On The air
List of Episodes
You can listen to On The air using your preferred podcasting service including iTunes and Stitcher by searching by the title or via this site by clicking on the desired episode below.
Two topics in the healthcare field that are rarely discussed are fraud and reporting fraud. In 2015, the guests on this episode, OT practitioners LeeAnn Holt and Kristi Emerson, were faced with a situation in their jobs that resulted in their making a report of fraud leading to a federal lawsuit being file against the company they worked for. Following that, both were terminated from their positions, which pushed them into the role of whistleblowers. On this episode of On The air, LeeAnn and Kristi share about that experience and talk about what has happened in their careers and in their lives since that time.
Occupational therapist LeeAnn Holt, OTR/L, OTD, graduated in 1989 with a BS in OT from Western Michigan University and also holds a post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy. She has worked in acute care, residential inpatient, adult and pediatric outpatient, community reentry, LTC and SNF settings, with the bulk of her career in geriatrics. LeeAnn has in some form of management or in the role of lead clinician since 1994, including four years as Regional Director of Rehab for a LTC/SNF company.
Kristi Emerson, COTA/L, is an occupational therapy assistant who graduated from Wallace State in 1998 with most of her OT career spent working in geriatrics. Since the time the report of fraud was made, both LeeAnn and Kristi have not worked regularly as OT practitioners. Kristi has done a little prn or "as needed" work for a contract company and has served as the administrator of a Facebook page called OT, PT, SLP therapists speak out against fraud.
Because of the actions of LeeAnn and Kristi, a legal case was brought and subsequently settled against a nursing home chain with more than two dozen facilities in the state of Tennessee settled a $230 million Medicare fraud. In the process of serving as whistleblowers, LeeAnn Kristi Emerson collected and submitted stories of patients, and that information was used as primary evidence in the lawsuit between the federal government and Louisville, Kentucky-based Signature Healthcare, which operates more than 100 facilities in 17 states.
Following is an excerpt from an article about the case posted on the Nashville Public Radio website (Farmer, 2018):
The complaint against Signature Healthcare (download here) accuses the company of systematically administering occupational, physical and speech therapy when it wasn't warranted and withholding care when government reimbursements were already maxed out. According to the suit, the unnecessary therapy pushed patients into a category where the facility was reimbursed more per day for those patients, often hitting precisely the 720-minute per week threshold for maximum payment.
As part of the $30 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the company has admitted no liability and denied the allegations. But in a statement, CEO Joe Steier says the payout "allows us to move forward in serving our residents."
Emerson says she hopes the case will still inspire other health care workers to push back when they feel pressured to do procedures they deem medically unnecessary.
We can't just blame these corporations for all of this," she says. "We have to shoulder as therapists some of the responsibility because we've allowed this to get this bad." ~Kristi Emerson, COTA/L
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As therapists, whether we are actively practicing or in a nonclinical role such as a manager or director, we literally make hundreds and sometimes thousands of decisions a day. We are presented with patient treatments and have to adjust what we are doing moment by moment based on the patient's response. Which task will prepare for my patient's session today? Which goal will I focus on today? If my patient moves in this manner, how do I adjust my treatment task? If my patient responds in that manner, how do I adjust my task?
On this episode of On The air, occupational therapists Kim Solondz and Lily Gullion talk about the ins and outs fellowship opportunities in the field of occupational therapy. Kim is the discipline director and pediatric fellowship director of occupational therapy at the Institute on Development & Disability at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, OR, and Lily is a new grad OT and the current pediatric occupational therapy fellow at OHSU. Accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) in 2016, the pediatric OT fellowship at OHSU is designed to provide mentorship in advanced clinical skills in inter-professional practice, leadership enhancement, and research development. More information about the fellowship including how to apply can be found at https://goo.gl/rsdSUj
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As an occupational therapist in the U.S. Army for more than ten years, Major Erik Johnson, MS, OTR/L, was instrumental in the care for service members who had sustained devastating physical, cognitive and mental health injuries during combat operations. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his work with brain injuries while deployed to Afghanistan. Erik currently serves as an occupational therapist working inpatient rehab and acute care at Baylor, Scott & White Medical Center in Waco, Texas. He also serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Warfighter Engaged and Operation Supply Drop, two organizations that support military service members across the spectrum of care.
On this episode, Erik shares about his experiences as an OT including how he uses gaming as a therapeutic medium and his work with non-profit organizations. You can learn more about Erik by visiting his blog, Army OT Guy, at and his website,
Occupational therapist Lenin C. Grajo, PhD, EdM, OTR/L, talks about his work in the area of Occupational Adaptation, the role of OT in literacy, and his efforts to promote diversity and cultural competence in the occupational therapy profession.
Dr. Grajo serves in several leadership positions including as the Chairperson of AOTA's Education Special Interest Section and Director of the post-professional OTD program at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. He has taught in the Philippines as well as in various locations in the U.S. In addition, he is author and co-editor of the recently published book "Adaptation through Occupation: Multidimensional Perspectives." A pediatric occupational therapist in practice, he is a strong advocate of evidence-informed, occupation-based, theory-guided, client-centered, and occupational justice–promoting occupational therapy service provision.
Debora Davidson, PhD, OTR/L, an occupational therapist whose career spans 4 decades as an OT practitioner, academic educator, and consultant, is the founder of a website called Authentic Occupational Therapy, Inc. She currently lives in a suburb of Chicago, IL and enjoys caring for her young granddaughter, kayaking and going to rock, jazz and blues performances with her husband, Ken.
On this episode of On the Air, Deborah and Stephanie talk about ways to get the most from an OT education. If you're an aspiring or a current OT student, this one's for you; if you're an OT practitioner, we'd be interested to get your input on the ideas we share on today's show; please reach out to comment on the website - www.OnTheAir.us - after you listen if you'd like to share your advice to prospective or current OT students.
Occupational Therapist Angela Box, MS, OTR, grew up in St. Charles, MO, and graduated with a Masters in Occupational Therapy from Maryville University in St. Louis in 2005. She and her husband moved to Oxford, MS in 2013 when my husband took a position at Ole Miss, and the couple now has 3 children - aged 6, 3, and 2 months. Angie says that she has always had a passion for pediatrics and as such, she has worked as an OT in early intervention, outpatient, and inpatient hospital settings. She says that she found her calling, though, as a school-based therapist through her work as the OT for the Oxford School District. Always looking for new and creative solutions to help children reach their full potential, Angie recognized a need for community resources and support for children and families with special needs and started Oxford Special Needs Creations in January of 2017.
On this episode of On the Air, Angie talks about her path into the field of OT, her work as a school-based OT, and her mission as the founder of a non-profit organization.
Occupational therapist Guili Krug, OTR, PhD, CLA, is the founding program director and a professor in the Program in Occupational Therapy at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX. She has been an OT for 29 years and has worked across many practice settings with varied populations, but her clinical passion is in adult neurorehabilitation. Guili has been an OT educator for over 20 years. On this episode, I talk about how I met Guili, and she shares about her path into the field of OT and into academia. We reminisce about our days as OT students, and Guili recalls an experience she had on Level II fieldwork that left a big impression on her. We also discuss our thoughts about how occupational therapy students and practitioners can strive for excellence.
Giuli is married to Jeff, a PT, and has three kids, Gabe (20), Sophie (19) and Ellie (16). She completed her B.S. in Occupational Therapy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her M.A. in Higher Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU). She earned her PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from MU in 2015.
Dr. Krug has extensive clinical experience in occupational therapy including inpatient rehabilitation (neurological and general rehab), outpatient therapy, home health, and acute care including neonatal intensive care. She began teaching part-time at MU in 1997, transitioning to full-time in 2005. In her time at MU, Dr. Krug developed and implemented an adult outpatient pro-bono teaching clinic while engaging in teaching, research, student mentorship and advising. She served as faculty mentor for the Student Occupational Therapy Association and the Director of Graduate and Clinical Education for the department. Dr. Krug was the recipient of several teaching and advising awards during her tenure at MU. Dr. Krug has joined UMHB to develop the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Program.
Karen Frank Barney, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, an occupational therapist with over 50 years of experience in practice and higher education, is the guest on this episode entitled "Full Circle" because Dr. Barney was one of the OT educators who taught Stephanie Lancaster, the host of this podcast, when Stephanie was in OT school. Dr. Barney received her Bachelor's of Science in OT and an MS in Adult Education degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her PhD from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health in Health Services Research.
Dr. Barney has worked in a variety of medical and community settings in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Missouri, and Guatemala, providing direct aging system services and consultation. She has taught in university settings for 38 years, served as primary faculty for the aging-related courses in three university programs, and served as the occupational therapy discipline expert for the Geriatric Education Center (GEC) at Saint Louis University for 22 years. She is the Founder of the Transformative Justice Initiative at Saint Louis University, currently working with justice systems to improve processes, programs, policies and outcomes.
On this episode, Dr. Barney looks back at the start of her career into the field of OT and recounts about her experiences across different settings including academia. She shares about her work with the Transformative Justice Initiative as well as her passion for social justice and servant leadership.
"We have to involve the people with whom we're doing [our] work." ~Karen Barney
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Alondra Ammon, MS, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist who is also a first-generation Salvadorean/Haitian American and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Her exposure to the medical field while serving during 9/11 created a passion for serving others and eventually led to a B.S. in Kinesiology from San Francisco State University.
From there, Alondra went on to earn a Master's degree in OT at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA. During her time as a student at Samuel Merritt, Alondra served as a mentor to middle school aged youth in underserved communities as well as Co-President of the Student Occupational Therapy Association. Alondra completed AOTA's Emerging Leaders Development Program and has since co-hosted a Twitter #OTalk2Us and presented at the 2018 AOTA Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.
On this episode, Alondra talks about her work on projects that raise awareness on the importance of creating a culturally diverse and inclusive workforce to better serve clients, along with addressing topics that relate to underrepresented practitioners within the profession. She shares about her entry into the field of OT and her experience as a participant in the AOTA Emerging Leaders Development Program.
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Two occupational therapists who attended and presented at the World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT) Conference in Cape Town, South Africa in May of 2018 share about their experiences leading up to and attending and presenting at the conference.
Jami Flick, MS, OTR/L, is an assistant professor and the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN. Jami has a Bachelor's degree in Pre-Professional Health Science and a Master's of Science degree in OT from the University of South Alabama. She has clinical experience with adult and geriatric clients in acute care, inpatient rehab, outpatient, and burn unit as well as pediatric experience in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and outpatient rehabilitation. She serves as the Pi Theta Epsilon Faculty Advisor for the Delta Zeta Chapter. Jami has volunteered as an OT in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and is currently the fieldwork developer for the first-ever Bachelor’s Degree level OT and PT program in Haiti. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Heath Science at Nova Southeastern University with an emphasis in global health.
Orli Weisser-Pike, OTR/L, OTD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN. Orli graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in OT from University of Cape Town, South Africa in 1996 and came to USA for her first job as an OT in 1997. She has a special interest in low vision and has been involved with that area of clinical practice since 2003. Orli went back to school to earn a post-professional doctorate in OT in 2011 through Chatham in Pittsburgh. She began teaching full-time in April 2017.
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The host of the On The Air podcast, I have practiced as an occupational therapist for over 25 years and am an OT educator specializing in ed tech and instructional design.