Thrive by IU Health

April 25, 2023

From the cafeteria to the unit

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

From the cafeteria to the unit

From working in the cafeteria on the tray line in high school to now supervising the IU Health South Central Region Rehabilitation Resource Pool, Meredith Southern, OTR/L, CLT, MBA, has deep roots in the region. In fact, her connection to IU Health Bloomington is a family affair.

“My mom was a nurse, my dad did security, my sister works here as a nurse, as does my sister-in-law,” says Southern.

She started working at the legacy hospital when she was 16 years old before going to school for occupational therapy (OT) while working with the rehabilitation team as a technologist. Southern earned her OT license in 2004 and became a full-time OT.

And then, one week before COVID-19 hit, she transitioned into her supervisor role. Southern now splits her time between caring for patients and her supervisory role, and she is always ready to step in to help with patients in Bloomington, Bedford and Paoli.

OTs are integral for discharging inpatients. After all, they help prepare these individuals to care for themselves outside the hospital.

“I tell my patients our focus is making sure they can do everything they need to do,” says Southern. “That includes your activities of daily living—we want to make sure they can get dressed, go to the bathroom, fix a meal if they need to—things in the home.”

One of her favorite parts of the job is seeing the smile on a patient’s face when they do something as seemingly insignificant as brushing their teeth for the first time in days because before then, they couldn’t do it on their own.

OTs provide other services, including therapy for recovering from an injury to return to work and outpatient care focused on what is important to the patient.

“We touch on many different areas for a lot of different people,” says Southern. “Our goals depend on where they’re at and what they’re focusing on.”

And her team is there to help each other all along the way, collaborating on how to serve their patients best.

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