swallow chair
From left: Ann Hamilton, TCMH radiology director; Lynn Stringer, TCMH speech/language pathologist; Jay Gentry, TCMH Healthcare Foundation; Jeff Gettys, TCMH Healthcare Foundation president; and Ellen Willis, TCMH physical therapy director.

Texas County Memorial Hospital just received a new state-of-the-art piece of equipment that will enhance patient care. A VizaVue 5500 modified barium swallow chair is already in full use at the hospital making it easier to position, transport and safely support a patient during a swallow study. 

“The modified barium swallow chair allows medical staff the opportunity to analyze swallowing problems in patients who are unable to sit up on their own due to a compromised state of health or underlying condition,” said Lynn Stringer, MS CCC-SLP, TCMH speech/language pathologist. “It reduces the risk of falling by providing a safe, stable surface for our bariatric patients.”

Difficulty in swallowing can be caused by several conditions, including stroke, oropharyngeal and esophageal cancers, neurological diseases and gastroesophageal reflux. The modified barium swallow test is used to identify where certain foods and liquids are getting stuck in the pharynx and esophagus.  During the test, barium is added to liquids and foods of different consistencies.  The barium allows certain areas of the body to show up more clearly on an X-ray. The X-ray video is taken as each food or liquid is swallowed to see where it goes and diagnose the problem.

“We can determine if they are aspirating, or if there’s a muscle weakness or a neurological issue,” Stringer said.

Before the addition of the new chair, if a patient was sick or had a stroke and could not sit up by themselves, the test and X-ray could not be performed due to the patient’s safety.

TCMH was able to obtain the new chair through a $6,000 grant from the Bess Spiva Timmons Foundation and additional funding support of $5,174 from the TCMH Healthcare Foundation.

“We are so thankful for the generous gift,” Stringer said. “This specialized chair is a game changer for TCMH and the advanced care we can provide to our patients going forward.”

“Providing excellent patient care is our No. 1 priority.  Any piece of equipment that allows us the ability to accomplish tests that would otherwise be impossible enables us to deliver a better patient experience.”

The Timmons Foundation is a private family foundation of the descendants of Bess Spiva Timmons.  The late Dr. Joe L. Spears, a long-time family practice physician from the Cabool area, is a past president of the Timmons Foundation Board.  Tim Spears, son of Dr. Joe L. Spears, assisted in obtaining the funding for TCMH through his family’s foundation.  The Timmons Foundation has provided over $136,000 in funding assistance to TCMH over the years.

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation is the non-profit organizational arm of the hospital with a mission to ensure the quality of healthcare services for children, women and men at TCMH. 

“The healthcare foundation was pleased to partner with the Timmons Foundation to provide another vital tool for our staff to use to improve the patient healthcare and outcomes at TCMH,” said Jeff Gettys, TCMH Healthcare Foundation director.

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