employees call Louisville “home.”  ER registered nurse Dana Cumberland is one of those employees.  As the ER charge nurse that day, Cumberland stood ready to respond to trauma victims whom she knew would be headed to OCH after the Louisville hospital took a direct hit.  However, while she prepared for the worst-case scenario, she couldn’t help but worry about her own friends and family.

            “I was trying to get in touch with my family to find out if they were okay, but the phones wouldn’t go through.  I had no idea the extent of damage that had been done, and I was worried,” said Cumberland.

She soon found out she was one of the lucky ones.  Her home was still standing, and her family was safe.  Cumberland, along with dozens of other nurses, stayed at OCH after their shift was over to care for an influx of patients with abdominal, pelvic and thoracic trauma, lacerations, abrasions, head injuries and broken bones.

“This is why I decided to become a nurse, and working in the ER gives me a real sense of being able to help people when they need it the most,” said Cumberland.

Fellow ER registered nurse Megan Evans said Cumberland’s ability to stay calm in the midst of the literal storm helped everyone else stay on track and focus on the task at hand.

“My home was damaged in the 2010 tornado, so this storm had me on edge.  I was a little anxious and worried about my family, but at the same time, I knew patients would be coming in who needed my full attention,” said Evans.  “I knew the Lord was in control, and I just kept praying,” she added.

While OCH nurses administered care for patients within the building, other off-duty nurses put their medical expertise to work along the tornado’s path of destruction.  OCH Surgery Manager Alan Krajewski, RN, and his family took cover at the nursing home in Louisville where his wife worked, thinking they would be safer there than at home.  When he arrived, Krajewski helped transport the residents into the hallways and covered people with mattresses.  Soon after, the nursing home that was connected to the hospital took a direct hit.  “I walked out of the bathroom we were in and saw all of the windows busted out, trees piled up against the hospital and cars flipped over,” Krajewski described.  None of the patients were hurt, but he knew the damage he was looking at meant the nursing home residents couldn’t stay in that building.  “My role as a nurse kicked in, and I began prioritizing who needed to go where.  We loaded patients into vehicles to be taken to a church for shelter, along with patient charts, medical supplies, oxygen tanks and mattresses,” said Krajewski.

While fellow nurses provided hands-on medical attention, OCH Infection Control Director and RN Kim Roberts was stationed in the incident command center at OCH during the tornado to help implement the disaster plan.  “Infection control departments are often involved in emergency preparedness and response because open wounds place trauma victims at a high risk of infection.  The risk is also high for first responders because of broken glass, metal and hazardous materials that people aren’t normally exposed to,” explained Roberts.

OCH RN Mandy Watson said she provided first-aid to storm victims as well as first responders.  She was at her Louisville home located around the corner from the nursing home where Krajewski was stationed when the tornado hit.  Her home was spared, and after the tornado passed through, Watson assembled a first aid bag and went to find people who needed medical assistance.  “A caring touch meant the world to people after the storm.  I used every band aid, piece of gauze and tape that I had, and so I started making band aids out of napkins and regular tape,” explained Watson.  “Being a nurse is a 24/7 job.  No matter where I am, I have a true desire to help people,” she added.

OCH nurses administered care at the Medical Center to more than 35 patients and dozens more outside of the building who sustained storm-related injuries.  Glenda Childress, RN, on the surgical floor said one of her patients who suffered a spinal injury told her how he was trapped in his home after the tornado hit.  “Everyone handles trauma differently, and it’s important to not only act as a caregiver but also as a listener,” said Childress.

“We were prepared to handle the worst-case scenario. We put our disaster plan into action and were able to meet the needs of our immediate and surrounding community,” said OCH Chief Nursing Officer Martha Fulcher DNP, MSN, RNC.  “I’m so proud of our nurses and all of our staff for staying focused, coming together as a team and going the extra mile to provide excellent care to those who needed it,” said Fulcher.

Each year, National Nurses’ Week which runs from May 6 – 12 recognizes the quality work these skilled professionals provide seven days a week, 365 days a year rain, sleet, shine–or even severe weather.  Roberts’ description of a career in nursing is one that’s sure to never change. “People will always need medical care.  It’s a common denominator,” said Roberts.  At some point in everyone’s life, he or she will need medical attention, and nurses have the honor of being a part of that.”

 

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.   

By ARIEL KING

life@starkvilledailynews.com

 

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.”

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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.

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