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News & Events 2011

Straight Talk for Guys & Moms
Begins Tuesday, September 6, 2011  6:30 p.m.
West Tennessee Healthcare Building
1804 Hwy 45 ByPass, Jackson

Wondering how you can talk to your son about sexuality?

Straight Talk for Guys and Moms is a program for boys (ages 10-13) and their moms to talk about their changing bodies, sexuality, male responsibility, decision making, and family values.

The class encourages the importance of open communication within the family. The four sessions are two hours each and present factual information about sexuality and help to promote self esteem. Moms attend the first session alone, and sons join them for the remaining three sessions.

Classes begin September 6th and will be held each Tuesday night through September 27th. The cost is $30 per family and registration is required.

Space is limited. Call 731-541-6448 to reserve your spot.

Straight Talk is sponsored by West Tennessee Women's Center. For a complete list of classes offered, click here.

Mom and Tot Consignment Sale
Saturday, September 17  7 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Fellowship Bible Church
141 Pleasant Plains, Jackson

The Breastfeeding Support Fund is sponsoring a consignment sale featuring items for expectant mothers and children. The sale will include infant and children's clothing (up to size 12), maternity clothing, shoes, and various baby items.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Breastfeeding Support Fund (a West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation fund), which provides support and education to breastfeeding mothers in West Tennessee.

For more information, or to be a consigner, contact Jessica McClintock at harleistorm@eplus.net.

Water Wise
16 Tips to Keep Your Family Safe This Summer

Whether they're sailing, swimming or just splashing around, even most land lubbers appreciate the refreshing joys of spending time near or on the water when the temperature rises. But water fun can also be dangerous. Jackson-Madison County General Hospital sees an average of five water-related injuries to children under 18 each year. Whether you're hanging 10 or hanging out, don't take a vacation from safety.

By the pool
1. Always supervise children. It only takes a second for a child-even one who can swim-to slip into a pool or gulp too much water.
2. Don't rely on inflatable "swim aids." They give you and your child a false sense of security and can deflate unexpectedly.
3. Dive only in designated areas. Anywhere else, it's feet first at all times.
4. Steer clear of drains. Teach children to avoid drains (even covered ones) in pools, spas or hot tubs. Pin up long hair and know where to find the pump's manual switch.
5. Fence in your pool. Install a four-foot high perimeter fence with self-latching gates. Keep a rescue ring, shepherd's hook or long, sturdy pole and a phone poolside. After swimming, remove all toys so children aren't tempted to re-enter.
6. Learn CPR. Adults and kids ages 13 and older should learn this life-saving technique. 

At the beach
7. Swim in areas supervised by lifeguards. Ask lifeguards about surf, currents and water conditions and avoid swimming past your ability. That sandbar or raft may look a lot closer than it is.
8. Buddy up. A friend can summon help in an emergency.
9. Avoid alcohol. Cocktails impair your ability to react to an urgent situation.
10. Never dive from rafts, docks or piers. Currents and tides change the depth of the ocean floor.
11. Keep two hands on tots. Even in knee-deep water, breaking waves can send a small child tumbling. Even better, keep little ones in life vests.

On the water
12. Develop a float plan. Before boating, tell a responsible person details about where you're heading and how long you plan to be gone.
13. Wear Coast Guard-approved life vests when boating. Kids need one even if they're just by the water's edge or on the dock.
14. Avoid tubing or rafting in streams, creeks and rivers after a heavy rain. 

Beware mother nature
15. Slather on sunscreen. Choose a waterproof formula with an SPF of 15 or greater, apply 30 minutes before sun exposure (even on cloudy days) and reapply every few hours. Stay indoors or keep covered during the intense ultraviolet hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
16. Duck lightning. When you hear thunder, get out of and away from water immediately. Avoid isolated trees and open fields and head indoors. 

Ryan Selected as Employee of the Month

Rachel RyanRachel Ryan has been selected as West Tennessee Healthcare's employee of the month for September. In her role as child life specialist, Ryan educates children on what to expect and helps to make them more comfortable with medical treatments such as IV medications, surgery, diagnostic imaging, and other procedures. The hospital can be a very frightening place for a child, and Ryan works to put each patient and her family at ease.

She is frequently asked to represent Ayers Children’s Medical Center on television, in publications, and at events. She is always an exceptional representative for the pediatrics department and West Tennessee Healthcare. She continually works to keep life in the pediatric unit interesting by organizing special treats and events for the patients. She also keeps a variety of games and activities on hand to help patients have a sense of normalcy during their stays.

"Rachel is an excellent resource and advocate for our special patients," says one co-worker. Another says, "She is always willing to help staff when asked. She is an asset to the well being of the children and their families."

Congratulations, Rachel, on your honor as Employee of the Month. Thank you for all that you do for our children and their families.

Meussner Honored for Selfless Service

Barbara MeussnerThe Humanitarian of the Year award is given to a West Tennessee Healthcare employee who has made the most significant contribution(s) through community involvement, church involvement, and/or civic involvement. This year’s recipient, Barbara Meussner, has made tremendous contributions in each category.

Meussner began working at the Therapy & Learning Center in March 2008 as an occupational therapist.  She relocated to the area from Florida where she owned and operated a successful therapy clinic. Her love for all people and her passion for serving others is immediately evident to anyone she meets. She is a model of Christian faith in practice and approaches everything in her life with God at the center. Her Christian world view impacts every facet of her life including her family, the children and parents she serves at the Center, as well as the employees who have the privilege of being in her circle of influence.

She resides in Decatur County, where she and her husband share their home with his mother who is ill and requires round the clock medical care.  The couple also cares for her aunt and uncle and, most recently, they have taken in her niece for the summer.

She often works overtime at the Therapy & Learning Center to cover for staff vacancies as well as to meet the growing need for therapy within our service area.  Her dedication means success for the clients. One example of this is a teen aged child with severe disabilities she served in her role as an occupational therapist. For years, his parents and other professionals struggled with interventions to properly meet his needs and disturbing behavior. At the time Meussner became involved with this child, he weighed only 40 pounds and had been diagnosed as failure to thrive. His situation was desperate, and his parents were losing hope that their child could receive the help he needed. Meussner saw the value in this child and his hidden potential. With determination, she assisted in finding a social worker who secured his placement in a residential facility. Because she didn’t give up, today, this child is doing remarkably well, weighing more than 100 pounds, enjoying daily activities such as swimming, and is able to interact with his environment with the use of assistive technology devices.

Meussner consistently models West Tennessee Healthcare’s Culture Statement of showing Love and Respect for People.  She is a strong supporter of the Center's staff, often praying and counseling with them when needed.  She always looks for opportunities to recognize staff for a job well done and shows her appreciation to staff in unique and creative ways.

She is an active member in her community, most notably through her work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  In 2009, she organized a “wish granting” for a child named Dalton. After learning that the family did not have an adequate place to live, she led a campaign called The Dalton Project, which raised more than $13,000 dollars to repair their home and provide financial support to the family.

In her spare time, she has become an ordained minister. She and her husband are founding members of Church360 in Lexington where she serves as the Administrative Pastor.

Barb, we congratulate you for receiving the 2011 Humanitarian of the Year award. Thank you for being an inspiration and a light to so many others.

Summer is for Kids Campaign to Benefit Ayers

Whether it is playing at the local park or going for a swim, summer truly is the season for kids.

This July financial institutions in and around Jackson have joined the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation in promoting the services of Ayers Children's Medical Center. You will have the opportunity to make a donation in support of these services by purchasing a Little General paw print for $1 at the following locations:

"All of these businesses are community-minded and we're proud they have partnered with us in raising funds to support our many pediatric services in West Tennessee", said Deena Kail, executive director for Ayers Children's Medical Center.

Several thousand children annually receive services through Ayers Children's Medical Center which encompasses the outpatient clinic, the Therapy & Learning Center, neonatal services, pediatric services, and the Healthy Start program.

For more information on becoming a part of this fundraiser, contact the Foundation at (731) 984-2142.

Irby Staff Gives Back 

Stuart C. Irby Co. recently experienced an extensive remodel of it's Jackson, Tennessee location. To celebrate the completion of that project, the staff planned a grand re-opening "Under the Big Top" transforming their back lot into a carnvial style atmosphere with booths of games, food, and entertainment.

Irby has a long history of good corporate citizenship and chose to use their event as a fundraiser for the Therapy & Learning Center. Donation jars were placed throughout the event so that guests could contribute. At the end of the day, the group presented a check to the Threrapy & Learning Center.

Irby staff gives back

Pictured L to R: Adam Wiliams - Branch Operations Manager, Sturart C. Irby Co.; Mike Wigton - President, Stuart C. Irby Co.; Ron Kwasigroh - Director, Therapy & Learning Center; Beth Koffman - Ayers Children's Medical Center; and Meredith Varino - Operations Manager, Therapy & Learning Center

Cheerleaders Host Concert for Hippotherapy

Lexington cheerleaders host concertLexington High School Cheerleaders hosted a concert on March 5, 2011, to raise money for Rein-Bow Riding Academy. Held at Lexington High School, the concert featured native West Tennessee performers Jonathan Singleton, Whitney Duncan, and Ash Bowers.

Proceeds from the concert benefited the Therapy & Learning Center's hippotherapy program, which allows children with special needs to receive innovative therapy on horseback. The program uses an indoor riding arena, named Rein-Bow Riding Academy, to provide this service to 25 clients each year.  

Hippotherapy is still considered an experimental therapy; thus, it is not covered by most insurance companies. "Our goal is to raise enough money annually to provide full scholarships for each rider," said Director Ron Kwasigroh. "It costs approximately $2500 to sponsor a child for a 9 month riding season, so these funds will be a great help."   

To learn more about this program, call 731-968-2811 or visit Rein-Bow Riding Academy.

Staff Help Make Wishes Come True

Cinderella invites wish kid Abi to join her at Disney World.

Thanks to the generosity of the employees of West Tennessee Healthcare, six-year old Abi's wish for a trip to Disney World was granted.  On a recent Friday, Abi, along with her mother, grandmother, and aunt arrived at Chili's (Abi's favorite restaurant) for a special lunch. When it came time for dessert, Cinderella appeared with a special cake and personally invited Abi and her family to visit Cinderella's castle at Walt Disney World.   

In addition to the big announcement, Abi received many special gifts to take on her trip. Best Buy provided the family with a new digital camera to capture those special memories. And, the Chili's staff presented Abi with a gift certificate to the Bippity Boppity Boutique so that she could be given the royal princess treatment during her visit.

Ayers Children's Medical Center and Kirkland Cancer Center Receive Gala Funds

Therapy and Learning Center receives fundsThe West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation presented checks to the Ayers Children's Medical Center and the Alice and Carl Kirkland Cancer Center. Each will be receiving $45, 991.17. These funds were the result of the 2010 West Tennessee Healthcare Gala held in November 2010. 

The checks were presented by Frank McMeen, West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation President; Vicki Burch, Foundation Board Chairperson; and Val Exum 2010 Gala Chairperson.

L to R: Vicki Burch, West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation Board Chair; Deena Kail, Administrative Director, Ayers Children's Medical Center; and Val Exum, 2010 Gala Chair

Therapy & Learning Center Combines Special Needs Programs

Therapy and Learning mergerThe Therapy & Learning Centercombines two of Jackson's oldest programs in the special needs community once operated by the Kiwanis Center for Child Development and the West Tennessee Cerebral Palsy Association. Tuesday, March 8, the Jackson Chamber of Commerce celebrated the change with a ribbon cutting at the newly merged facility.

Dating back to the early 1950's, these programs were each designed to meet a specific void within the special needs community. The programs are now provided as a service of Ayers Children's Medical Center which is an affiliate of West Tennessee Healthcare. These programs have grown to serve 1500 individuals each year throughout West Tennessee.

In 1951, the United Cerebral Palsy Day Care Center began teaching self-help and social behavior skills to children with cerebral palsy. Working from a small house on Royal Street, the group served less than 10 children when it started. But the organization would later evolve into the West Tennessee Cerebral Palsy Association, serving hundreds of children and adults with special needs annually.

The Kiwanis Center for Child Development began in 1969 as Jackson Day Care Center to serve children with special needs. During that time, most children with special needs were not educated in the public school system. The Kiwanis Center gave these children an opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. In 1994, the Kiwanis Club of Jackson officially became a community partner and the name was changed to Kiwanis Center for Child Development. Funding the programs became more difficult in the nineties and the Kiwanis Center's board of directors sought partnership with West Tennessee Healthcare. Throughout the years, the programs of the Center changed to meet the needs of its target population while never forgetting its mission of improving the lives of children.

"Merging the two programs together was a natural fit," said Director Ron Kwasigroh. "Both have had a successful history of helping thousands of families in West Tennessee. And, we want to celebrate and build upon that legacy as we continue to serve this special population and work to meet their future needs."

Race Brings New Pajamas

new pajamasAs a child life specialist, Rachel Ryan is always looking for items that will make a child's hosptial stay easier. Having small comforts can make a huge difference in a child's anxiety level.

Ryan wanted hospital gowns that were more comforatable for the patients. She also felt having pajama pants was important to help kids maintain their modesty. "Items such as these can have a strong emotional impact, helping chldren feel more relaxed and at ease," said Ryan.

Last summer, the inaugural Little General's 5K Run was held to benefit the Playthings for Peds fund at the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation. The proceeds from the race were used to purchase new pajamas for the unit. "The kids love them," said Ryan. "They are softer and remind kids of the pajamas they wear at home."

The second annual 5K run will be held April 30, 2011 at Union University. All proceeds will benefit the Playthings for Peds funds and will be used to provide comfort items for children (such as games and crafts) during their stay in the pediatric unit. For more information on the race, visit www.ayerscmc.org/5krun.

Sign Up Now for 2011 Girl Talk Classes

Girl Talk is designed for moms and their pre-adolescent (ages 9-12) daughters to learn together about increased communication and issues they will face as they transition from girls into young women.  Topics discussed include body changes, reproduction, decision making, and family values.

The four weekly sessions are two hours each and present factual information about sexuality and the promoting of self esteem.  This class encourages the importance of open communication within the family.  Moms attend the first session alone, then daughters join them for the remaining three classes.

This event is sponsored by the West Tennessee Women's Center. The cost of the class is $30 per family. Classes are offered each month with the exceptions of July, August and December. Pre-registration is required.  To register or to learn more, call 731-541-6448.