RACHEL MURPHREY, BS, COTA/L
Cherry Hospital, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Location: North Carolina
Certified in 2011
New Program Sees Compliance Double
Rachel Murphrey, a COTA from North Carolina, developed a program to meet patient needs during the beginning of the pandemic at Cherry Hospital, an inpatient psychiatric facility. It was important for the hospital to continue treatment in a manner that optimized patient care while also adhering to pandemic precautions. With this in mind, Rachel implemented a patient mask-wearing program. She used education materials, videos, and treatment strategies to teach patients the value of wearing masks and how to incorporate mask wearing into their daily routines. She also created mask modifications to reduce skin breakdown and enhance the comfortability of mask-wearing. These modifications included anti-ligature mask extenders with breakaway clips and hats with buttons for no-pressure fastening. The hats alleviated pressure on patients’ ears and allowed patients to express themselves. After Rachel’s program was implemented, mask-wearing compliance at the hospital increased from 40% to 85%.
Providing Patients With Authentic Experiences
The pandemic was challenging for patients at the hospital. To decrease risks, many routines and programs were modified, and therapeutic outings and community engagement experiences were reduced. COVID policies limited patients from receiving visitors. Rachel recognized that patient’s needed updated methods to provide real-life, hands-on, independent skills training. To enhance patients’ joy and support these skills during the pandemic Rachel created a second program called The Wellness Shoppe. This hospital store helps patients learn skills such as budgeting, visual scanning, decision-making, delayed gratification, prioritizing, problem-solving, and multitasking that support their recovery goals. It also provides patients with an authentic shopping experience, using preloaded debit cards, for self-care items.
Since its opening in January 2022, The Wellness Shoppe has received markedly positive patient feedback. Patients have stated feeling supported as they learn and practice skills. They have also reported satisfaction with the variety of hair hygiene products that are authentic to their hair texture and cultural backgrounds. The interdisciplinary team at the hospital noticed that patients are more invested in their overall appearance. They can express their individual personality and style through purchases at the store, and they are not as dependent on the institutionalizedclothing that is typically worn. A long-term goal is to develop specific job roles at the store for patients through the hospital vocational program, which will provide additional benefits to patients throughout the hospital. Rachel has presented her Wellness Shoppe program to two other psychiatric hospitals in North Carolina, and both facilities have expressed an interest in implementing a similar program.
An Impactful Innovator
Rachel is driven by her personal commitment to providing excellent, innovative care and to address diverse patient needs that can be complex and challenging. She thinks outside the box and is a can-do, resourceful, and fiercely patient-centered practitioner and advocate. Rachel continues to pivot OT services at Cherry Hospital to make a difference every day. She embraces Cherry Hospital’s mission of providing excellent care to individuals who have the greatest need and the fewest resources. Her compassion, competence, and determination as an OT practitioner reflect NBCOT’s mission of serving the public interest in its diversity by advancing just, equitable, and inclusive client care through evidence-based practices.
The NBCOT Innovation Award recognizes OTRs or COTAs who demonstrate the delivery of an evidence-based, effective, and innovative program or intervention that enhances the quality of life for a person or persons.
Learn more about the 2022 award winners.
Learn more about NBCOT’s Innovation and Impact Awards.