Clinician Spotlight

Chris Dale OTR/L

Chris Dale, a legend in our state as the FOURTH OT licensed to practice occupational therapy in Mississippi, recently answered a few questions for Amanda Pounds, North District Chair. Amanda holds a high regard for Chris and describes her as the wheelchair guru of north Mississippi from whom many colleagues seek her guidance and wealth of knowledge.

Why did you become a therapist? My friend Becky had a little sister who was really “spoiled”. Her parents would sing, “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down” and give her medicine, then a spoon full of sugar. Libby’s teeth were really paying the price. Even at 13 years old, I thought it was odd because Libby and Becky’s father was a dentist. When I asked Becky what Libby took that medicine for, Becky didn’t know and was not concerned about it. Libby was just her spoiled little sister. Then Libby got very sick and was in the hospital. I know now she had had a cerebral hemorrhage. She had leukemia. We all felt terrible, because we had been so indifferent to Libby. After a month or so in the hospital she came home and her family set up a bed in the den in an area where there was a lot of foot traffic. A therapist, a woman, came to the house and did exercises with Libby. In 1964 the treatment for Leukemia was not what it is today. Sadly, Libby passed away within a month of coming home, but her illness and her treatment set in motion my career path.

What is your favorite treatment strategy? Connecting with the person I am there to help. Very early on I figured out that if I couldn’t connect with the person, they were never going to attempt what I was working together with them to achieve.

What do you love most about your family? My family is my life and I love watching and learning from them. It’s the same with my work family, because I feel that way about the people I work with.

Where is your favorite place to vacation? Black Hills Estate, Morayshire, Scotland

What do you love most about the field of occupational therapy? The diversity that allows someone as quirky as I am to thrive.

What was the best advice you have been given? Don’t take yourself too seriously and get over it.

What is your favorite quote? "Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will you realize that you cannot eat money." - Cree Indian Proverb 


Karen Lammert OTR/L

 

Her career is only one of many meaningful occupations in her own life. Karen is also an active member of her church, an avid traveler, a reader, and she loves being able to visit and maintain friendships with loved ones far away. She still keeps in touch with family members in Iowa and remembers a special trip she took with some of them to Ireland in 2005. “It was a truly wonderful experience: while everyone here was dealing with post Katrina apocalypse, everyone in Ireland was so warm and welcoming!”

One of her most memorable trips was traveling to Italy to see the Pope, up close and personal, “or as close as you can get!” she quickly added. When asked if there was any other place she’d most like to go she said Australia was next on her list. Although she has no children, nieces, or nephews, she is quick to admit that only means that “she can spoil other people’s children instead!”

To other OTs, the advice she gives is simply the ‘Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ “It seems the most appropriate..” she says.

 

Becky Hopper COTA/L

Becky Hopper of Long Beach, MS started working as a COTA in February 2015, but her path to a career in Occupational Therapy was anything but ordinary!

She was born in New Orleans and moved around to several states, finally graduating from Tylertown high-school in Mississippi. In high-school she says she began to feel the strong desire to help people, especially the elderly. Fast forward to college where she would get her degree in Business Administration and fall in love with Jason Hopper, both members of the Maroon Marching Band. “Yes, we’re band nerds”, she is quick to say. After graduating, they were married. Becky went to work for NASA for 7 years alongside Jason, a rocket test engineer.

During her 7th year at NASA, Becky says she felt a deeper calling. “I felt like God laid a burden on my heart that I wasn’t where I needed to be and my passion to work with the elderly kept growing stronger.” She decided to job shadow an occupational therapist at a local nursing home and after much prayer and deliberation, the rest is history!

“I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and am overwhelmingly thankful for the unique opportunity to help others, improve their quality of life, and help them live life to its fullest…”

Becky has already made a special impact in the life of one patient and his infant son. The father was recovering from Guillain-Barré syndrome and after several weeks of strength/endurance training, his spouse brought their 6 month old baby in for a child care treatment session.

“We worked on holding [the baby], feeding him, changing his diaper and snapping his clothes, all tasks that were still challenging at that point and took extra time and lots of rest breaks,” Becky says. “At the end of the session, he felt more confident about returning home. This experience was heart-grabbing, and I wanted to tear up with joy seeing his sense of accomplishment while holding his baby–something that was impossible just weeks before.”

“It’s moments like these that make me so thankful to be in this career field and play a part in making a difference in other people’s lives.”

More Fun Facts:
Pets: Two cats, Penny and Ozzie, who pretty much rule the house.
Hobbies: Skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, camping, pretty much anything outdoors.
If you could go anywhere, where would it be: I would love to visit Ireland one day. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking.
What is one piece of advice or words of wisdom you have found helpful: Don’t let the “busyness” of your job and day to day things that go along with it get in the way of being a blessing and touching others in the process.