Kiran Tyabah wears two hats at Wheatland Memorial Healthcare. She came to Harlowton in the summer of 2006 and has been an energetic, enthusiastic and productive promoter of the hospital, its mission and its involvement in the wider community. Kiran splits her work time between coordinating a three-year chronic health care grant and acting as WMH's business development director.
Tyabah happily reports on progress and change in her own projects as well as other efforts. “The hospital formed the Wheatland Memorial Healthcare Foundation this July. The Hospital Board will contribute through work and money, and will act as the governing board. Focuses of the foundation will be telemedicine, community promise, education and scholarship fund, and building. The Foundation will help insure that the hospital stays in the community and continues to provide critical medical services.”
Kiran sees that, “Wheatland Memorial is in a better position than many small rural hospitals because of competent administration, active board and supporting Bair Family grants. WMH has the only telepharmacy in the state. We’re now using telemedicine for community diabetes and hypertension education.”
With the grant which employs Kiran Tyabah, a Saint Vincent’s in-house program was adapted for rural telemedicine use. WMH, St. Vs, and Community Mental Health partnered to develop the three-year program under a Chronic Care Outreach Grant from Office of Rural Health Policy (Health and Human Services). The grant team at Wheatland Memorial includes Scot Mitchell, Jerry Wright, John MacCart, Lauri Cooney, Kathy Newland, Sherri Olson.
Focus for the first year was diabetes, the second is on hypertension and heart disease, and third year will be mental health. The model used involves self management as well as group interaction. “Patients learn from the Saint Vincent's health educator and other group members.”
Out of this program and help from St. Vs, the hospital is hoping to provide cardiology services on a regular basis via telemedicine. A new telemedicine studio at WMH is already being used for mental health consultations. Now, cardiology consults are in the offing.
In the past, telemedicine was provided through the Community Health Education Center (at Bair Memorial Clinic) and Partners in Health Network which is based at Saint Vincent's in Billings. (Telecommunications at the center continue to be available to the community for the likes of EMT training, business and government telemeetings.) That system used an old broadband line. A brand new line and 50-inch monitor obtained through the chronic care and other grants provides two-way communication in the telemedicine studio and improved service at the education center. (Saint Vincent’s Healthcare offers major supports to Wheatland Memorial Healthcare including grantwriting and management services.)
It seems hard to believe but Kiran has only been in America for four years. She had graduated as a dentist (BDS) from the KLE Institute to Dental Sciences in Bangalore, India, prior to coming to the US. Tyabah took a master’s degree in health administration in 2005 after two years of study at Montana State University in Billings. Kiran’s aunt, Dr. Khaleel, is MSU-B’s Dean of Arts and Sciences. Her brother is a computer consultant in California.
Kiran’s major achievement in her time at WMH has been as business development director. The new Honey Bear Daycare Center came out of this latter job. “The project is doing well. We have almost twenty kids enrolled. Seven to eight are coming to the center daily. We have only been open for a month. Patty Cole is our director. We have two other employees and a substitute. Two staff are on hand at all times.”
“The daycare idea came through the hospital board. It moved through the survey stage a year ago. Those surveys suggested that up to 30 preschoolers might need care. The present daycare center needs twelve to meet our break even point.”
Kiran is pleased with the community involvement (“community support really helped”), especially from Beth Keating, Marla DeShaw, Darlene Bacon, Mark Taylor and Marilyn Olsen. The Invenergy Wind Farm provided a grant through proceeds from a fund-raiser and Thrivent for Lutherans gave a matching grant. “Fundraising helped get the building in shape. At least $5000 was required for construction materials. The building had to have wiring and plumbing updated. There was a lot of work. The Center has the option to buy the building, but for now has a reduced rent because of the improvements made.”
While Kiran shares credit for the development of the daycare center, others see her as the main force behind this new community resource. Wendy Brouillette says, “I just think for being an outsider, a newcomer, she has thrown herself into the community. We wouldn’t have a daycare center today without Kiran.”
Still Tyabah turns the credit in other directions. “I had Scot Mitchell (hospital administrator) behind me. He believed we could do it and we did it. I had wonderful community support. A really positive attitude. I don’t know how to thank them. Harlowton does have that - community support.”
Kiran has spent much time in recent months working on a community department store. With the help of Jean Wallace, she was able to survey over 90 percent of Harlowton High students who she believes would be the target group for such a store. The idea and information has been presented to the Wheatland County Growth Council.
Tyabah continues to promote the hospital and new ideas to make it more effective in the community. She is investigating the possibility of making adult daycare services available in Harlowton.
“I have seen Harlowton in a very active growth process with the Horizons program and new hospital projects. A very exciting phase. The town has real potential for change and growth. We just have to keep the momentum going and counteract negativity.”