By Greg Mitchell, USNH Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka Director, Clinical Support Services, Cmdr. Maria Barefield has been selected as the 2015 Navy Occupational Therapist of the Year.
Barefield, who hails from Chicago, Illinois, is a 21-year veteran in Occupational Therapy (OT), the practice of evaluating and treating patients with upper extremity injuries, while following a schedule that she says consists of roughly ‘75 percent patient care and 25 percent administration’.
“I am excited about being selected as OT of the year because I want to show junior OTs that there is no limit to what we can do,” said Barefield. “All we have to do is dream it, and we can live it. I have the honor to do a job that I love. I love what I do, do what I love. I get to come to work every single day and work with amazing individuals who devote their lives to taking care of others.”
Some of the highlights Barefield accomplished during the calendar year of 2015 were; first Navy occupational therapist to hold supplemental privileges in dry needling as well as serving as Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehab for Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
Barefield also served on the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff (ECOMS), exclusively selected by her peers as the Non-Physician representative. She co-developed and executed a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt project which resulted in increased patient satisfaction to 98 percent while decreasing wait time 12 minutes below the national average.
Barefield currently serves as the public affairs officer for the Navy Occupational Therapist community and earned a Post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree in Clinical Leadership, Management, and Program Development from Virginia Commonwealth University.
As part of doctoral studies, Barefield supported the development of the Sexual Health and Intimacy (SHI) Service which was made available for all rehab services within the National Capital Region (NCR) and across the Military Healthcare System (MHS).
“My research concluded this service was not available, yet it was in demand by patients and families affected by poly-traumatic injuries that impacted function and family relationships,” said Barefield.
Through grant funding, she helped established a three-day training conference for rehab providers in the NCR on the delivery of SHI services. Additionally, this research was recognized “as breaking” research by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
She also co-developed an integrative behavioral health treatment program titled the ‘Complementary Alternative Medicine and Mental Health Treatment Program,’ which provides service dog training, recreational art and music therapy for patients diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Even though she has worn many hats, Barefield’s main job as a care provider keeps her going on a day-to-day basis.
“The most important part of my job is making my patients feel like they are the most important person in my life,” said Barefield. “All injuries are devastating in one form or another to the patient. It is my job to make them feel like there is hope and the patient will get better.”
She adds, “I never see my job as having a challenging aspect; I see it as growing moments,” said Barefield. “Every experience makes me stronger; a better person and therapist.”
USNH Yokosuka is the largest U.S. military treatment facility on mainland Japan caring for approximately 43,000 eligible beneficiaries.