HAZARD — For the first time, Kentucky River Community Care, Inc. (KRCC) has an occupational therapist on staff.
Jenna Patton, a native of Floyd County, Ky., has joined the staff at the region’s largest community mental health center (CMHC).
For her, it’s a chance to address a significant need she saw in the area.
“I really felt we had a need in the community for occupational therapy in mental health,” Patton said. “From seeing clients in the hospital, (I felt) that they needed something when they go home. They needed a way to engage in skill-building.”
When you talk to Patton about what she does, you get the feeling that this is her passion in life and that she believes in the importance of the services she provides. It’s in the eloquent way she describes her approach with clients, making it evident that they are her primary concern.
Patton graduated from Eastern Kentucky University, and since that time, has spent the last five years serving the people of her home region. For four of those years, she worked in the Acute Rehab Unit at the Hazard ARH before moving over to the ARH Psychiatric Hospital.
“At the hospital, I would notice pretty high-functioning clients coming in, and they just needed a little help here and there with (basic living) skills,” Patton explained.
“Those skills keep them safe in the community, keep them independent, and keep them from returning to the hospital as much,” she continued. “Because we don’t want them in the hospital. We want them out living their lives.”
Clients at KRCC can be referred to Patton for therapy, but she also accepts patients referred externally.
While KRCC did not have an occupational therapist prior to hiring Patton, the agency does employ several community support associates (CSAs). Similar to
occupational therapy in that CSAs work with clients to promote an independent lifestyle, the difference is that Patton works with clients of all ages in various settings.
That includes improving the way clients function at home, work, school, or in the community.
“We take the occupations, or activities, that people do every day and enhance their independence and performance,” Patton noted.
Patton said these are the skills people take for granted: brushing your teeth, driving a car, making a bed, getting in and out of the shower safely, managing finances, or even finding a job. She works with people to overcome obstacles preventing them from leading a normal, more self-determined life.
In addition, Patton teaches her clients – all of whom suffer from developmental, social, physical, or emotional problems – evidence-based coping and calming skills, as well as sensory techniques that use the five senses and movement to soothe a client’s mood.
“I just want the people who come to see me leave with a higher level of function and independence, and I want them to be safe, happy, and satisfied with their lives,” Patton said.
Patton recently completed her first month at KRCC.
“All of us are incredibly excited for these new services to begin,” said Amber Maggard, KRCC’s director of children and family services. “Jenna brings a great passion for helping others to this position. As the first OT to join KRCC, we are hoping that these services pave the way for a whole new array of treatment options for our clients.”
To schedule an appointment with Patton, whose main office is at the Perry Outpatient facility in Hazard, patients must first submit a referral and doctor’s order from their primary physician.
For more information about these and other services, contact KRCC by calling (606)-436-5761 or dial the 24-Hour Crisis and Information Hotline at 1-800-262-7491.
Mindy Miller is the program director for community relations at KRCC.