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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Despite low threat, WRMC prepares for Ebola

The potential for a major Ebola outbreak is striking fear in people across the country. White River Medical Center (WRMC) has not treated any cases of Ebola; in fact, the likelihood of the Ebola virus reaching Batesville is remote, but that isn’t stopping leaders at WRMC from developing plans to prepare the medical staff, employees, and volunteers in case any threats should occur. Although WRMC’s Infection Prevention department has been collaborating with the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) since the outbreak occurred in West Africa earlier this year, planning and preparedness have increased as the virus has made an appearance in the United States. A screening process has been developed for all patients entering WRMC showing symptoms consistent with the virus, including fever, weakness, headache, abdominal pain, or more severe symptoms. The screening process includes questions about travel history and possible contact with patients who have Ebola. “We realize that while the chances are low, the potential for having a patient with the virus seek our facility for care is still a possibility,” said Gary Bebow, CEO of White River Health System (WRHS). “We are being proactive. Our goal, should we encounter a patient with the virus, is to limit exposure so we can keep our patients, families, visitors, and employees safe.” An isolated care location has been specially designed and constructed inside WRMC to safely accommodate a hazardous situation. Additionally a core team, a volunteer group of WRMC employees, consists of twelve nurses and two respiratory therapists. The core team of care professionals has received specific training regarding the virus, transmission, patient care measures, and caregiver safety. Should a patient with the virus enter WRMC, members of the core team will be the only individuals providing care to the patient until he or she can be transferred by the CDC to a hospital specializing in this care. The core team is required to wear specialized personal protective equipment and have recently undergone training in using the equipment appropriately to prevent the spread of the virus. Additionally, the team and all in contact with any infected patient will be quarantined as directed by the CDC. Procedures have also been developed to educate all clinical personnel of the protocol that is to be used, as well as inform of the sensitivity of the situation. “The people of this area should be comforted in knowing that we are taking this very seriously,” said Tammy Gavin, administrator/chief operating officer of WRMC. “While we hope we never have to put our practice to use, we feel very prepared should a case present itself.” Leaders at WRMC are collaborating with leaders and physicians at Stone County Medical Center in Mountain View and the WRMC Medical Complex Satellite ER in Cherokee Village to develop protocol that ensures the safest possible transfer of an infected patient to WRMC.

2015 Ozark Foothills FilmFest accepting submissions

The 14th Annual Ozark Foothills FilmFest is currently accepting submissions. The festival will take place April 3, 4, 10, and 11, 2015 at several venues in Batesville, Arkansas. Entries are accepted in two categories: Official Selections and Short Film Showcases. This year, the festival is introducing the “From Around Here” Arkansas Film Award. Cash prizes of $500 will be awarded to a narrative and a documentary film fifteen minutes or more in length, shot in Arkansas by an Arkansas filmmaker. Entries should be submitted on DVD and accompanied by a $15 entry fee for Official Selection entries or a $10 fee for Short Film Showcase entries and an entry form. Entry fees are waived for entries by Arkansas filmmakers received on or before November 30, 2014. Additional information and an entry from are available at Material should be mailed to: Ozark Foothills FilmFest, 195 Peel Road, Locust Grove, AR 72550. The entry deadline is December 31, 2014. For additional information, call 870-251-1189 or email 

International Day to be celebrated by Ozarka

The Ozarka College Diversity and Cultural Events Committee will be hosting its 7th Annual International Day at Ozarka campuses beginning Nov. 4. Community members are invited to join Ozarka College students, faculty, and staff to participate in this fun and educational event which will focus on the country and culture of Brazil. International Day will take place at the following specified Ozarka College campus locations: Tuesday, Nov. 4, at Mountain View in the Student Center; Thursday, Nov. 6, at Melbourne in the Administration Building Dining Hall; Tuesday, Nov. 11, at Ash Flat in the Student Center; and Thursday, Nov.13, at Mammoth Spring in Room MS104. Each of these events will take place from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

A Little Rock speech-language pathologist incorporates ‘Art into Therapy’

Special to Arkansas Weekly The phrase a picture is worth a thousand words has murky origins. Some believe it was an ancient Chinese proverb, while others claim it was first coined in the early 1900s. Whatever its provenance, the phrase continues to have modern merit: profound or complex ideas can be expressed in a single image. One Little Rock speech-language pathologist who recognizes the symbiotic relationship between creativity and language has begun using one to subserve the other. A graduate internship at Neurorestorative Timber Ridge Ranch in Benton gave speech therapist Becky Mitchum a front row seat to the functional benefits that can be achieved through therapeutic creativity. “A common misconception about a speech-language pathologist, or SLP, is that we address only speech and voice issues like misarticulated sounds, laryngitis, or stuttering,” Mitchum explained. “Many people don’t realize that SLPs also treat swallowing disorders across the lifespan, or that the language part of our title encompasses the broadest scope of our profession: cognition.” After graduate school, Mitchum was lucky to find a Clinical Fellowship Year SLP position with Therapy Providers in Little Rock, a small company with seasoned SLPs who know how to tailor therapy to each unique client. Encouraged by their mentoring, Mitchum ventured away from the safety of cookie-cutter therapy to begin thinking more like a clinician and less like a technician. Coloring is such a normal part of childhood that Mitchum began wondering if children might respond intuitively to, or comply better with, language therapy which incorporates aspects of art. “In graduate school at UCA I learned about the principles of neuroplasticity relative to speech and language therapy,” says Mitchum. “One of those principles is what we call ‘Hebb’s Law:’ neurons that fire together wire together. I’m not qualified to be an art therapist, but it made sense to me that if art can be even tangentially incorporated into language therapy, the two can become wired together in the brain so that the memory traces for language are made stronger.” A large part of Mitchum’s caseload includes children at Centers for Youth and Families, little ones going through great upheaval. Some have been permanently removed from their parents and are awaiting adoption, while others are cycling through foster homes hoping to be reunited with their families of origin. “Most of the children we see there have impoverished brains from neglect or abuse,” says Mitchum, “which means our therapy strategies are similar to treating clients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The difference is that while someone with a TBI tries to regain what has been compromised or lost, a child with an impoverished brain never had it to begin with.” Mitchum began using art in her therapy with children at Centers for Youth and Families with encouraging results. “It doesn’t have to be anything profound,” insists Mitchum. “As long as the child’s language goals are paramount, the way art is used can be as simple or elaborate as the child’s abilities and interests allow.” An example of a simple way Mitchum incorporates art in therapy is cutting apart comic strips the client has to reassemble to tell a logical story. “It’s a fun, easy way to work on language goals like inferencing, reasoning, who-what-where-which-why questions, and idioms. And,” Mitchum adds, laughing, “it makes therapy more fun for both of us.” Mitchum uses wordless books in therapy as well, such as The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee, and The Flashlight by Lizi Boyd. “There are many excellent children’s texts, but I prefer wordless children’s books,” she said. “Anything that requires a child to use his or her own imagination to tie pictures together is going to inspire language.” Another example of art in language therapy is carried out over many sessions: having the child choose an appropriate song whose lyrics can then either be illustrated by pictures cut out from magazines or by the child’s own original drawings. These are then mounted on a poster he or she presents orally to his or her class. “Putting a poster together to present to a class involves a lot of planning and handwriting, so it isn’t an appropriate therapeutic vehicle for every child,” says Mitchum. “On the other hand, I have some kids who hate handwriting but who can’t wait to work on their lyrics in therapy – so for them it’s a magical switch. We go through the lyrics stanza by stanza, with the child writing explanations for analogies and idioms in the song, and identifying which words rhyme and how. The last step is the most rewarding for them: finding or making art to fit the lyrics. In order to summarize lyrics to fit on a poster, the child has to learn how to condense ideas. A picture can take the place of a thousand words.” Lyrics some of her children have chosen this year include “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “Wings” by Little Mix, “Radioactive” by Pentatonix with Lindsey Stirling on violin, and “All in All” by Dennis Jernigan. Mitchum enjoys deconstructing lyrics in therapy as much as her children do, she says, because it involves downloading music videos. A former violinist with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Mitchum is very comfortable believing that the same parts of the brain which process music can undergird language processes. “That’s the entire basis for music therapy,” she says. Mitchum is quick to add that she is not a music therapist. “But multi-sensory speech and language therapy techniques can help some children more than a single modality can. ‘Multi-sensory’ includes music.” With her own mother-in-law and uncle-in-law turning 95 and 102 respectively this month in Batesville, Arkansas, Mitchum thought their nursing home should be the first to host the Art to Heart exhibit on its walls. Georgia Mitchum turned 95 on October 23, and her brother-in-law Jim Mitchum turns 102 on the same day. Mountain Meadows Nursing Home on South Batesville Blvd. is sporting the Art to Heart coloring pages exhibit running through the New Year, with new seasonal coloring pages rotating every few weeks as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. Mitchum’s career prevents her from having the time to mount each colored sheet on construction paper before displaying it. “Art to Heart is going to be very simple coloring sheets taped ‘as is’ to the walls at Mountain Meadows. What is special is not the coloring sheets themselves, but the children who did them,” Mitchum explained. “If art is good it should do some good,” smiles Mitchum. “These kids deserve to feel good, and the residents of nursing homes deserve the joy of brightly colored pictures done by the hands of children. Win-win.” Centers for Youth and Families is the oldest, continually functioning non-profit in the state of Arkansas. Centers’ mission is to provide specialized prevention, intervention, and treatment services that promote emotional and social wellness. Since 1884, Centers for Youth and Families has been building healthy children, families and communities in Arkansas. For more information, please visit 

Wood-Lawn Heights Skilled Nursing Facility of Batesville recently held an employee pumpkin decorating contest.  Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh was the guest judge and chose the winners who received prizes. Contest winners pictured (top row, from left): Jessica Davila, Kendra Hawkins, and John Robertson; (bottom row, from left) Weston Dean and Ruth Mixell. Photo submitted

Stewart announces his re-election bid for Newport mayor

Newport Mayor David Stewart recently announced his intention to run for fourth term on Nov. 4. Stewart, who became mayor in 2003 after retiring as chief of the Newport Police Department, has served the city for 32 years, according to a news release announcing Stewart’s bid. Stewart has “…seen many positive changes within the city in the past 12 years and is proud to be a part of those changes,” he noted in the release. He contributes his success to surrounding himself with the best possible staff in each department. “I am deeply honored to have been Newport’s mayor for three terms and ask for your continued support in the upcoming election,” Stewart said in the release.