Northern Inyo Healthcare District joined healthcare providers across the nation Sept. 15-21 in celebration of National Rehabilitation Services Week.
Before dismissing this week as just another awareness celebration, consider this. In our community fabric, perhaps the strongest common thread is that of independence. We thrive on it. We cherish it. We live it every day. Now, what if an illness threatened that independence? Who could you turn to?
Meet NIHD’s 10-member Rehabilitative Services team. Charged with harnessing the powers and possibilities of rehabilitation, these professionals aim to return patients back to their daily lives through a coordinated, comprehensive, individualized and multi-disciplinary approach to wellness and education.
The team leader is Raychel Hosch, a licensed Speech Language Pathologist, whose accent gives away her Texas roots. Hosch and her family moved here almost five months ago from Las Vegas, New Mexico so that she could assume the department’s leadership. “I want our team to focus on the patient as a whole, through healing as well as preventing injuries,” Hosch said. “If we can do that, we can have a big impact on people’s daily lives.”
Services offered by NIHD’s Rehab Services include General Orthopedics, Hand Therapy, Neurological Rehabilitation, Auditory Verbal Therapy, Pediatric Development Therapy, Return-to-Work Therapy, Sports Injury Rehabilitation, Swallowing Dysfunction, Therapeutic Reconditioning, and Dyslexia Therapy.
Hosch notes the recent addition of a pediatric gym area and resources will facilitate the growth of services specializing in pediatric therapy. She also said that with the addition of the new NIHD Breast Health Center, the Rehab Department would move toward specialized care in the area of Women’s Health, providing therapeutic care plans to improve the health and well-being of the women in our communities.
NIHD has four full-time physical therapists that evaluate and treat problems that affect the ability to move and function. The physical therapists and assistants include William Blake, Tyler Honeyman, Jess Douglas, and Steven Messmore – as well as Betty Jo Zappia, a district employee for 30 years and the department’s former director. While Zappia retired last year, she continues to lend her skills and support to NIHD.
Occupational therapist Jay Ranabhat evaluates and treats patients with disabilities to help them participate more fully in life. Hosch said another occupational therapist is set to arrive in October.
Hosch and her fellow speech-language pathologist Lisa Gorlick evaluate and treat communication disorders, including speech, language, and swallowing.
The team is rounded out by activity assistant Sarah Yerkes, rehabilitation aide Lidia Shultz, and schedulers Cheryl Barlow and Brynna Harry. Dr. Richard Meredick, one of NIHD’s orthopedic surgeons, provides medical oversight to the department.
Hosch said the ultimate goal for the department is to have a team of professionals that make people feel comfortable. “We want to provide a positive, consistent experience for our patients,” she said, “and we want to develop a relationship with our patients where they feel like they are part of our family, like we’re all on the same team with the same goal of improving their health.”
Kelli Huntsinger, Chief Operations Officer at NIHD, who oversees all life services at NIHD including Rehabilitative Services, said the approach Hosch and her team are implementing could not come at a better time.
“The healthcare of today continues to change quickly, moving beyond the traditional focus on acute or illness care to models that work to keep healthy people healthy and to restore patients to good health,” Huntsinger said. “Our Rehab Services Department continues to embrace the commitment to patient rehabilitation with the goals of providing better function and a fuller enjoyment of life for our patients.”