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Family Medicine Residency Center
Sarah Barowka, M.D., of Tupelo joined
the Family Medicine Residency Center
faculty in July 2016. That marked a
return to the program that she had
attended as a resident beginning in
A graduate of Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, La., Dr. Barowka earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Rhodes College in
Memphis. She received her medical training at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and completed her residency at NMMC’s Family Medicine Residency Center. She is board certified in family medicine by the American Board of Family Medicine.
“What I love most about my job is having the privilege to care for patients and their families in multiple different settings including but not limited
to the hospital, clinic and even in the home,” Barowka said. “It is so rewarding to work with patients and families to set goals of care and work
toward them, be it treating high blood pressure or caring for a loved one at the end of life. It truly takes a village, and I could not do what I do every day without the love and support of all the staff at the Family Medicine Residency Center.”
Dr. Barowka has been recognized on several occasions by Stars Online for her compassion and thoughtfulness for her patients. When one of her patients was having a gloomy day, Dr. Barowka got her some strawberry ice cream – the patient’s favorite – and spent time with her to lift her spirits. She also went above and beyond the call of duty to help a home hospice patient and his family in the man’s final hours. Her efforts included working with ambulance services, nurses, social workers and hospice staff to come up with a plan of care and explaining that plan to the patient and his family. On another occasion, Dr. Barowka saw two pediatric patients for well child visits. Both children needed blood work and one was nervous about the procedure. Dr. Barowka sat with the children in the lab to comfort them, let the children play with her phone and gave them treats.
Denise Chase, RN, of Corinth joined the NMMC staff in 2012 as a staff nurse on 4 West. In 2014 she became a charge nurse on that unit.
Chase was salutatorian of her graduating class at Kossuth High School in 2009. She earned her associate’s degree in nursing from Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Mississippi University for Women in Tupelo. She will graduate in May 2017 with a master’s degree in nursing administration from the University of North Alabama in Florence. She is certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and is TB certified.
“Being a post-surgical nurse, the best part of my job is watching patients come back during some of their lowest points in life, feeling worse than
they ever had, and watching them progress back to their pre-operative state,” Chase said. “I love getting to know my patients and still keep up
with some them after they are discharged from my care.”
Chase was recognized for making sure a nursing home patient got her medications after leaving them at the hospital. Other units recognized Chase for coming to their rescue—for helping with a wound VAC on 3 Central and for administering TB skin tests on 4 South to three patients so that their discharge would not be delayed. She also gave up a vacation day and worked 12 hours when the hospital was experiencing a staff shortage. “She puts the floor’s needs before her own all the time, and she
is greatly appreciated for this,” the nomination states. When a patient was discharged without all the necessary supplies, after working a 12-hour shift, Chase met the patient’s wife to deliver the supplies and teach her how to perform the skill. “This is going above and beyond and shows that she truly cares about not only her patients,
but all patients,” the nomination reads.
Case Management Director
Angela Coggins of Tupelo joined the NMMC staff in 1993. She started as a staff RN with the Medical/Surgical Unit before transferring to Home Health and Hospice, where she would work for more than 15 years in numerous roles, including branch manager, education manager and regional manager. Coggins also served as safety specialist with the Performance Improvement Department before assuming her current role as director of Case Management. She was named an All Star in 2006 and 2009 as well.
Coggins holds an associate’s degree in nursing from Itawamba Community College in Fulton and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of North Alabama in Florence. In 2009, she earned a master’s degree in nursing from Delta State University in Cleveland. Coggins often goes above and beyond the duties of her job. One day, she encountered a paraplegic patient who was looking for the Food Court. Coggins accompanied the patient to the Food Court, helped him with his food selection and paid for his meal. She was nominated on another occasion for conducting a medical ethics consult when their regular chairperson was out of town. Another time Coggins agreed to work an evening rotation in the Emergency Department, taking her away from her normal duties and her family.“The best part of my job is the numerous colleagues I work closely with to include the very best Case Management Department ever, the Post Acute service line, Inpatient Nurse Leadership, Hospitalist team and the Community Hospital Case Managers,” Coggins said. “While I don’t have the pleasure of touching patient and family lives directly in my role, I have the unique joy of supporting them as we improve the health of the people in our region while centering the patient and family in the care. And what I love most about my job is the support of my SLA, one of a kind Angie Everett.”
She and her husband Ronald have two children, son Cody, 15, and daughter Claire, 14. The family attends Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo, where she serves as a youth leader. Coggins is a Tupelo Christian Preparatory School Athletic Booster and supporter of the Parent Teacher Fellowship. She is also a member of the Mississippi Nurses Association, American Nurses Association and the American Case Management Association, where she earned her Accredited Case Manager Certification from the National Board of Case Management.
NMMC-Pontotoc Rehabilitation Services
Sonia Fuller of Houlka joined NMMC-Pontotoc in 2004 as a nursing assistant and unit coordinator, and transferred to her current role this
year. She is a graduate of Houlka Attendance Center and is a certified nursing assistant.
Fuller was recognized for stopping on her way into work to buy one of their more difficult patients breakfast from Hardee’s. She brought another patient steak for dinner.
One patient who had been in rehab since May had frequently told her he wanted to “get out of there.” On her day off, Fuller took the patient out on a pass. She took him to her home to watch football and cook out with her family.
“The best part of my job is seeing people become independent again,” Fuller said. “I love interacting with the patients and seeing them laughing and having a great time in activities. I love the one-on-one time with patients. It’s great to see their faces light up when you walk into the room.”
Fuller and her husband, Paul, have four sons – Thomas, Nicholas, Jonathan and Austin. She is a member of Nazarene Church.
Blanca Johnson of Belden joined NMMC in 2009 as a financial counselor at Tupelo Service Finance. In 2015 she transferred to her current role in the Education Department. She is a graduate of Mayfield High School in Las Cruces, N.M. She received a criminal justice degree from
International Business College in Las Cruces, and an associate’s degree in social work from Itawamba Community College in Tupelo. She is a certified CPR instructor, a certified human resources practitioner and is multilingual.
Johnson was recognized for her compassion and generosity. She was in the lobby and noticed a patient’s family member who was waiting on a discharged patient was cold and did not have warm clothes on. Johnson immediately took off her own scarf and sweater and gave it to the lady to keep. She noticed another lady in line at Starbucks in the lobby who asked for ice cream, which Starbucks does not serve. Johnson told her to wait, and she left to buy the patient a pint of ice cream in her favorite flavor.
A Women’s Hospital employee needed her CPR certification card that day to be able to continue working. Johnson found out the employee wouldn’t receive it in
time if it was sent through the courier, so she took it to the employee herself when she got off work. She was also recognized for her willingness to step in and teach when other instructors are out or have to cancel. “This is very common for Blanca, and she is always the first to volunteer to jump right in and take care of things,” her
nomination stated. “She always does so with a kind, exuberant, cheerful heart.”
One day, two employees showed up for a CARES class at 11 a.m. that was actually scheduled for 11 p.m. Johnson went above and beyond and stopped what she was doing to teach the class for two people. “The best part of my job is helping every person I come in contact with but most importantly the people I work beside,” Johnson said. “I love making a difference every day. You never know what kind of day someone is having, but a smile
always lifts someone’s spirit.”
Johnson has three daughters and attends White Hill Baptist Church.
Debbie Kelly of West Point joined the local hospital staff in 2006 as a ward secretary. In 2013 she became a nursing assistant. A 1982 graduate of West Point High School, she earned her associate’s degree from East Mississippi Community College in 2006. She is also CPR certified.
“I love taking care of the patients just as if it were my own family member,” she said. “This is how I walk in the room in the morning and see what my patient may need. I do the task that needs to be done – if it’s a bath, linen change, shampoo, shave or even if they may be lonely and just need conversation or encouraging words.”
When a patient wanted another cup of coffee but none was available, Kelly scoured the entire hospital to fulfill the patient’s request. One day
when the Emergency Department was extremely busy, she left her unit to help the staff take vital signs, deliver specimens to the lab and answer call lights. Kelly cleaned and organized two storage units so that supplies and equipment would be easier to find. She also buys bath products for patients who require assistance with personal hygiene and keeps laundry detergent in her locker to wash patients’ clothes when needed. “It is this kindness that reflects how Debbie puts that ‘extra something’ into the care that she provides for our patients,” the nomination states.
Leigh-Anne Scroggins of Booneville joined NMMC in 2005. She is a graduate of Booneville High School and earned her associate’s degree from Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. This is the fourth time Scroggins has been named an All Star, also earning the honor in 2007, 2008 and 2012.
“The best part of my job is the patients and families that I come in contact with through working hospice,” Scroggins said. “It is a privilege to be allowed to care for someone during their final stages of life. I truly feel working for hospice is a calling and I am so very thankful that God called me to be a hospice nurse.”
She and her husband Jason have been married for 23 years and have two children, 19-year-old Cade and 17-year-old Caleigh Grace. They
are members of East Booneville Baptist Church, where she serves as a committee member of women’s ministry and youth ministry. Scroggins is also a member of the Booneville High School Booster Club.
Scroggins has been recognized for showing great care and compassion for her patients and their families. On one occasion, she got a medication changed for a hospice patient who was having trouble swallowing and went to pick up the medicine herself so the family could spend time with their loved one. Scroggins has also cooked for a patient after hearing that the patient liked a particular dish. She took the time to prepare homemade snacks for each of her patients during Christmas as well.