Alice Hyde's Occupational Therapists Innovate to Put Patients First


Whether it’s in an inpatient, outpatient, or long-term-care setting, Alice Hyde’s Occupational Therapists, Sara Sloan, OTR/L, and Jeff Miller, OTR/L, both have one goal — teaching people how to adapt to their physical limitations, injuries or disabilities — and a hundred different ways to reach that goal.

“We adapt to situations, that’s what OT does,” said Jeff, who has been a member of the Alice Hyde family for a decade, and an Occupational Therapist for more than 24 years. “We teach people how to adapt and accomplish the activities of daily living.”

For Jeff and Sara’s patients, the activities many of us take for granted — getting out of bed in the morning, taking a shower, making breakfast and caring for beloved pets — aren’t just routine tasks . They are challenges that prevent them from being able to care for themselves and live on their own.

That’s where Occupational Therapy comes in, said Sara. The team develops individualized care plans that focus not only on building physical strength, but also take into account a person’s cognitive abilities and their mental state.

“It makes a difference where a patient is at physically,” she said, “But mental strength and resilience can make a difference too.”

As the pandemic ramped up in the North Country and facilities like The Alice Center were forced to limit group activities and the use of common areas, Jeff and Sara faced another challenge: how to innovate and create new programs that could be delivered to residents right in their rooms.

They leaned on technology for help incorporating things like music into some patients’ treatment, to address the cognitive and emotional challenges some patients struggled with due to not being able to connect in-person with their families. And they developed new activities using hardware like tablets and smartphones, helping residents make progress towards independence and stay connected with loved ones.

“The biggest goal is that people go home and gain their independence,” said Jeff of the team’s work. “The smiles and happiness of teaching somebody to do something they didn’t think they could do in the first place is phenomenal.”

The OT team also juggles a patient load that routinely exceeds two dozen people at The Alice Center, while also serving patients in the hospital’s inpatient and department.

“Alice Hyde truly is a family, and everybody has risen to the occasion,” he said. “Everybody stepped up, and that’s something I’m the most proud of. Our team definitely came together.”

“We’ve all worked together and stepped up where we need to,” said Sara. “We do the very best we can the whole time we’re here.”