BY JACLYN ROSE –
Tom Patterson grew up outside of Boston and worked for Ansata Arabian Horse Farms in Texas. His passion for horses would take him all around the country, including Mena. After moving to Georgia to work with horses, he completed a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia in Athens and then later received his master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Arkansas Little Rock.
Patterson lives by a philosophy that “life is fun and I don’t want to get stuck doing one thing,” and through his life has worked in children’s hospitals in Arkansas and Georgia and was the Arkansas State Coordinator for Child 1st, where he trained the state police as a forensic interviewer for cases involving child abuse, among many other ventures. “I place a strong focus on behavior, in training horses you learn a lot about animal behavior, and the animals can’t talk, and they are all individuals, so you have to really learn to read them and understand their body language. People are similar, just a different species, a lot of times I read people before I ever talk to them,” explained Patterson.
Throughout his various ventures in life, one thing remained true for Patterson, that he loves helping people. That brought him to his current position as Administrator for Ouachita Regional Hospice, a place that is passionate about helping people. “Through hospice we provide comfort care for both the patients and the families of those diagnosed with terminal illnesses. It is our goal to provide comfort and support through their last days. Though the patient is our first priority, we feel it is important to also care for their families and caregivers.
There are many different aspects to Ouachita Regional Hospice. They offer social service support and have chaplains, who routinely go out and provide spiritual counsel to patients and families. They also assist families in finding various resources and benefits that they may not know they are eligible for, that will benefit and assist the family during this hard time. They also offer support for anxiety and depression during the days of impeding loss. Ouachita Regional Hospice also offers a volunteer program in which volunteers go to sit with the patients so the caregiver can take a break and spend some time outside of the home. After the patient passes on, they offer bereavement follow up and have a grief group that meets once a month and is open to anyone working through grief.
Ouachita Regional Hospice is located at 1106 South Mena Street in Mena, but covers a 50 mile radius from Greenwood, Arkansas to the north and to Nashville, Arkansas to the south. They have 25 caring employees and accept referrals through doctors and hospitals but also walk-in referrals. “It is not uncommon to have someone walk in and tell us they need help, or someone brings in their friends and ask us to explain what we can do, or need to do to help them. Ultimately, the referral will need to come through a primary care physician (PCP), but we can take walk-ins and check with their PCP. Our main focus is in our quality of care. We provide the very best we can during an incredibly important time in someone’s life. We offer support and comfort for both the patient and their family,” explained Patterson.
“I like the people in Polk County. Ultimately, it is what always draws me back to this area. They are very real and caring and supportive of their own community. You don’t see that anywhere else and it is very admirable. The people here are marvelous,” Patterson said.