Good Samaritan employee sues in psychiatry

Joshua Gaunt, a senior at Arkansas Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, is in the second class to graduate from college.

A native of Sedalia, Missouri, Gaunt attended the University of Missouri for her undergraduate degree. Recently, he was accepted to UM for his residency in psychiatry.

Gaunt hopes to further specialize in psychiatry by doing a fellowship in geriatric studies. His particular passion is Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

At the Good Samaritan Clinic, Gaunt worked with a few of his ARCOM teachers and “fell in love with them.” The clinic does everything from chiropractic care to pharmaceuticals to emergency care.

Good Samaritan Clinic near NB St.

“You never know what people are going to come here with,” Gaunt said. “Even though I was trying to major in psychiatry, I’ve dealt with quite a few different cases of depression and anxiety, even things like hallucinations here.”

One experience at the clinic that stands out for Gaunt is when he had to treat an infected fingernail. A high school student came with his father who had to translate for him into Spanish.

At first, Gaunt was hesitant, as he “isn’t a toe guy”.

But his mentor, medical director Dr. Ziegler, told him, “Josh, you take out that infected fingernail for that guy.

Gaunt said 99% of them wanted to say no, but Ziegler said, “We’re going and we’re going to do it.”

That’s exactly what they both did.

Apparently the toenail had been bothering the boy for about eight months according to his father. He said he hadn’t done any sports, but with the nail removed he already felt better.

Chiropractic practice at the Bon Samaritain clinic.

“[P]People who go to psychiatry usually tend to be almost wrongly empathetic,” Gaunt said. “It was a painful experience for me, it was a painful experience for him, but he definitely got some long-term benefits from it. “

During one of Gaunt’s undergraduate rotations, his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 60. Gaunt had to stay home in Missouri to care for himself and his aging grandmother.

At the same time, he was taking evening classes for various master’s programs, but he knew he wanted to go into medicine.

After about six months, Gaunt’s brother returned home to take on the role of caregiver for his father and grandmother.

Gaunt said it was a tough choice to leave her family. About a year after he did, they placed his father in full-time care.

Gaunt said his rotation at a site in Searcy, where he worked in a geriatric psychiatry unit, motivated him to pursue psychiatry with a targeted fellowship in geriatric studies.

Optometrist's office inside the Clinique du Bon Samaritain.

“The resident who was training me at the time said to me, ‘You’re really good with geriatric patients, you’re very patient with them. You sit there and try to understand what they’re going through and you try to see how they ‘do each day and adjust medications and things.’ He said, ‘It’s not an easy thing to find.’ And those comments really spoke to me and I was very comfortable there,” Gaunt said.

He said being in the residency program reminded him of when he took care of his father.

Gaunt said he read in a recent article that by the age of 85 about 30-50% of people will have some type of dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease.

“For most people side effects is what happened to my dad is that the side effects he was having were so bad with his meds that they just weren’t worth it. ‘He really continues with his quality of life.”

The generous tree inside the Good Samaritan with leaves of names of donors, volunteers and others who have served the clinic.

Before moving to Fort Smith, Gaunt participated in an Alzheimer’s Association walk in Kansas City for a few years with his family.

He said that as soon as he moved here, he started a team at the River Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s. He has been participating for four years now.

Through his pathology club at ARCOM, Gaunt wanted to create a team for the Alzheimer’s Walk as vice president to do community outreach for something that meant a lot to him.

Last year, his team raised over $500 for the association.

“This team and all of it really meant a lot to me,” Gaunt said. “I’ve never really been good at raising awareness and voicing my concerns, but I feel like that’s one thing the walk has empowered me to do. Saying how it’s affected me and my family , which is truly cathartic.”

Christina Drake, walk manager for the Alzheimer’s Association, said Gaunt “knocked it out of the park” thanks to her team’s fundraising.

She contacted him to thank him for his participation and asked him if he wanted to get more involved next year.

“This (last) year it really moved me because they asked me to be on the planning committee,” Gaunt said. “And it was like I was so excited. I was like, ‘Yeah!’ And they said, ‘Well, think about it.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, the answer is yes.'”

Joshua Gaunt and his pathology club participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer's Disease last September at the University of Fort Smith.

Drake talked about how much Gaunt has been a big help with the March to End Alzheimer’s Disease.

“I’m very happy to have him with me,” she said. “He has a lot of positive energy and a good mindset.”

Gaunt said he wants to stay involved with the organization even if he moves this summer. He thinks the outreach they are doing is phenomenal.

“I’m definitely trying to raise awareness, at least with my friends and on social media, about Alzheimer’s disease and how it can affect (anyone),” he said. “You’re like, well, it happens to other people, it happens to other people’s family members, it doesn’t happen in mine, but then it does and you’re like, ‘Oh my God.'”

Gaunt said it was difficult to talk about his father’s health because he was a prominent member of the community as an ear, nose and throat surgeon.

“It was hard for me to go through it because once you start saying it, it’s real,” he said. “You deal with it and then I think I slowly and surely started posting things like ‘that’s my dad’ and ‘that’s how he was before’. Then over time, this led to the story that i was able to attach to our fundraiser, so we have always walked for him every year.

Gaunt said he was devastated to learn Fort Smith didn’t have a psychiatric residency because he wanted to stay in town.

“I fell in love with how this community and the people at the school gave me a chance,” he said. “Going into medicine and following my dream and my passion, I can’t say thank you enough.”

Gaunt said he loved being from the Midwest and loved the Kansas City area, but he had never met people as kind, welcoming and supportive as those in Fort Smith.

“I have never met a single foreigner at this university, and here at the clinic,” he said. “They just welcome you with open arms and say, ‘What do you need? And we’re going to help you.'”

Gaunt recalled a particular act of kindness he experienced after his freshman year at ARCOM. He had just finished his final exams and he and a friend went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. A man approached him and his friend at the bar and started talking with them. He listened to them express their grievances about the harshness of their tests for about an hour.

The man ended up paying for their meals.

“That stuff really speaks to you,” Gaunt said. “I hope I can give back like this one day, just to do random acts of kindness because you see it everywhere in this community.”

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