Over 300 attend Art of Healing to raise money for South Central Health Care Foundation

Over 300 attend Art of Healing to raise money for South Central Health Care Foundation

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from Art of Healing

It was a beautiful evening for the South Central Health Care Foundation Art of Healing. More than 300 attended the annual art auction which included paintings, pottery, jewelry, iron work, mixed media, a hand carved knife, woodwork, and other types of art. Those attending enjoyed food, beverages, live music by area musician Charles Carter, a silent art auction and a live art auction. The proceeds from the event each year funds South Central Regional Medical Center's community health initiatives which include free health screenings, and other community health programs.

Shannon Penland, M.D., a medical oncologist at South Central Cancer Center helped develop the concept for the event more than seven years ago. "The money raised goes to a great cause, and the event is first class," she said. "Those who contribute art have a unique opportunity to touch the lives of others, because lives are saved as a result of the funds secured from the auction." She continued by saying, "South Central has done an excellent job of educating the community about signs and symptoms of disease since they began their community health programs in 1989. Individuals recognize the symptoms in themselves, their spouse or family members and friends and seek help." Dr. Penland said that early intervention is key. "The earlier we can find a condition and treat it, the better the outcome." She said that some conditions do not have symptoms, so it is important to get annual check-ups.

Becky Collins, Director of Communication and the South Central Health Care Foundation at South Central, said, "I appreciate the support the hospital foundation has received throughout the years by area artists. Every year we have a outstanding collection of art which is donated for the event. Allison Evans, Community Relations Specialist who works in the Marketing and Business Development division at South Central has talked with artists all over the country," Collins said. "She has done an excellent job of securing art pieces from new artists throughout our community, Mississippi and other states which has expanded our art collection this year."

She said she also appreciates the sponsors who host the Art of Healing. The sponsors of the 2015 Art of Healing are BancorpSouth, City of Laurel, Community Bank, ENT Surgical Services, First State-A National Banking Association, Floral Designs by Jill Windham, Gholson, Burson, Entrikin & Orr, P.A., Chancellor, Inc., Jefferson Medical Associates, John David Jefcoat -State Farm Insurance, Mississippi Power, Radiology Associates, P.A., The Chronicle, The Impact, The Laurel Leader-Call, Sanderson Farms, Trustmark, Wayne Farms, WDAM, and William F. Horne & Company. "As a result of their support, the cost of the event is covered and all proceeds from the auction and ticket sales go directly to the foundation," she said. Collins provided special thanks to Sanderson Farms for providing their facility for the Art of Healing."They have a beautiful facility, and we appreciate them allowing us to use it each year."

An hour after the event began, Doug Higginbotham, President and CEO at South Central, welcomed those attending. He thanked members of the South Central Board of Trustees for their support, and also thanked the many who donated items and supported the event. He encouraged those in attendance to bid generously throughout the evening, because the proceeds were going to a worthwhile cause.

Each year at the Art of Healing, planners of the event invite someone to speak who has experienced a life changing event as a result of a health related illness. Linda Gavin, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at South Central Regional Medical Center, introduced the speakers for the 2015 event, Jim and Leslie Provost. "Jim Provost has donated a hand carved knife to our auction each year," she said." Gavin said that the couple had touched numerous lives over the years as a result of their love for people and their love for life. "Jim is an engineer and professional knife maker and Leslie has taught for years in the Jones County School System, and currently teaches at William Carey University where she is currently seeing her doctorate degree in education," she said.

Mrs. Provost made her way to the podium to address the crowd. "Wow! What a great way to spend a Saturday night in Laurel MS, at the Art of Healing.Thank you for allowing us to be a special part of this event," she said. "My husband, Jim Provost, was thrilled when he was asked to be the keynote speaker tonight. He is going to briefly share with you his experience about his stroke in 2000 due to a disease known as Fibro-Muscular Displacia and the results regarding his recovery due to South Central Regional Medical Center saving his life! It is a miracle and blessing that he is able to share with you and so many others that have endured diseases and incidents that have changed their lives and their family's lives dramatically. Before Jim speaks, we both would like to recognize a few people that supported and stood by our side during and after our difficult journey. If you are here, please raise your hand—Steve Hall, Janet and Dennis Farrell, Jay Fenton, Tony Stewart, John Crosby, Brad Pinkstaff, Neil Schrimpshire, RW Wilson, Mike Cowart, Anita Thames, Rex and Lynn Jones, Casey Provost, Sarah Wells and Catherine and Steven Nowicki. We also want to remember and cherish Dr. Ramesh Singh who was in the ER the night that Jim had the stroke and how he saved his life. Also, in loving memory of my grandmother, Margie Breazeale, our rock ,that kept us ALL strong and made sure we had plenty of good food to eat when we got home from the hospital. These people will always have a special place in our hearts. We love you all. Most of all, we give the credit to the Lord Jesus for giving Jim a second chance. Jim's favorite Bible verse is: I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. And He did!" She then invited her husband to the podium.

"Thank you so much for allowing me to speak and be a part of such a wonderful event in Laurel, The Art of Healing. I would like to say special "thank you" to our dear, special friend Linda Gavin, and Becky Collins, and Allison Evans for having me here," he began. Provost said he graduated from West Virginia University in l979 with a , and then went to work with Weirton Steel where he met R.W. Wilson who taught him the skill of knife making. He then moved to Fort Worth, Texas to work for General Dynamics and later accepted a position with Schlumberger Well Services. Schlumberger moved him to Jones County which is where he met his wife, Leslie Jones Provost, and began establishing roots in the area.

He said he married Leslie in 1984, and they had one son, Casey, in 1988. "My knife making slowed down due to my work with Schlumberger and living our busy life raising our son who was involved in baseball, school activities, and cross country running. My life and my family's life changed drastically on April 16, 2000. I was coaching my son's baseball team with Coaches Kevin Gatlin and Mike Cowart. I started having severe headaches, and I was experiencing an ear ache in my left ear.," he said.

He continued by saying, "One afternoon I had several kids from my baseball team over to the house to work on their hitting with the pitching machine. I noticed the pain in my ear getting worse. After a busy day of batting practice, I went inside to help my son, Casey, with his math homework. Afterwards, I sat down to relax for a while, and when I walked into the den to talk with Leslie, all of a sudden I noticed my right side began to feel paralyzed and my speech began to slur," Provost said."Leslie asked me to stand up. I stood up and immediately went to my bedroom to lay down, and Leslie called 911."

"At that point, my life was on a fast track. I was transported by ambulance to South Central Regional Medical Center which saved my life. Dr. Ramesh Singh was in the emergency room when I entered. He gave me medication that quickly helped the feeling in my right arm, but my speech remain slurred.The staff at South Central were wonderful! They went out of their way to help me and see that I was taken care of. I was at South Central for several days and had people around the world praying for me," he said. "Dr. Singh recommended that I go to Jackson, because the carotid artery on my left side was totally blocked. My right artery was partially blocked as well. I was then transferred to Jackson and after a few days there, I got to come home. My wife was my nurse and she had to give me shots, and that was not a nice memory, because she hated needles. But we got through it together.

He said his next concern was his speech. He said it was hard for him to remember people's names, read, write and talk. He heard that Laurel had great speech and hearing programs locally and worked with Anita Thames, speech therapist, who made a tremendous difference in his life. He said he had to learn vowels and consonants all over again. Leslie would help him with his homework, and his friends in the oilfield would visit him and write down words that he used in his job. He said he was determined to go back to work and not get on disability. Through speech therapy 4 days a week for 4 years and determination, he got where he could speak well enough to talk with people.

"I still struggle at times, especially with numbers on the phone, but I continue to try and improve," Provost said. "Getting better meant trying harder and DON'T QUIT. I was blessed that Schlumberger provided me support for 4 years. They stood by my side and encouraged me. I retired from Schlumberger in 2000, and wanted to get back into knife making. I built a nice shop for myself with air conditioning and heat."

He noticed he was having a few problems due to the stroke, so he called his friend, R.W., who taught him the trade of knife making and told him he needed his help. R. W. came to Laurel to help him and they updated Provost's knife making equipment. He said he applied what he shared with him in order to improve his knife making skill.

"And now, I have been on Knife World Magazine—cover story, 2013. I have been interviewed by WDAM and will be on the Knife Making Showcase of Blade Magazine in April. I have donated my knives to many benefits such as The Children's Home, the Center of Pregnancy Choices, the USM Eagle Club, Southern Animal Rescue, and the Art of Healing. He said there are retail stores also selling his knives—Sacks Outdoors in Hattiesburg; Son's Sulfur in Louisiana; and Rock Hard Designs in Pensacola.Provost held up his knife and described it. He said he had donated it for a wonderful cause. He closed by saying,"I will always be appreciative to South Central Regional Medical Center for saving my life and I will never forget Dr. Singh and the impact he hadon my life. I received many different opinions about the cause of my stroke, but it all went back to the original opinion he received from Dr.Singh in Laurel."

"We should be thankful for our hospital, the caring people who work there and the wonderful doctors. They truly made a difference in my life and they can make a difference in yours, if you need them. Thank you for allowing me, and my wife, Leslie, for being part of this event tonight.Please support this auction—it is critical in order to help others in need," he said. Leslie Provost closed by saying, "Community health screenings and community health programs can save lives, so please bid generously on these beautiful items. The silent auction will close in just a few minutes." Stan Ryals was the local auctioneer.

Gavin said, "Hundreds of area residents have attended our health events over the years. Our health care professionals have found melanoma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor hearing, depression, sleep apnea, prostate cancer and so many other conditions over the years." She said, "They have found individuals who were close to having a stroke or other health issues, and have told them to seek immediate help from their physician or sent them to the ER." Those who have been found with sleep apnea will tell you that after treatment with C-Pap (continuous airway pressure), they feel like a new person, because for the first time in years their body has gotten the sleep it needs to stay healthy."

"Many times we take our quality of life for granted. Those who have come in for hearing screenings and have been determined to need treatment will tell you they cannot believe they waited so long to seek help. Their quality of life improves significantly with the new technology, " she said. "We take things like that for granted."

Gavin was quick to say that hospitals have a much larger mission that the treatment of health conditions. "Hospitals should reach out into their communities and provide screenings and community health programs to educate those who live there about the importance of annual check ups, and prevention of disease." South Central has done that in a number of ways.

South Central was the first hospital in the state to air a local weekly health series on television. HealthBreak, a television program produced by South Central has aired every week on WDAM since March of 1989, and according to health care professionals who participate in the program, they have patients seek help after the segments air. The Women's Life Conference was the state's first comprehensive women's health conference which began in 1990 and always includes physicians speaking about health and prevention. Monthly health talks and free health screenings round out the initiative.

When it comes to treating potentially serious conditions, early diagnosis is key. Generally, the earlier you begin treatment for a condition, the greater your chance for a full recovery. It does not matter if you are in the best shape of your life, a serious condition can occur without signs or symptoms and may be present in your body. It is important to know that some health conditions have no symptoms to alert you that something is wrong, however some conditions run in your family, like breast cancer, so prevention and early detection is key so that you can stay healthy.

Those who are healthy spend less money on health care. That is one reason that health insurance companies are now including preventive care in corporate health plans. It only makes sense that the healthier you are and the more that you participate in preventive health programs, the lower the cost will be.

"It is great for artists to know that their contribution to the Art of Healing this year will help save lives," Gavin concluded. "We sincerely appreciate their donations," she said.