In celebration of Occupational Therapy month we interviewed Nicole Stumpf, our new Occupational Therapist, to share why she came to Plumas County and what makes OT so impactful in close communities.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Nicole. I am an Occupational Therapist here at Plumas District Hospital. I work with patients in outpatient and in the hospital. This includes transitional care patients that have received treatment and are in the rehab stage of their recovery. I work on helping them regain independence in their basic daily activities and set them up for success wherever they go once they leave our care. Whether that’s to home or another care facility, I help to make that transition as successful as possible.
How did you first hear about Quincy, and Plumas District Hospital?
My partner’s parents happen to live in Clio. I came to visit this area not that long ago. It was warm and the Blairsden Bakery was open. I am the type of person who was always on Indeed.com, trying to see what jobs are out there. That is where I saw a posting for an Occupational Therapist. Plumas District Hospital was actually looking to start an OT program. I sent them an email saying, “Hey, when the program exists, keep me in mind.” That turned into some conversations with Rey Pesina, and now I am here.
What is something that you like about the Quincy area?
The people here are truly alive and they live intimately in this place. They care and they notice you. Everyone waves and acknowledges your existence. I have been treated so well while getting a driver’s license or while opening a PO Box. I even got a fist bump when I got my license! It is really sweet. Unfortunately, it is just not something that exists in many places in our world anymore. It is just so charming. There is something precious that is preserved in Quincy. I am delighted that I was guided to be here. We really love it.
Your practice is in Occupational Therapy. How would you describe Occupational Therapy to the everyday person?
I would describe OT as the therapeutic use of activity to improve well-being. That could be through physical rehabilitation, through learning coping skills to deal with stressors, through the identification of meaningful life roles or a way to participate in the community again. It’s hard to simplify, but in Occupational Therapy we focus on what it is you want to do, the occupation, and then the act of doing things itself is therapeutic.
What drew you to Occupational Therapy?
I had been a yoga instructor for about 15 years and had training in yoga therapy. During that time, I started seeing a lot of clients that had surgeries or chronic conditions that were progressive, like Parkinson’s or MS. I was just terrified that I did not know how to best support them. I chose to go to school to improve my understanding of what was going on with these conditions and I chose Occupational Therapy because it allowed me to work with the body and the mind and the person in a holistic way. Context is also important for each person. What is there life like? What do they want to do? Do they like riding horses or enjoy doing pottery?” When I found Occupational Therapy I thought, “Oh! This is an extension of what I am already doing through yoga. This is great!”
What are you looking forward to about your work as an Occupational Therapist here?
I am looking forward to being of service to the community. I am at a stage in my life now where I want to nestle into a home base and have a role in that community. I have been very nomadic for a while and have moved around a lot. I think that was a very valuable experience and I do not regret a thing about it. But now I am at this stage where I want to set some roots and I want to use my gifts to help improve the quality of life of people in the area. I am very nice and very friendly. I have a lot of knowledge about the body and how to help people be more embodied so that they are more aware of what’s possible. Part of OT is helping people to recognize their limitations while showing them ways to do an activity differently or use a device so that they can still do the activity. Then there is the cognitive or mental health piece of helping people to accept their new reality. That can be a challenge, after a traumatic event or through aging, for your abilities to change. Falls prevention and helping people to avoid re-hospitalizations and injury is another big piece of Occupational Therapy.
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
I am looking forward to embracing the solitude of this area. I am also looking forward to doing a lot of outdoorsy things. I want to try mountain biking but I’ve never done it. I also want to get into wild foraging and to explore the native plants here. Having access to real, local food is really important to me. So I was excited to discover the Feather River Cooperative, the Lost Sierra Food Project, Rusted Root farm and others. I’m just excited to be here.