National Hospital Week Ideal Time to Spotlight “Behind the Scenes” Employees

When people think of a hospital, they usually think of nurses and doctors, but in reality, it takes so much more.   Whether you’re an inpatient at OCH Regional Medical Center or an outpatient getting bloodwork, x-rays or any number of medical tests or procedures, there’s a whole team of professionals who work behind the scenes every day to keep the hospital running on all cylinders.  

Before most people wake up in the morning, employees in the OCH Plant Operations Department are already at work to ensure the hospital is equipped to care for patients in both routine situations and during disasters.

“Once a month at 5 a.m. we simulate a power outage for one hour to make sure our generators are working properly so that if we lose power, they will kick in and provide emergency power. In the operating rooms, the generators start working in one point two seconds in case of a power outage, and that’s crucial to keeping the patient alive,” said Red Malone, a 27-year plant ops veteran. “I love what I do because it helps the patients. I enjoy working on things and always have,” Malone added.

Other plant ops employees such as Steve McClellan are responsible for making sure the medical air pumps in surgery and the boilers that are used to sterilize surgical equipment are working properly. And thanks to Jimmie Saulsberry, patient beds, nurse call buttons and televisions are checked daily to ensure everything works as it should.

Charles Evans has been the only biomedical engineer at OCH for the past ten years and can be credited for maintaining all of the medical equipment in the hospital, including surgery tables, patient monitors, defibrillators, infant warmers, IV pumps, blood pressure machines and more.

“It’s a balance between monthly scheduled preventative maintenance and repairing equipment as needed. No two days are ever alike, and it’s a rewarding job because what I’m doing keeps the hospital running so patients can receive the care they need,” said Evans.

Just as equipment is crucial to patient care so is a sterile environment. With more than 100 patient and procedure rooms, as well as the emergency department, operating rooms, outpatient unit, labor and delivery unit and other clinical areas, it takes a team of environmental service technicians to sterilize the hospital in order to prevent the spread of infections and viruses.

“I am ultimately responsible for rooms to stay disinfected, and I feel like it’s one of the most important jobs in the hospital,” said OCH Environmental Service Technician Yulonda Austin. “Monitoring and disinfecting the emergency, radiology and lab departments is what I’ve been doing for 13 years, and I love it!”

Hundreds of patients coming in and out of the hospital every week creates a need for people like James Harris—the assistant director of materials management. He is accountable for ordering all of the hospital’s day-to-day supplies such as IV starter kits and fluids, masks, gloves, garbage bags, patient gowns, toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer.

“We get our main supplies in on Tuesday and Friday, so first thing in the morning we’re unloading trucks and filling the supply rooms for each floor.   “I like that I’m able to be on my feet and hands-on part of the day, and the other half of the day I’m taking inventory and on the computer placing orders,” explained Harris.

During National Hospital Week, May 10-16, facilities across the country are recognizing the aspects of a hospital that often get overlooked. The week-long celebration, which dates back to 1921, is a time for all hospital employees to be shown appreciation for their various roles.

“Many patients and visitors don’t realize that the people who provide patient care are not always the ones in scrubs or white coats. From transporters to insurance and billing to admissions, all OCH employees play a vital role in providing excellent care to our patients, and that’s why during National Hospital Week we want to recognize all of our employees for a job well done,” said OCH Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton.

OCH will honor its employees on Friday with a picnic-themed luncheon. For more information about the Medical Center, visit www.och.org.

 

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OCH Wellness Connection Personal Trainer Headed to Boston Marathon

OCH Wellness Connection Personal Trainer Corey Martin has competed in adventure races, triathlons, biathlons, 5k and 10k races, obstacle courses and half-marathons, but Monday, Martin will compete in the ultimate race—the Boston Marathon.

“I’ve been running for many years now and love every bit of it. I love the rush, maintaining my healthy lifestyle and setting a good example for all of my fitness clients at work,” said Martin.

Not just anyone can compete in the Boston Marathon. Runners must qualify to participate in the race and Martin has done that not once, but twice! After running the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in 2007, Martin qualified to run in Boston, but a life-changing event occurred that altered her priorities and put her goal of competing on the backburner.

“My mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer three months after I qualified. I had two years to use my qualification time for Boston, but I chose to spend that time with my mom who lived 18 months after she was diagnosed,” explained Martin.

Martin continued to run after the death of her mother, but this time, running became a time to pray and a way to cope with the loss. However, one day while looking through her mom’s things, she found a copy of the book that she had published and given to her mom, Go Mommy Go!. With three children and a full time job, Martin wrote the book to inspire other mothers to be physically active.

“Inside the book that I gave her was a letter my mom had written about how proud she was of me writing a book, being a mother, having a career I love, and that she was thrilled I had qualified for the Boston Marathon,” said Martin. “My mom always loved to hear about my races and events. It was at this moment after finding the letter that I wanted to train hard and qualify for Boston again,” Martin recounted.

And maybe a sign that solidified her decision even more was an envelope she found in a safety deposit box after the death of her stepfather two years ago. On the envelope, Martin’s mother had written, “Corey’s money for Boston Marathon.”

“I never knew that she was saving money for me to go to Boston, and the amount was almost enough to cover my entry fee,” said Martin.

With encouragement from her mother, Martin competed in the Tupelo Marathon on August 31, 2014, and ran at an average 7:54 pace for 26 miles, qualifying her for the Boston Marathon.

“I am so proud of Corey and tickled she’s going to do this. I know her mom would be very proud of her,” said Martin’s husband Andrew Martin. “In a state that leads the country in obesity, it’s awesome she can set an example. Corey has a God-given ability to motivate people. It’s a neat gift she was given,” he continued.

Martin said it’s the support of her husband that has allowed her to get to this point.

“As I’ve become a mother of three wonderful children, I’ve realized that competing in races is not as easy as it used to be! Learning balance in life is a very hard task. My husband thinks I’m nuts at times for training for some of these races but he supports me every step of the way,” said Martin.

Martin will join more than 30,000 people Monday as she runs 26.2 miles, with her husband cheering her on from the sidelines and maybe a little help from her mom.

“After you lose someone, your perspective changes. You realize life is too short to just wait around and wish you could’ve reached one of your goals,” Martin said.

Take Time to Thank Your Doctor on National Doctor’s Day

                A construction worker. A shoe salesman. And an orderly. At first glance, you might not think they would make good doctors. In fact, they didn’t. They made great doctors. Perhaps it’s the desire to build and repair, or the ability to relate to others and convince people to do what’s best. Or maybe to serve a person’s most basic needs. Whatever the case, all of these jobs proved to form a strong foundation for three young men to grow into skilled and compassionate doctors.  

       If you’re a patient of Dr. Travis Methvin’s at OCH General Surgery Associates or OCH Center for Breast Health & Imaging, you can bet that you won’t leave the clinic until you fully understand your prognosis. You can thank his grandmother for that.  

       “My grandmother who raised me was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer when I was a junior in high school. I saw her go through that, and I wasn’t really impressed with the doctors. As a fairly bright 17-year-old, I didn’t really understand what was going on with her because the doctor didn’t explain her prognosis, and I remember the way that made me feel,” said Dr. Methvin.   “Now, my mantra is I don’t want to leave the room until the patient and anyone else in the room fully understands the situation,” he stated.  

                While studying medicine, Dr. Methvin wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. After all—with a background in construction work, orthopedic surgery seemed to be the right fit.  

       “Every summer during college, I worked in construction building houses and was really good with a drill and hammer. I also played a lot of sports, so I thought I would enjoy working with athletes,” explained Dr. Methvin.

       But ultimately he decided to pursue a wider range of surgical care and became a general surgeon.  

       “The main thing I love about surgery is that we actually fix things. It’s like construction work. It’s not like diabetes or high blood pressure where you’re trying to maintain it or keep it under control. As a surgeon, you have a problem in front of you, and you attack it and fix it,” said Dr. Methvin.

       As an internal medicine physician, Dr. Ramon Osorio must convince his patients to follow his plan of care just like he used to convince his customers to purchase shoes.  

       “I changed majors four times in college and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went to work full time at Footlocker, and somewhere in the process I decided to give medicine a try,” explained Dr. Osorio.    

       A native of Puerto Rico, Dr. Osorio left to study medicine at 23-years-old. He graduated from St. Matthews University School of Medicine in the Cayman Islands, where he and his wife, Yaraly Espinoza, married during their last year of medical school.  

       “During my first year of residency, we had our first son, Adrian. He is special needs, and so she does not practice medicine but has devoted all of her time to our family,” explained Dr. Osorio.

       Dr. Osorio said it was the family-oriented, small-town feel that solidified his and his wife’s decision to settle in Starkville to raise their family. Even as a father of three, Dr. Osorio confesses one reason why he chose the field of internal medicine was because he didn’t want to routinely provide medical care for children.

       “I wanted to do something that didn’t confine me, but kids and pregnant women make me nervous. And that’s what internal medicine is—taking care of everything but pediatrics and obstetrics. My kids get sick, and I have no clue what to do,” he says with a laugh.  

       That’s one reason Dr. Osorio’s patients at OCH Medical Associates love him so much. His sincerity, down-to-earth nature and good sense of humor allows him to form close bonds with patients from all walks of life. They readily trust him and follow his plan of care.

       “This sounds like a cliché but being a doctor is so rewarding. Nothing scares people more than being sick or having a loved one who’s sick, and we are there to help make them better. It doesn’t always end well, but when it does, it’s a pretty awesome feeling,” he said.  

       Dr. Chester Lott understands what it takes to care for his patients—from transporting them for tests to administering baths and changing bed pans, he’s done it all. Dr. Lott started as an orderly at OCH in 1976, just three years after the hospital opened.  

       “I always knew I was interested in medicine. My dad was in the military, and I was around large military hospitals in Germany as a kid. We came to Starkville in 1963 because my dad was stationed at the ROTC,” said Dr. Lott. “When I was in college at State, I was majoring in microbiology, and a professor told me that if I was going to stick with this major that I should make sure I like taking care of people. I took a job as an orderly making $2 per hour, and when I passed the test to become an EMT, I got a 20 cent raise,” he said laughing.    

       Dr. Lott went to UMMC in Jackson on a public health scholarship, with the agreement that for each year he received the scholarship, he would work a payback year in primary care in an area in need during his residency. He chose Obstectrics/Gynecology and chose to settle down in Starkville and practice at Starkville Clinic for Women after completing his residency.  

       “I don’t think people in Starkville realize how unusual the hospital is with the diverse physician and surgeon staff we have compared to hospitals this size in towns this size. It’s a real asset to this community,” said Dr. Lott.  

       “The thing I enjoy most about OB/GYN is that it’s almost family medicine, but you also get the challenges of surgery. We help our patients have babies, and when they don’t want to have any more babies, we help them plan for that. We try to help make life better for people in those ways,” he explained, also mentioning the major strides medicine has taken since he started as an orderly nearly 40 years ago.  

       “In my lifetime, we’ve gone from having cervical cancer being the leading cause of cancer death of women to where it’s not even in the top ten anymore.”

       Perhaps the advancements in medicine could have saved or at least prolonged Dr. Methvin’s grandmother’s life if she was battling the disease with today’s technology and medicine. She only lived 68 days after being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. However, her role in his leadership position as the director of OCH Center for Breast Health & Imaging is far greater than she could’ve imagined.

 

       “It would’ve been nice for her to be there (to see me graduate). Something like that really affects a teenage boy. Her generation, they ignored health problems and didn’t get mammograms,” said Dr. Methvin, stressing that there’s a huge difference in stage one and stage four breast cancer.

       “Stage one cancer is almost always treatable. That’s why I stress to my patients and the community to receive their annual checkups,” said Dr. Methvin. “My favorite thing about being a doctor is the look on my patients’ faces when they’re better, and there’s no more cancer and no more pain.”  

       For these three physicians, their roles as a construction worker, shoe salesman and orderly were just a starting point until they found their true calling in life. A calling that brings healing and comfort to so many people every day. On March 30, National Doctor’s Day, take time to thank your physician for the road he or she has traveled– and continues to navigate– to provide you with extraordinary care.

 

Patients Say New Equipment at OCH Wellness Connection Provides Better Quality of Life

               An odd-looking piece of equipment at the OCH Wellness Connection is getting a lot of attention. At first glance, it looks intimidating, but those who’ve received therapy on the Quadriciser say it’s a miracle-worker.

                Funded in part by the OCH Auxiliary, the motorized total body therapy system uses a motor and cables to gently move the entire body of those who have limited or no mobility. It is fully adjustable to each individual’s specific limitations and comfort level and has been proven to provide a better quality of life for those with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, the effects of a stroke, and many other types of illnesses causing physical limitations.

                “The auxiliary hosts several fund raisers throughout the year, and the proceeds are used to assist with projects and purchase equipment for the hospital. We were happy to allocate some of our funds to purchase the Quadriciser because it will help provide a better quality of life for people in our community,” said OCH Director of Volunteer Services Elaine Baker.

                Three years ago, a stroke left Sammy “Bub” Slaughter partially paralyzed on the left side of his body, causing him to drag his foot instead of picking it up to walk. But after five treatments on the Quadriciser, Slaughter is able to stand up by himself and lift his foot when he steps.

                “It’s helped me a lot. After I used it a few times, I saw the results. I was able to walk out of here (the Wellness Connection), and I wasn’t hurting as bad as I normally do,” said Mr. Slaughter, who also receives personal training from OCH Wellness Connection Director Eddie Myles to improve mobility and increase muscle strength.

                “I don’t want to overhype something, but we love it,” said Nell Slaughter, Bub Slaughter’s wife. “We have tried one of everything that’s out there to help him. I’m pretty cautious to say that something helps, but we really like this. He can now stand up by himself, and he almost never does that—only when Eddie makes him do it. He’s the drill sergeant!” she added with a laugh.  

                Myles has seen several people benefit from using the Quadriciser, including himself!

                “I was the guinea pig, and it helped alleviate the low back pain I was experiencing. I’m impressed by the results our clients are experiencing after receiving treatments on the Quadriciser,” said Myles. “For Mr. Slaughter, the machine keeps his muscles stretched out, which is a problem with a stroke—retraction. Since his treatments, his hand has loosened up, where it used to be claw-like,” Myles added.  

                For patients who are unable to walk, the Quadriciser can simulate reciprocal movements of walking while lying in the supine position. This cross-crawl pattern stimulates the brain and improves muscle function. As the user progresses, a more active therapy session may be obtained through simple adjustments of tension, speed and resistance, thus providing even further results.

                “People don’t want to have to depend on someone else to help them with their basic needs. The Quadriciser can improve the quality of life for individuals who have lost so much of their independence, and that’s the best part about the machine,” said Myles.

                “If you think you or someone you know might benefit from treatment with the Quadriciser, give me a call to talk it through,” Myles continued. “This is a safe, non-invasive treatment that can help so many people. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain.”

                Therapy on the Quadriciser is available by appointment for 30 minutes or one hour sessions at a nominal fee. For more information about it or services and classes at the OCH Wellness Connection, visit och.org or call 662-323-WELL (9355).

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Starkville Orthopedic Surgeon Chosen for National Leadership Role

Dr. Allen Butler, founder and CEO of Mississippi Bone and Joint Clinic and staff orthopaedic surgeon at OCH Regional Medical Center, has been selected by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) as one of ten national Leadership Fellows for 2105-2016.

The Leadership Fellows Program (LFP) is currently in its 12th year and is designed to identify emerging leaders in the field of orthopaedic surgery in order to further develop their leadership skills and prepare them for assuming leadership roles in the field of orthopaedics on both the state and national levels.

During his fellowship year, Dr. Butler will participate in leadership training in multiple venues around the country, including the University of Chicago and Washington, DC. He will also be given an appointment to an AAOS national committee and paired with a nationally known mentor in orthopaedics.

In addition to his busy orthopaedic practice, Dr. Butler currently serves as an adjunct professor in the Mississippi State University Department of Biological Engineering. He is on the editorial board for the Journal of Arthroplasty, the leading US journal devoted to hip and knee replacement surgery, where he serves as an elite reviewer for the journal.  

Dr. Butler is also a fellow of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons where he serves as one of two representatives from Mississippi.   He is a recipient of the Stenchfield Award from the Hip Society, a national award for excellence in research in hip replacement surgery. 

Dr. Butler has been affiliated with OCH Regional Medical Center for eight years and has previously served as the OCH Chief of Surgery. He has been instrumental in the development of the total joint program at OCH, which was awarded a five star Healthgrades rating in 2013 for excellent outcomes in hip replacement, knee replacement, and hip fracture treatment.

For additional information or an appointment with Dr. Butler, call (662) 323-9908.

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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 Golden Triangle 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.”

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