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Seating & Positioning: Meet the Team

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Debbie Poirier is the Director of Seating and Positioning Services for the state of Tennessee.  Her career began as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant in 1989 serving the needs of individuals with intellectual disability (ID).  After several years of work in other health care settings, she returned to the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) in 1995.  In 1997, she joined the Assistive Technology Team.  Altogether, she has worked with people with intellectual disabilities for more than 25 years.

In her current role, Debbie directs operations at clinics in Nashville, Greeneville, and Arlington.  She was instrumental in the design, construction, and implementation of a new mobile clinic.  Debbie is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Assistive Technology Professional, and a Seating and Mobility Specialist.  She is currently a member of AOTA, NBCOT and RESNA and has had the honor of presenting at RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America) and at ISS (International Seating Symposium).  She has been recognized globally for her expertise in assessment of alternative positioning needs, in particular with regards to positioning for safe eating, bed positioning, and power mobility.  Debbie actively participates in the education of the community and other healthcare professionals on the value of custom therapeutic positioning.  Debbie not only manages and educates, but is also accomplished in the design and fabrication of the alternative positioning equipment itself, providing creative solutions for those with complicated seating and positioning issues.  She has received recognition from Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, as well as, an award from Commissioner Debbie Payne of the Department of Intellectual Disabilities for outstanding achievements.

Each Seating & Positioning Clinic is staffed by dedicated personnel who are passionate about the life-changing service they provide.  Click your region to learn more about the team at your local clinic.

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Amy Ford is the East Region Clinic Director. She has been a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant since 1995 and has worked for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities since 1999. Amy has experience in Outpatient, In-Patient, Skilled Nursing, Work Injury, and Sports Medicine. Along with the day to day supervision of the East Clinic, Amy works with Durable Medical Equipment vendors fostering the relationship between the vendor and the referral source.

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Danielle Osborne is one of our seating and positioning clinicians.  She graduated from Milligan College in 2011 with a Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy.  Danielle’s background is in in-patient rehabilitation and geriatrics.  She has worked at the Seating and Positioning Clinic since October 2016.  She thoroughly enjoys working with this population and is committed to helping them reach their goals.  She has been married to her husband JT for five years.  They have two daughters, Brooklyn and Cambrie.  She enjoys traveling, camping, and spending time with her family. 

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Marion Powell ​joined the Seating and Positioning team as 2015 as Shop Supervisor.   He brings his experience in woodworking, problem solving, and shop management in the hopes of refining efficiency and crafting the best possible products.  Marion enjoys supporting people with disabilities and living in the mountains of East Tennessee.

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Estelle Strydom OTR/L received her Bachelor of Occupational Therapy from the University in Pretoria, Republic of South Africa in 1986.  She started her career in the USA in 1994 and worked for different companies in the capacity of occupational therapist, rehab manager, and clinical specialist.  Estelle has provided OT services within hospitals, SNF’s, home health, and in private practice.  Throughout her career, she showed special interest in seating and positioning and home modifications and had opportunity to educate clinicians working in SNF’s on a national level.  She also presented on several occasions on a variety of topics at AOTA and universities in New England and participated in 2 published articles related to seating and positioning.  She relocated from New England to East Tennessee in July 2014 and joined the team in July 2017.

Therapeutic Equipment Workers (TEW)

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Les, (1st person in the photo from left to right) has a strong Maintenance and Fabrication background. He is looking forward to using his acquired Knowledge and Skills to assist in caring for our customers and providing the best in custom equipment. Les is very detail oriented and takes great pride in his craftsmanship, he is excited with the challenges and opportunities this new position will provide. 

Jake, (2nd person in the photo from left to right) has been a TEW for 14 years with 2 additional years working in various cottages on campus as a tech. he has a strong background in fabrication as owner of a custom paint and body shop. He also has a strong background in woodworking finish. He has an excellent skill set regarding modification, fabrication and repair of seating and positioning equipment. He is an outstanding problem solver with a warm personality. He is enthusiastic and customer focused.

Matt, (3rd person in the photo from left to right) has been a TEW for four years.  He has a strong background in woodworking and electrical/ industrial wiring.  He also holds an Associate’s degree in Industrial Electronics.  He has an excellent skill set regarding fabrication, modification and repair of seating and positioning equipment.  He is an outstanding problem solver and a fun personality.  He is enthusiastic and very customer focused.    

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JD Barton has been working in the DIDD Seating and Positioning clinic since August of 2006.  He graduated with a physical therapy degree from The University of Texas School of Allied Health in May of 1996 and moved to a small east Texas town for a couple of years where he worked in a wide variety of settings.  He moved to Nashville in 1998 and worked primarily in home health therapy.  After eight years, driving upwards of 200 miles per day became too much to handle.  A good friend recommended a clinician position at the DIDD Seating and Positioning Clinic, and JD has not looked back!  He enjoys the problem-solving and creative aspect of the job as well as the population of individuals he gets to serve.

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Leslie Carson has been a practicing Physical Therapist since 1984. She is a graduate of Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Emory University in Atlanta where she received her PT degree. Over the course of her career, Leslie has served all ages in a variety of settings. She has provided PT services within residential facilities, hospitals, SNF, short-term and long-term rehabilitation settings, out-patient clinics, schools, home health and in a wide range of community settings. Because of the variety of settings, Leslie has provided PT to support medical, psychological, educational, and family models of service delivery. She chooses a full team approach with holistic outcomes for those served. Leslie has been based in Nashville since 2005. She has worked at the Seating and Positioning Clinic since 2013.

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Jennifer Craig, OTD, OTR/L earned a doctorate of Occupational Therapy from Belmont University in 2009.  After graduation, she spent 6 years as an Occupational Therapist for a Skilled Nursing Facility in Smithville, Tennessee.  While there, she obtained certifications in Physical Agent Modalities and earned the title of Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS).  She has served as a member of the Tennessee Falls Prevention Coalition and had the honor of speaking at the Tennessee Falls Prevention Conference regarding Falls Prevention and Home Safety Assessments.  She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and has had the privilege of presenting on the importance of standardized testing at the annual conference in 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.  She began working for DIDD as a Seating and Positioning clinician in 2016.  As a clinician, she has more than eight years of experience in various settings including skilled nursing facilities, home health, and outpatient.  She enjoys teaching educational classes to students and other health care professionals, as well as mentoring Level 1 and Level 2 Occupational Therapy students regularly.  She hopes to become a certified Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) in the future and would like to pursue research opportunities within the scope of seating and positioning.  

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Mark Wencel is the Statewide Shop Supervisor over the three workshops of the DIDD Seating and Positioning Clinics.  He has worked for the state of Tennessee for more than 20 years starting in March 1997 at the Middle Tennessee Wheelchair Shop which evolved into the Assistive Technology Clinic and finally the DIDD Seating and Positioning Clinic.  He initially started as a Therapeutic Equipment Worker, later becoming the Shop Supervisor in the Middle Tennessee Clinic in 2004.  When the clinics in Tennessee became integrated, he moved into the role of statewide Shop Supervisor.  Mark has helped to engineer and streamline the fabrication process of the therapeutic equipment that the clinics manufacture.  He routinely travels to the Arlington and Greeneville clinics to help troubleshoot fabrication processes and is responsible for ordering all materials.  Mark was born in Michigan as one of seven children and moved to Tennessee in 1997 where he now lives with his wife of 20 years and his teenage son.  He enjoys golfing, radio-controlled aircraft, snow skiing and fishing.

Therapeutic Equipment Workers (TEW)

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Stephen Parrish, (1st person in the photo from left to right) TEW for 12 years, Stephen has a strong background in carpentry.  He has excellent skills that benefit all that need custom alternative positioning.  Stephen has an engineer’s approach to building and refining custom equipment.

Vinnie Antolino, (2nd person in the photo from left to right) TEW for 4 years, Vinnie has a varied background in law enforcement, heating/air and home repair.  Vinnie brings great ideas for responding to specific custom needs.  He takes great pride in his work and is always willing to learn new skills.  Vinnie is always willing to step up to get the job done.

Joe Punk, (3rd person in the photo from left to right) Our newest TEW, Joe has been with us for about a year. He previously worked with a local power wheelchair manufacturer.  He has skills with welding and is building his knowledge of power wheelchairs electronics.  He is finding new ways to customize equipment based on specific needs.

George Parrish, (4th person in the photo from left to right) TEW for 14 years, George has a strong background in custom carpentry.  He had a successful business for 10 years prior to contributing his skills to benefit the DIDD community.  George has valuable and wide-ranging skills in all areas of S&P.  George enjoys getting to know the customers and caregivers.

Randy Fincher, (5th person in the photo from left to right) TEW for 14 years, Randy is a specialist with the process for custom molds.  He is detail oriented and has developed master skills in grinding and moving custom backs and seats through the fabrication process. Randy has 35 years of carpentry experience and 20 years of masonry experience.  Randy takes great pride in his work and really cares about the work that goes out of this clinic.

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William (Bo) Hunt joined the Seating and Positioning team in 2016 as the Shop Supervisor for the clinic in Arlington, Tennessee.  Bo is responsible for the operations within the work shop and he supervises three Therapeutic Equipment Workers.  Bo likes the challenges that come with custom fabrication work and helping to improve the lives of the individuals we serve.   Bo previously worked as a foreman in commercial and industrial construction for seven years.  He also served as a sheriff’s deputy for seven years in Wyoming, including work as a Field Training Officer and Department TASER Instructor.  He also volunteers as a mentor to inmates through Crossroads Prison Ministries.

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Lynna Jardeleza is a licensed Physical Therapist who received her Bachelor of Science  degree in physical therapy from University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines in 1993.  She has worked in acute care, outpatient, school system, and home health settings.  She has many years of experience working with adult and geriatric populations with intellectual and developmental disabilities in long term care and home and community based settings. Lynna joined the DIDD Seating and Positioning team in August 2012.

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Heather Fite became a member of the West TN DIDD Seating and Positioning team in July 2018. She offers friendly, caring assistance and radiates a positive impact in the lives of everyone we serve. As Secretary, it is her responsibility to make sure the daily clinical operations run efficiently, effectively. She performs secretarial functions; such as, process confidential information via multiple communications, verify insurance eligibility, schedule/confirm appointments, create clinic/shop schedules, compile/input medical billing data, and maintain Electronic Medical Records. Her prior work experience includes being a Business Office Manager, Special Education Paraprofessional, and Pharmacy Assistant. She is a graduate of Park University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management. She enjoys Volunteer/Charitable work; Animal Rescue, Church Outreach, Divorce Recovery, Food Banks, FOP/Carl Perkins-Christmas Gifts, Nursing Homes, and Suicide Prevention. Heather loves spending time with her family, friends, and pets.

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Andrew Hinkle joined the West DIDD Seating and Positioning Clinic in May 2018.  He graduated from the University of Tennessee, Health Sciences Center in 1996. Andrew started his occupational therapy career in inpatient rehabilitation and spent over fourteen years at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Memphis.  He has experience working in a variety of settings including outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, home health, skilled nursing and mental health. He has also served as fieldwork supervisor for many level two occupational therapy students over the years.  Andrew enjoys new clinical challenges and collaborating with individuals facing physical and psychosocial challenges to enhance the experience of living. 

Therapeutic Equipment Workers (TEW)

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Eddie Pilkington, State employee for 14 years, 7 in building maintenance, and 7 as S&P TEW (Therapeutic Equipment Worker). Eddie has background in carpentry and metal  fabrication. Eddie has experience in all S&P processes custom equipment, molds, casting, upholstery, for all our customer’s needs.  

Jamie Sanders, (2nd person in the picture from right to left) has been a TEW since June 2017 with 15 years of construction experience and hands on knowledge working with metal, carpentry, and various different types of material.  Jamie has developed a variety of different skills from working on the commercial and industrial construction worksites such as comprehension of schematics and blue prints that helps with the process of building our equipment for our people supported.  He enjoys the satisfaction he gives the people supported in being able to provide them with the comfort and the stability they require for a prolonged and comfortable way of life.

Christopher Shepard, (3rd person in the picture from right to left) TEW, state employee for 15 years, ran a successful cleaning service for 10 years, ministering for about six years now, enjoys talking things apart, love working with his hands, and most of all loves people.